5 Tips to Streamline Your Online Home Search

Who doesn’t love online shopping? You get to sit back in the comfort of your own home and browse fun things for sale on the internet. However, with online shopping comes hundreds of options from which to choose — and not all of them will work for you.

Woman on her computer staring off into space.The same goes for online shopping for a home. With so many options available on the Multiple Listing Service, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But there are a few ways to make your search easier.

Instead of saving hundreds of different favorites, you can fast-track your search by prioritizing homes for sale with the features that are important to you.

If you feel like you keep seeing homes that aren’t a great fit, here are five easy tips for streamlining your online search and finding your dream home.

Create (and Stick With!) a List of Wants and Needs

What are the home features that you can’t live without? Do you have a price range in mind? Will it need to have a certain amount of acreage?

These requirements should be at the top of your list. Creating a wants and needs checklist like this will help you determine which homes are right for you, and which you shouldn’t even look at.

Must-Have Features

Will your home need at least two bathrooms? Do you need a large yard for your dogs? Does your home have to be close to the interstate? Come up with a list of features that you absolutely must have in a home.

These will also serve as your deal breakers. When you come across a home that doesn’t have these features, you’ll automatically know that it’s not the home for you, and it’s not worth taking the time to tour.

Set Your Budget

A great way to determine your budget is by getting pre-approved for a loan. You’ll sit down with a lending agent who will go over your current income, credit score, borrowing history, and outstanding debts. Then, they’ll let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Look, your budget is set! Having a predetermined budget means you can eliminate homes from your search that you know you can’t afford.

Use the Advanced Home Search Option

Couple sitting on the floor with a tablet.On our home search tool, there’s an option for an “advanced search.” Using an advanced search is especially advantageous as it allows you to filter results by important features, location, and price.

Use that list you just made to fill in the advanced search! You’re now one step closer to finding your dream home.

Sign Up to Receive New Listing Alerts

When you complete an advanced search, you have the option to receive email alerts. When you register for email alerts, we’ll send you notifications whenever any homes that fit your criteria hit the market.

That way, you stay one step ahead of the competition!

Schedule a Tour and Do a “Twice-Through”

Happy couple touring a home for sale with a Realtor.Ready to see a home in person? Easily schedule an in-person tour on our home search tool. During your tour, we recommend going through the home twice.

First, breeze through the home to get a feel for living there. Does it smell pleasant? Is it easy to navigate? Will it be the right size for your furniture?

Then, go back to the front door and tour it again. This time, look at the details. Be meticulous. Is there enough storage space in the hall closet? Are the floors in need of refinishing? Do the windows let in plenty of natural sunlight?

On your second run-through, jot down your impressions. Take pictures and maybe even measure the rooms to see if your furniture will fit.

Work with a Professional Realtor

When you choose to work with a professional real estate agent, you’re enlisting the help of an area expert who will make your home buying experience even easier. You can even hand over your list of “must-haves” and let us do the rest! 

Give us a call today if you have any questions.

DIY Upgrades That Make Your Home Sell for More

Spring is upon us, and with spring comes another anticipated time of year: home selling season. Traditionally, spring is one of the most popular times to list a home for sale. It’s also an excellent season for spring cleaning and trying out a few home-improvement projects on the weekends.

If you’re thinking about selling your property, or simply want to up its resale value down the road, take a look at our most recommended home improvement projects. Not only are these projects simple and affordable, they’re sure to increase your home’s overall value.

Two Key Places to Start Your Upgrades

Can you guess which two areas of a home are most important to buyers? The kitchen and bathrooms. This is because these are the rooms where people tend to spend a lot of time.

The Kitchen

Spacious open kitchen with wood floors.Oftentimes, the kitchen is the first place potential buyers rush to when they’re touring a home for sale. This room is considered the “heart of the home.”

While the idea of updating your kitchen can be scary (all those expensive new appliances!), improving this room doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many projects you can complete to upgrade your kitchen that cost less than $1,000.

