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.

The Top Real Estate Resolutions (And How to Keep Them)

Want to visit the gym more? Finally complete the home improvement project you’ve been working on? Save money for that new watch/car/house/vacation? January 1 is the perfect time to jumpstart your goals. If you’re like most people, according to Money Magazine, you probably have “stay fit,” “spend less,” or “enjoy the most out of life” on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Did a few real estate goals make it on your list, too? You’re not alone. Here are a few of the most popular home-buying or home-selling goals, and a few tips on how to achieve them.

Buy Your First Home

brand new homeownersYou’re ready to take that first step to homeownership in the New Year. You likely already have an area or neighborhood in mind, and you have a few features that you’d like in your new home.

How to keep it: Buying a home is a major project. It may be easier for you to achieve this goal if you set smaller, more manageable goals, such as putting aside money every month for a down payment, reviewing your budget, and researching reputable lenders.

Make Extra Payments on Your Mortgage

If you currently own a home, you might be trying to pay it off quickly, knowing that paying even a fraction of your mortgage ahead of time can cut out a few years (and hundreds of dollars in interest). You might have even taken some time to determine how much you could feasibly pay extra every month.

How to keep it: Don’t feel like you need to make dramatic changes to your monthly payments. Instead, save up just a few dollars a week to put aside toward your mortgage.

Put Your Home on the Market

You’ve decided that 2017 is the year to sell your home. Maybe you’ve started getting rid of household items you no longer need, or maybe you’ve started making a few small home improvements. This is a great first step to achieving your real estate goals.

How to keep it: Forbes shared the secret to keeping New Year’s resolutions, and one of the top tips is to make your goals specific. If you want to sell your home for a high price, for instance, determine what amount you want for your home. Start researching which homes near you have recently sold to get an idea of market conditions and what prices are realistic. Just ask us for a Neighborhood Sold Report or a free home evaluation.

Invest in Your First Property

investing in real estateHave you been thinking about investing in real estate to make extra money? Because this type of investment requires a little more real estate and financial knowledge, you might have already started doing a little research before you begin. Knowing common terms, understanding the basics of investing, and having a good handle on your finances can save you time and effort down the road.

How to keep it: Maintain detailed records of your finances. Do your research. Give yourself a deadline to have your down payment and cash reserves (if you don’t have the cash to buy the property outright). Determine how much money you want to make. Then, set aside the time to meet with a real estate agent to talk about your goals and which properties would be best for you.

We’ll Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in 2017, we will do everything we can to help you with your resolutions. You can take the first steps now by viewing the resources available on our website, or you can contact us directly to talk about your plans.

Selling a Silicon Valley Home in 2017? Step-by-Step Instructions to Make it Happen!

Thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home in 2017? home for sale in the silicon valleyThere’s actually quite a bit of planning and preparation involved—if you want to get the greatest possible amount of money for your home. Here are step-by-step instructions to make it happen!

Step 1: Find Your Realtor

One of the most important things you can do when selling a home in the Silicon Valley is to work with a trustworthy and highly experienced Realtor. A Realtor with the right experience and knowledge can offer you invaluable advice throughout the selling process, including home staging, marketing, and negotiation.

When to start: at least 2 months out.

Step 2: Consider Repairs & Improvements

Your Realtor will do a walkthrough of your home and make note of any features, rooms, or areas that require attention. Sometimes, the simplest repairs, minor renovations, and touch-ups can add significant value to your home. Additionally, if you know of any maintenance problems or issues with your home, you will want to fix them well before you start showing your home.beautiful remodeled kitchen in the silicon valley

Some easy ways to improve your home’s value can include painting (inside and outside), replacing old or tarnished hardware in your kitchen, bathroom, and on your doors, improving your landscaping, updating or refinishing flooring, and fixing roofing and siding.

When to start: 6 to 8 weeks out.

Step 3: Determine Your Selling Price

Work with your Realtor to compare your home to homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood to determine a competitive listing price for your home. This will take into account any improvements and repairs that you’ve completed, as well as the state of the local real estate market.

When to start: 6 weeks out.

Step 4: Start Decluttering

One of the biggest improvements you can make for your home is to declutter and depersonalize. This does take time, but it can make your home look larger, cleaner, and more welcoming. Removing personalized decor, furniture, or photos can even help your buyers picture their own personalizations in their potential new home.

When to start: at least 4 weeks out.

Step 5: Deep Clean

As soon as you’ve finished removing the big clutter, it’s time to go in deep and give your house the most thorough cleaning it’s ever had. If you’re not a big fan of cleaning, hire a professional maid service. If you have pets or stained carpet, it might also be beneficial to enlist a professional carpet cleaner.beautifully staged living room

Step 6: Stage & Photograph

Work with your Realtor to stage your home to be welcoming, neat, and organized. Proper staging can be used to highlight your home’s best features, make your rooms appear bigger and brighter, and truly make buyers feel welcome. Additionally, professional photography will paint your home in its best light—and allow buyers to view it from their computers, tablets, and phones.

Step 7: List Your Home Online

It’s time! But don’t just throw your listing online at any old time. Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the busiest online buyer-browsing days, so it can be beneficial to post your listing on a Thursday or Friday morning so it’s ready for the weekend. Additionally, never post an incomplete listing (without professional photos, detailed description, and home statistics), as buyers aren’t likely to click.

Are You Ready to Start the Silicon Valley Home Selling Process?

