Staging Your Home for a Virtual Tour

Staging Your Home for a Virtual Tour

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people everywhere are learning how to live, work, learn, and shop with new recommendations or rules. The real estate market, while deemed essential, has certainly had to use new methods to help buyers and sellers with their property goals. As the more traditional open house is no longer a viable option, the real estate industry has turned to technology to give buyers and sellers the best opportunities possible. Virtual tours are the go-to option, as it gives a potential buyer a chance to see your home up close to make a more informed decision about purchasing.

Virtual tours are giving buyers the confidence to make a purchase and are certainly a viable option for your upcoming property sale. However, you do need to consider a few of our tips before your first virtual tour or photoshoot.

Every Detail Counts

Since the option of walking through a home is unavailable right now, buyers are going to be looking at every little detail during an online tour. Buyers will be especially tuned in to small (and large) details during virtual tours because they know they may not get to see it in person.

Start a successful tour by ensuring you clean ahead of time. Making sure everything has been thoroughly wiped down and dusted is a must prior to any virtual tour or photoshoot. All light fixtures, fans, windows, doors need to be impeccable. 

Resist the temptation to over-decorate, instead choosing a minimalist approach. Decluttering your home will allow buyers to picture your home as theirs. Further, rooms that are stuffed with knickknacks, books, and picture frames can make rooms seem small and messy on video. It is also important to remember to either hide or cover any safes, expensive jewelry or computer equipment to ensure your valuable personal items are not on display for the internet to see.

Light it Up

Lighting is key in movies, theater, and now virtual home tours. The right lighting can make a small boring room appear bigger and more inviting. Make sure all lights are on, even in places you wouldn’t normally think of, such as closets or attics. Buyers will want to see every nook and cranny of your home and making it sure it looks Oscar-worthy will help ensure a quick sale. When possible, make natural light the star of the show by keeping curtains and shades open.

Now that your home is ready for its virtual closeup, it’s time for you to make sure you are protected during the selling or buying process. The professionals at Bell Law are ready to advocate for your best interests throughout the real estate process. Call us to learn more about our services today.

Tips for Buying Your First Home

Tips for Buying Your First Home

You’ve been waiting and saving for this moment. Now, it’s time to start searching for your perfect home. Buying your first house is exciting! It’s also a bit scary. After all, you have saved and prepared for so long; how can you be sure you are making a good investment?

Here are some tips for buying your first home confidently.

Talk with Friends and Family

You can – and should – learn from those who have purchased a home before you. Family members and friends can tell you about their experiences; you can learn from their mistakes and from what they did right. 

Know Your Finances

First-time home buyers should know everything about their finances. Beyond checking your credit report and assessing how much you can afford to put towards a down payment, you should also forecast your spending over the next 3, 6, and 12 months to assure you can afford a mortgage. Remember, just because you are approved for a certain amount it does not mean you can afford the monthly mortgage payments.

Write a List

No home will meet every requirement you may have, but it is wise to compose a list of your top features or amenities. This will help you get your priorities in order and then act accordingly. If you aren’t sure what you should be looking for in a home, consider checking out homes for sale online to see if you think an upgraded kitchen is more important than your ideal neighborhood.

Work with an Attorney

You shouldn’t purchase your first home without help. In addition to your family and friends who offer advice, you should also secure an experienced realtor to guide you through your purchasing process. Finally, partner with an experienced real estate attorney from the beginning of your home search. Your attorney will be able to advocate for your best interests during the inspection, the closing process, and throughout the purchase.

At Bell Law, we love working with first-time homebuyers! We would love to work with you during this exciting time. Call us today to get started.

Costs Associated with Buying and Selling a Home

Costs Associated with Buying and Selling a Home

Buying or selling a property is exciting. But it is also expensive. Most purchasers or sellers are unaware of the costs that are associated with the process. Whether you are buying a new home or selling a home it is important to know exactly what to expect at closing. Unfortunately, many buyers and sellers are unaware of the extra costs associated with purchasing and selling a home. Fees can add up quite fast, and no one likes being surprised with an increased budget. Being prepared can go help make the transaction much smoother for both parties. 

When Selling Your Home

One of the most stressful parts of selling a property is pricing the property correctly. A price that is too high will keep buyers away and keep your home on the market for far too long. In contrast, a price that is too low will decrease your profit potential. As you price your home or property, keep in mind the additional costs that could pop up and add those into your original price point. 

First, most sellers will hire a real estate agent. An agent helps list and sell your home, which is invaluable. However, that service comes at a price. Typically, an agent receives a commission between 3%-6% of the selling price. 

There are additional expenses that go into ensuring a quick sale including lawn maintenance, painting, carpet cleaning, and other repair costs to get your home looking its best. The most expensive of these extra costs can be staging. This service can certainly pay off, making your home look amazing and appealing to buyers, but the cost to you can be more than $1,000. 