These inexpensive kitchen improvements include:

Add a Tile Backsplash

This is a relatively affordable project, and if you’re handy enough, you can do it yourself. For a really easy option, purchase backsplash made from a single sheet of material.

Refresh Your Cabinetry

White cabinets in a large open kitchen.It’s as simple as switching out old handles and pulls, painting old cabinets, or replacing cabinet doors with glass-paneled ones.

Quick fixes like this can breathe new life into an older kitchen.

Install a Water Filtration System

While it may not add a whole lot of money to the selling price, this is one small detail that may win over potential buyers. They won’t need to spend extra grocery money on bottled water if they have a water filtration system built in.

The Bathroom

The second most popular room of the house is the bathroom.

If a spa-like renovation isn’t in the budget, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to update your bathroom without spending thousands of dollars on repairs.

Update Fixtures

Swapping out old sink faucets, towel racks, and drawer pullers can make a huge difference in the bathroom’s overall appearance.

Re-do Caulk and Grout

Pristine white bathtub.Old grout can be quite unsightly, but it’s easy to fix!

Simply scrub the grout clean and add fresh lines of caulk around the tub and sink.

It might take a little elbow grease, but it’s inexpensive and can make your bathroom look cleaner and newer.

Save on Countertop Upgrades

Have your heart set on granite countertops? You can save money by buying a slab containing imperfections. Since the sink takes up most of the surface area, you may not even notice the imperfections!

Other Simple Fixes that Add Value to Your Home

Large home improvement projects aren’t the only way to add value to your property! There are a host of other small upgrades that can freshen up the rest of your home and increase its value to home buyers.

Add Some New Paint

Happy couple in dirty overalls sitting on the floor of a freshly painted room.Gather your friends and spend the weekend painting! Opt for high-quality paint with a satin finish. Don’t forget plenty of painter’s tape to protect moulding, fixtures, or light switches, as well as sheets to cover flooring.

Opt for neutral colors like slate gray and ivory, or popular colors like aqua and cool green. However, when it comes to selling a home, neutral colors are best.

Replace Old Light Fixtures

Dull, dim, or tarnished fixtures can make a room seem older and darker. Fortunately, upgrading lighting can be fairly simple. This could be anything from updating overhead lighting to replacing fluorescent bulbs. Bonus points for energy efficient features like LED bulbs! Opt for less expensive lighting if you need to hire an electrician.

Another easy lighting upgrade is replacing traditional light switches with dimmers.

Need More Recommendations for Upping Your Home Value?

We’ve got your back. We’d love to give you a list of home improvement projects that will get you the most bang for your buck. All you have to do is ask.

Give us a call today to get started.

How to Make a Wants Vs. Needs List for Your Home Search

It’s spring, which means home buying season has officially arrived! If you’re on the hunt for a new home, chances are you’ve already thought about the features you’d like to have.

However, one important part of searching for homes is making a distinction between your needs and your wants. Needs are amenities or features you can’t live without, while wants are things that you’d like to have (but they ultimately wouldn’t affect your home buying decision too much).

Two-story suburban home with a large garage and grey shutters.Ideally, you’ll want to come up with this list of needs (e.g. 3 bedrooms, under $200k, close to schools) and wants (e.g. fiber internet connection, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets) before you start looking for homes. This will save you time along the way as you browse dozens, maybe hundreds, of homes online or in person.

Here’s a guide for distinguishing between your wants and needs:

Your Needs

To begin, come up with a list of priorities. What are some features or amenities that are non-negotiable? Do you need a home with a certain number of bedrooms? Maybe it has to be in a specific location — close to public transit, near a popular attraction, or within a local school district.

Write your priorities down on paper or in a smartphone app to better visualize what you need in a home. Here are some things to consider:

Lot Size

Small black and white dog sitting on a green lawn with a wooden fence behind him.How much outdoor space do you need? This is one feature than tends to be at the top of home buyers’ minds.

If you have a dog or two, you may want a large fenced-in yard so they have plenty of space to run around. You might also be interested in starting a garden, or perhaps you just like the extra space for peace and quiet.

Home Size

Your specific needs determine how much space you need in a home.

Do you anticipate any future changes in your household size? If so, you should think about how much space you may require to accommodate those changes. The larger your household, the more bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need (unless you want to spend mornings waiting for your turn to shower).

You may also consider if you’d like to have a large basement or bonus room to turn into a game room or home theater. If you’re an avid hobbyist, you may need an additional room for your workshop.

Location

Man driving a car with his hands on the wheel.Think about where you currently live. Are you close enough to conveniences like grocery stores, local employers, or schools? Do you dread driving home in the afternoons because of bumper-to-bumper traffic?

Make a pros and cons list about your current location and base your new list off of the features you like or wish you had.

Budget

When you’re coming up with your list of needs, one of the most important factors to consider in your home search is your budget.

A great way to set your budget is by meeting with a lender to get pre-approved. During this process, the bank will go over all your financial information and let you know exactly how much they’re willing to lend you.

Your Wants

Spacious open living room filled with natural light.Once you narrow down your list of needs (the biggest of which is your budget), you should tackle your list of wants.

Try focusing on amenities or special features that will increase your property’s resale potential (for when you decide to sell down the road).

Value-boosting home features can include dual-pane windows, additional “flex” rooms (such as a finished basement or in-law suite), and LED lights or other energy-efficient features.

Not only can these amenities increase your quality of life, they’ll likely get you more money in the long run when you decide to sell.

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs

Smiling couple looking at a computer researching their budget.It can be challenging to find a home that has everything you need, everything you want, and is still within your budget.

Ultimately, you should prepare to make compromises along the way. (Which is more important, having a spa-like master bathroom or living less than 10 minutes away from the grocery store?)

Here are a few tips you can follow:

  • Consider any additional costs of certain home features and amenities. For example, if you want a bigger yard, make sure you have enough time to take care of it or the means to hire someone to maintain it for you.
  • Don’t always choose the latest upgrades. A number of different factors determine the cost of a home. Amenities like granite countertops and whirlpool tubs are likely to increase the price tag.
  • Adjust your list if necessary. You may realize during your home search that what you thought was a need is actually just a want.

Last on Your Checklist: The Right Realtor

Using your wants and needs list, a good Realtor can create a personalized list of potential homes that meet all your criteria.

That’s where we come in. Allow us to use our unique home buying expertise to help you find the home that’s just right. Give us a call today to get started.

Staging Shortcuts That Sabotage Your Home Sale

Home staging is a major player in a home sale. How your home looks, feels, and even smells can influence buyers’ decisions, so it’s important to present your home in the best light.

Cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging furniture are essential to preparing your home for showings, but it can be tempting to take a few shortcuts to get your property on the market faster. Out of all the home staging shortcuts that can hinder your home sale, these you should avoid at all costs.

Keeping Your Interiors Too Dark

A dimly lit kitchen with tile floors, wood cabinets, and laminate countertops looking out onto a dimly lit dining area.Your property needs to shine on the market — don’t dim your home’s sparkle.

Natural light works wonders to maximize space, especially for small floor plans, so it’s important to let in as much sunlight as possible when staging your home.

Throw open the curtains, trim any shrubs blocking the windows, and polish the glass to welcome in the natural sunlight.

Painting All of Your Walls Bright, Bold Colors

Nothing stops home buyers in their tracks faster than loud paint colors that don’t match their personal style. After all, one buyer may prefer rich earthy reds while another may be drawn to calming blues and greens.

Instead of painting your walls in oranges, purples, and electric greens, opt for neutral tones like off-white or beige to appeal to as many home buyers as possible.

Painting All of Your Walls Neutral Colors

On the other hand, you can go too far with neutralizing your space. Remember, home buyers are likely looking at several different properties, so you need to make sure yours stands out — and that buyers can envision themselves living in your home.