Once your home is sold, closing costs come into play. Typically, sellers pay far less than the buyer, but costs can be 2%-5% of the selling price. A seller needs to be prepared to pay pro-rated property taxes and HOA fees in addition to closing costs as well. Knowing that all these fees and expenses are necessary can help a seller be better prepared when the day comes.

When Buying Your Home 

The buyer can often have more costs to be aware of than the seller. Many of these fees come from the mortgage lender, who can charge loan origination fees and underwriter fees. Lenders will also request home inspections and title searches which can add to the extra fees associated with the home purchase. 

In addition to these fees, it is important to remember the costs of real estate agents and lawyer fees. When it is time to close, most lenders will require you to have a certain amount of money in an escrow account along with the down payment and closing costs, which can be 3%-4% of the home price. There are ways to help reduce some of these costs by rolling them into your mortgage, closing at the end of the month or applying for an FHA loan.

With so many factors going into buying and selling a property, it can begin to be quite overwhelming. Having an experienced real estate lawyer by your side is valuable. Your real estate attorney will advocate for your best interests and keep you in the communication loop. 

If you are looking to make your buying or selling experience as easy as possible, the professionals at  Bell Law are ready to become your partners during this exciting time. Call us today to get started.

Warning Signs When Buying a Home

Warning Signs When Buying a Home

No matter if you are purchasing your first home or your seventh, the process can feel daunting. When you invest in a new house or property, it can be difficult making a confident decision that comes with a very high price tag. While you can’t know every sign that could point to a poor purchasing decision, you can keep your eyes peeled for these somewhat common warning signs that could make you pump the breaks on your next house or property purchase.

The Neighborhood

If you are looking at a home that is situated in a neighborhood that doesn’t have everything you need, it could be a warning sign of a bad decision. Be sure the home you are looking at has the schools you want, as well as plenty of green space. If trails are important to you, be sure to find a neighborhood that is well connected to the Chicago or suburban trail system. If you don’t drive to work, assure the neighborhood has plenty of public transportation nearby.

Too Many Projects

If you are looking at a home that touts itself as a “fixer-upper”, be sure you know just how many projects you will be undertaking upon closing. It can seem fun to make a home just the way you want it, but if you haven’t completed a home improvement project in the past few months (if at all), taking on a home with too many weekend projects could start to become a money trap.

Inspection Problems

If the house or property you are interested in gets a poor report from the inspector, slow the process down. Work with your real estate attorney as you develop a plan for correction with the current owner. If you try to do this without an experienced attorney, you run a real and significant risk of purchasing a home that is dangerous or full of potential structural problems.

Before you begin your home purchasing process, partner with the team at Bell Law. Our attorneys are ready to assist you and advocate for your best interests as you search for your next property.

Tips for Living in Your Staged Home

Tips for Living in Your Staged Home

Your home is on the market and you have taken the time, or hired the professionals, to expertly stage your home. The counters are cleared off, the extra personal photos are taken off the walls, the house is impeccably clean.


However, what happens if your home doesn’t sell in the first few days of being on the market? You are still living in your home, sometimes with kids or pets or partners that don’t know how to make a perfectly staged home remain spotless and buyer-friendly. Here are a few tips for learning how to live in a staged home and reduce the number of times you need to feel frazzled while cleaning up and setting up for a tour after your realtor calls.


Put Some Things in Storage

One way to keep your counters clear and halls free of excess knick-knacks that could make your home look smaller to buyers is to take them out of the house entirely. Consider renting a storage space for the short-term while you are selling your home and tuck away items you won’t need in the near future. Kitchen gadgets that you won’t use in the next few months, seasonal clothing and even children’s toys can go away during this time. Who knows – it may even inspire you to declutter once you move into your new home!


Clean Up Daily

Start a routine of cleaning up daily so that you aren’t scrambling to prepare for a tour when your realtor calls. Wipe down the kitchen counters and run the dishwasher each evening, and be sure the house looks good before you head out in the morning for work. Consider hiring a cleaning service to come in for a deep clean once per week, or once every other week, to take care of that additional attention.


Store Supplies

Buyers don’t necessarily want to see your personal items lying around the house, but it is unrealistic to get rid of those supplies while you are living there. Use clear storage bins or pouches to manage it more easily. For example, keep toothbrushes and toothpaste in a clear bin under the sink instead of in a cup on top of the counter. Keep makeup in a pouch in an organized drawer instead of on the counter. These adjustments can make a big difference, and you can get in the new habit of reaching for a bin sooner than you may think.


Plan for Sale

Be sure that you are always ready for an offer. One way to do this is to secure a relationship with a real estate attorney now. The team at Bell Law are experienced working with buyers and sellers throughout the Chicagoland area. We are ready to get to know you and your goals, as well as to advocate for your best interests from offer to closing. Call us today to get started.

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