An open concept living room with beige couches in the foreground and a modern kitchen in the background.Splashes of color here and there are enough to draw buyers’ eyes without distracting them from the overall look and feel of your home.

The trick is to find a balance between the bold and the neutral colors.

Need advice? We’re more than happy to provide some pointers.

Forgetting to Deodorize Your Home

Home buyers can fall in love with a property merely from the listing photos. But if a foul odor greets them at the front door, they won’t stick around for long.

It can be tricky to determine what your home smells like since you have lived in it for so long. But there are a few tricks you can use to ensure your home smells fresh and clean for each buyer who schedules a showing:

  • Open the windows to air out your home
  • Hire a professional to deep clean your home
  • Light candles with simple scents, such as orange or vanilla
  • Ask a friend or neighbor for honest feedback

We’re Happy to Share More Home Selling Resources

The whole goal of home staging is to present your property in the best light, both for listing photos and for potential buyers. If you have questions about what it takes to sell and market your home, give us a call and let’s chat.

What’s Your Style? 5 Popular Architectural Styles to Consider for Your Dream Home

Dream homes around the country have one thing in common: amazing architecture. From Greek Revival to Modern, we’re breaking down the most popular architectural styles in America to help you discover your own dream home.

A two-story Greek Revival plantation home with tall columns, wrap-around porches, and a grassy lawn.

1. Greek Revival Homes

Popular during the 1820s, ’30s, and ’40s, Greek Revival takes inspiration from the ornate temples of ancient Greek cities.

In America, you’ll find this architectural style sprinkled in cities throughout the country. Picture the magnificent columns and symmetrical design of historic Southern plantation homes, monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and you’re thinking of Greek Revival.

This architectural style exudes elegance and sophistication, which is why Greek Revival is one of the most popular housing styles in the United States. Many Greek Revival homes feature:

  • neutral exterior colors, particularly white
  • gabled roofs with a cornice
  • tall columns, either fluted or smooth

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a row of tri-colored Victorian houses with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

2. Victorian Homes

Fans of Full House will instantly recognize these colorful Victorian homes in San Francisco. The Victorian architectural style made its debut in America during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, popping up in small towns and big cities alike.

Victorian homes are often asymmetrical and ornate, and they typically include some or all of the following features:

  • bright, bold exteriors instead of neutral tones
  • elaborate trim and rooflines
  • towers with pointed roofs
  • bay windows

Two Tudor-style buildings, the one on the left with black timber in a criss-cross pattern and the one on the right with red timber in a criss-cross pattern.

3. Tudor Homes

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, homes started to take on the look of medieval European castles and inns.

The Tudor, or Tudor Revival, style is best recognized by the decorative timbers on the exterior of the house, but homes with this architectural style also feature:

  • steep gabled roofs
  • dormer windows
  • large decorative chimneys

A two-story brick Colonial house with dormer windows on the roof and two brick chimneys flanking both sides of the house.

4. Colonial Revival Homes

Arguably the most popular architectural style in the United States, Colonial Revival first came on the scene between the 1880s and 1950s. Dutch Revival and Georgian Revival are considered subcategories of the Colonial Revival style.

Like Tudor homes, Colonials often feature dormer windows and gabled roofs, but they can also have:

  • simple rectangular windows
  • symmetrical exteriors
  • covered center entrances

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater House, a Modern three-story home with a stone chimney that is surrounded by trees.

5. Modern Homes

Also known as Mid-Century Modern, this architectural style was popular during the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s and valued simplicity over showy design. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House is a great example of this popular home style.

Since Modern houses were also designed as a way to connect with nature, these properties tend to feature:

  • open floor plans that flow to outdoor spaces
  • large windows and sliding glass doors
  • ranch or split-level layouts

No Matter Your Style, We Can Find Your Dream Home

Have your heart set on a certain architectural style? We’ll help you find (or build!) your dream home with the look and feel you want. Contact us and let’s talk.

Costly Mistakes to Avoid After You Buy Your First Home

A single-level ranch-style house with a front porch, two-car garage, and well-maintained front yard.You’re smart. You’re doing your research about home buying and homeownership (like you are right now!), so you feel like you’re prepared to avoid common home buying pitfalls. But you’ll soon find that once you’ve moved in, there is a whole new list of common problems that plague unwary first-time homeowners.

To help you make the best buying and ownership decisions possible, we’ve outlined some of the the biggest blunders that first-time buyers make after closing on their home.

Investing in Too Many Upgrades

Not every home improvement project is worth the money or effort. Many first-time homeowners make the mistake of not considering a project’s return on investment, at least until it’s time to sell the house down the road.

If you want to know which home improvements are worth the investment, talk with a real estate agent or get a market report for your neighborhood. Give us a call and we’ll send one to you.

Ignoring “Minor” Maintenance Issues

Water dripping out of a long kitchen faucet and into the sink.As your home ages, seemingly minor issues may arise. But be careful: A dripping faucet, crumbling caulk, or slanting floors could spiral into much bigger headaches if you don’t take care of them quickly.

To avoid shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road, tackle these maintenance issues as soon as you can.

We’re happy to provide local vendor recommendations if you need maintenance work. Just give us a call!

Choosing the Cheapest Repair Option

Quality comes at a price, especially when it comes to making repairs. Whether it’s picking up a cheap tool set or going with the lowest bid for a service provider, many first-time homeowners make the mistake of sacrificing quality for cost.

Contact us and we’ll be happy to recommend a high-quality local service provider.

Trying to DIY a Complicated Project

A large bathroom with white countertops, a white standing tub, white bidet, frameless glass shower, and orange walls.Some things can be done yourself. Think painting, hanging up shelves, or sprucing up the front entry.

But when it comes to stuff like plumbing, electricity, or structural engineering, think again. Hiring a professional will save you time and money — and keep you from starting a project you don’t know how to finish.

Need to talk to a contractor? Call us and we’ll give you recommendations.

Not Preparing for the Unexpected

A sudden job change, severe weather damage, or major maintenance problem can throw a wrench in your plans. Be sure that you budget accordingly for unexpected expenses as a homeowner.

We’re Happy to be a Resource

As local real estate experts, we have a wealth of information that can help you avoid many of these first-time home buying and homeownership mistakes. Contact us to learn more.

Do You Know What These Crucial Real Estate Acronyms Mean?

A man standing on a flat field and juggling apples.Acronyms are tossed around like crazy in the real estate world, which can be confusing to even the most veteran home buyers. But don’t worry — it doesn’t take long to learn the language.

Here’s a quick list of the most widely used home buying acronyms and what they actually mean. Of course, if you’d like to know even more real estate terminology, don’t hesitate to call us.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

The multiple listing service is a massive database of available properties that is split up into hundreds of different regions. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a home as “on the market,” it means that the home is available on the MLS.

Buyers can search for properties that are on the MLS by using a real estate agent’s website (like ours!), but that’s not the only way to find homes. Your agent can send you updates whenever new properties hit the market.

Want to get these email updates? Call us and we’ll set them up for you!

PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance

A wooden cutout of a house standing next to three stacks of coins, each taller than the next and with a sprout growing out of the top.Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance are the four parts of a mortgage payment. Initially, you will pay more toward the interest on the mortgage, but you will start to pay off more of the principal (the initial loan amount) the longer you stay in your home.

Want to see the estimated PITI for your next loan? Check out our handy mortgage calculator on our website.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, is a mortgage insurer that offers a variety of home buying assistance programs to help people purchase homes that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

FHA-insured loans generally offer more flexible credit qualifications and a lower down payment. However, borrowers are required to pay for mortgage insurance.

Interest rates and terms depend on the FHA-approved mortgage lender you choose.

PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance

Speaking of mortgage insurance, many lenders require you to have private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you can’t put 20% down on your home. This insurance protects the lender in case you can’t pay off your mortgage.

HOA: Homeowners Association

A community pool with orange inflatable innertube floating on top.Want to live in a community with a pool or clubhouse? Chances are you’re looking for a neighborhood with an HOA, or homeowners association.

An HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas and any amenities, and it typically sets standards for how homes should look in order to keep property values up. In some cases, homeowners associations may even include Internet, cable, and lawn care with their HOA dues.

If you’re considering buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the association’s CC&Rs — Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions — to see what rules the HOA enforces.

We’ll Help You Speak the Language

Understanding real estate terminology is one of the best ways to start your research as a home buyer. Want to know the meanings of other commonly used terms? Give us a call!

Jumpstart the New Year: 3 Goals for Your Home

A 30-day calendar with the number 18 circled in red marker.We’re almost three weeks into the New Year, but it’s not too late to develop goals for 2018.

Now is the perfect time to jump right in and start fresh in your current home! Need ideas? Here are a few real estate goals that you can achieve this year.

Fix Those Pesky Maintenance Issues

Maybe it’s a leaky faucet. Maybe it’s a drafty window. Maybe it’s a clogged shower drain. You can probably think of one or two issues off the top of your head that you haven’t gotten around to addressing yet. The New Year is the perfect time to get those problems fixed.

Reclaim That New-to-You Feeling

The longer you live in your home, the easier it is to let the clutter build up in your closets, attic, or garage. Make 2018 your year to reorganize!

A well lit living room with a flat screen TV on the wall, a beige couch under a window, and a wooden table in the center.

Don’t try to tackle these massive home organization projects in a weekend. Instead, follow these tips to slowly but surely reduce the clutter in your home:

  • Sort through one room (or one storage space) at a time.
  • Separate the items you want to keep, donate, and toss out.
  • Expand your storage space with shelves or over-the-door organizers.

Sell Your Home in 2018

If you have been thinking about selling your home, why not start your research early? The more information you have, the more prepared you will be when you finally list your home. Here are a few ways to start:

  • Hire a home inspector to identify any major maintenance issues — Call us and we’ll provide recommendations.
  • Learn more about the local real estate market — Ask us for a report of recent home sales.
  • Find out what your home is worth — Contact us for a complimentary evaluation.
  • Start cleaning and decluttering your home — Get in touch for additional ideas.

We’re Here to Help You Achieve Your Real Estate Goals

We have all the information you need to know about the local real estate market and the home selling process. Contact us today and we’ll provide you with our best resources.

6 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

A 20% down payment is a significant chunk of change. But with enough time to prepare and a little bit of creative budgeting, you’ll be able to save up for your new home sooner than you think. Follow these helpful budgeting tips to get started!

Break Down Your Budget

Closeup of the black and white number keys on a basic calculator.While it’s never a bad idea to start saving for a down payment, it’s an even better idea to analyze your budget before you consider a home purchase. This will help you set realistic expectations and concrete goals.

First, make a list of all of your necessary monthly expenditures — rent, power, water, phone service, student loans, etc. Add these expenditures up and subtract them from your monthly take-home pay. Then, look at everything that is left over and consider what to cut back.

After you’ve taken a look at your spending, determine what home price range (and, consequently, a 20% down payment) you could comfortably afford based on your current monthly budget. Our handy mortgage payment calculator might help!

Set a Concrete Savings Goal

Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll need to put down toward your new home, set a timeline for your savings. For instance, if you need to save up $20,000 for a down payment and want to move in five years, consider setting a savings goal of $335 per month.

Use a finance app like Mint to track your spending and your savings. Apps like these may also provide you with your credit score, which is essential to receiving the mortgage you need.

Get Prequalified for a Mortgage

A calculator sitting next to a paper document, which is signed at the bottom.Setting goals based on your current spending is a great place to start. To take the next step to buying your new home, meet with a lender about prequalifying for a mortgage.

Prequalifying for a mortgage will let you know how much financing you may qualify for — and how much you’ll need to save for your down payment. When you talk with a lender, ask for the maximum amount of financing that’s available to you based on your credit score and financial history. This may open up a lot of options when you’re searching for homes.

Not sure how to find a reputable mortgage broker? Give us a call and we can connect you with a trusted local lender.

Find Creative Ways to Save Money

If you’re having trouble meeting your savings goals for the month, even after you’ve carefully budgeted for the essentials, find ways to cut out superfluous spending or think of ways to earn a little bit of cash on the side. For example, you can:

  • Sell gently used clothing and household items at a yard sale
  • Substitute a movie streaming service for cable TV
  • Collect your loose change in a jar and cash it in every month
  • Use coupons while shopping at the supermarket
  • Use browser extensions like Honey to save while shopping online

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

A young woman holding colorful shopping bags in her hand over her shoulder.Saving for a down payment is no easy task. Every time you reach a major milestone, be sure to congratulate yourself!

Obviously, don’t spend all of that money in one place, but feel free to treat yourself to something special to reward yourself for your hard work.

Consider Home Buying Assistance Programs

Are you still having trouble saving for a 20% down payment? It might be worth looking into home buying assistance programs, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

How Can We Help You Achieve Your Goals?

We are always available to discuss your home buying plans. Connect with us and we can provide you with the resources and advice you need.

A Quick Guide to Tax-Deductible Donations in Your Home

Coffee cups protected by paper in a cardboard moving box.In the season of giving, many local organizations and businesses often accept donations of clothing, household goods, and other gently used items to help those in need.

Homeowners looking to downsize or preparing for a move (or just clearing up some space at home) can not only pay it forward by donating to a local charity, they can also take advantage of tax deductions. We’ve created this handy guide to tax-deductible items to help you know what to donate and how to write off your contributions.

Belongings and Household Items That You Can Donate

Most organizations have guidelines about the specific items that they accept, but in general, you can donate these kinds of items to local charities:

  • furniture, such as beds, desks, tables, and chairs
  • clothing, such as shirts, shoes, and new underwear
  • appliances, such as heaters, working TVs, and A/C units
  • vehicles, such as cars or boats
  • building materials, such as doors, windows, and wood flooring

How to Deduct Your Contributions

Dozens of suitcases, duffle bags, and boxes packed into a tiny attic.The IRS allows homeowners to take itemized deductions on charitable contributions on their tax returns. If you have an attic full of items that you don’t use or have several boxes of items that you don’t want to move to your new home, don’t just throw them out! Here’s what to do instead.

1. Find a Charity That Qualifies for Deductible Donations

The IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check tool is a great place to start. You can search by city or state to find a list of organizations that qualify for tax-deductible contributions. It’s important to note that donations to individuals aren’t tax deductible.

2. Determine the Value of Your Contributions

Knowing the monetary value of your contributions is essential to writing off your donations on your taxes. Some organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill, have helpful guidelines about the fair market value of appliances, clothing, furniture, and other household goods.

Neon sticky notes and a pen sitting on top of a document with a long list.Before you donate your items, make a list of each item and its value. You can evaluate your items by checking with the organization or, for any high-value items, having them appraised.

3. Know Your Limits

There are limits to what you can deduct for charitable contributions on your income tax returns. If your donations are more than 20% of your adjusted gross income, certain caps may apply based on what kinds of items you donated and to what type of organization.

If you contribute over $500 in items, you will need to fill out and attach Form 8283 to your return. If you make any contributions over $5,000 for items like rare art, collectibles, or real estate, you will also need to have them appraised.

4. Ask for a Receipt or Other Written Record

Once you’ve donated your items, ask for documentation, such as a receipt. Having a record of your contribution will help you know exactly how much you donated (and what to write off on your taxes).

Are You Donating Items to Prepare for a Home Sale?

Granite kitchen countertops that are free of any clutter and appliances.You’re off to a great start. Clearing out your closets, basement, attic, or other storage space is the best way to lighten the load for your move. We can help you take your preparations a step further.

Whether you’re starting to research the value of your home or are simply considering the idea of putting your home on the market, we’re here to help. Contact us and we’ll provide you with all of the information you need.