If you’re thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home in 2017, then it’s time to start now! Contact Gary & Robert today—we’re your Silicon Valley expert Realtors, and we’ll help you sell your home every step along the way, from home staging to marketing and negotiations.

Selling Your Home in 2017? Here are the Latest Market Predictions

notebook with new year's goalsIt’s that time of year: Many homeowners are looking to the New Year and planning their 2017 real estate resolutions (sell the house, move to the suburbs, buy that dream vacation home, etc.).

If you’re planning your own New Year’s real estate resolutions, you might be researching 2017 housing market predictions to figure out when you should sell your home and what tomorrow’s home buyers are searching for. After all, you’ve invested your time and money into your property. Don’t you want to see your hard work pay off?

Here are a few real estate predictions for 2017 that may come into play when you sell your home.

Buyers Want the Best of Both Worlds

If you live in a suburban community that’s surrounded by urban amenities, chances are good that your location will be a selling point for buyers. MarketWatch predicts that buyers want “surban” homes just steps from shops, restaurants, schools, and parks.

These Home Features are “In”

Formal dining rooms and dark kitchen cabinets are out. Open layouts, white kitchens, and first-floor master suites are just a few of the “in” real estate features of 2017, according to Builder Online.

Don’t have any of these features in your current home? Don’t worry. We can help you add value to your home so you can sell for the most money possible (no costly renovations required).

Sustainable and Smart Homes are a Priority

house with smart entertainment systemEven though green homes aren’t a new idea, the trend will likely continue into 2017. Since many buyers are eager to save money on monthly energy bills, energy-efficient home features and “smart” home systems are inching toward the “needs” column on buyers’ wants and needs lists. REALTOR® Magazine’s 2017 design trend predictions include more efficient HVAC systems, low-E window film, and even circadian lighting.

Thinking about making “green” upgrades to your home? We can help you determine which energy-saving features will give you the highest return when you sell.

Determined to Sell Your Home in 2017?

We can help you check “home selling” off your list of New Year’s resolutions. We offer invaluable resources on our website about preparing your home for sale, understanding the current market, and pricing your home. Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

How 2016 Technology Has Changed Your Home Search Forever

scrolling through mobile phoneWhen was the last time you hopped in your car to start your home search? Most home buyers today just pick up their phones to instantly view properties all around the country — no car required.

Each year, new tech changes the way that we interact with the world. Here are just a few of the ways 2016 technology has changed the way buyers find real estate.

You Can Access Anything On the Go

Your home search doesn’t stop while you’re out and about. Today’s technology has made it easier to access information when you need it. While you’re waiting in line at the store or idly scrolling through your phone, you can find articles about the home buying process on social media, see listings on a mobile search app, or check commute times from homes you’re considering.

Video Tours Have Evolved

Listing photos are incredibly helpful for home buyers who are looking online for properties. But now, video tours make deciding on homes even easier. Instagram, Facebook Live, and even Snapchat are just a few of the many platforms that you can use to find video tours.

“Smart” Home Features are Becoming a Priority

Remember earlier this year when the Pokémon Go mobile app was released? Proximity to a “Pokéstop” — a point of interest where players could collect items for the game — was listed as a feature in property descriptions, at least for a little while. The Pokémon Go craze is just one of many instances where technology is becoming a priority in and near homes that buyers are considering.

home with smart featuresToday’s home buyers can purchase smart home security cameras, install programmable thermostats, and invest in the security systems of tomorrow. Green homes, energy-efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring systems help homeowners save money. With the right mobile apps, your smartphone can control just about anything in your home, from lights to locks.

One Thing That Will Never Change…

The Internet is saturated with information, both good and bad. But one thing you can’t glean from technology is the ability to navigate the complex real estate process. Even with all the innovations in technology, you’ll still need an experienced real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Are you searching for a home in our area? We’ll help you find just what you’re looking for and handle every detail of your transaction. Contact us and let’s get started.

Downsizing Your Home? Use These Tips to Plan Your Move

kitchen and dining roomMaybe the thought of moving to a smaller, low-maintenance home has only briefly crossed your mind, or maybe you’re seriously considering downsizing. But before you trade your too-large house in for, say, a cozy condo downtown, there are a few things to consider.

Downsizing requires quite a bit of planning: You may need to figure out what to keep and what to discard, choose between the love seat and the sofa for your new living room, and determine which furniture pieces can serve multiple functions.

Here are a few downsizing tips to help you prepare to sell your current home.

Start Reducing Your Possessions Now

The sooner you are able to get rid of furniture, household items, and knickknacks you no longer use or need, the better off you’ll be. When you do decide to sell your home, you will thank yourself for spending a few hours a week decluttering now rather than waiting to do everything all at once.

If You Can, Sell Instead of Discard

Many homeowners choose to downsize to spend less money on a mortgage and more money on fun experiences. If you are able to start decluttering weeks in advance, you will have the time to sell unwanted possessions and save the money for future vacations. Consider hosting a yard sale, posting items for sale online, or having high-end items appraised.

Have a Plan

notepad with wadded paperTo avoid getting overwhelmed by all the work involved in downsizing, form a plan to keep your stress at bay. Consider these planning tips:

  • Make a checklist of possessions you cannot live without in your new home.
  • Create a checklist of wants and needs for your new home.
  • Determine which items you can pack now and which items you need to keep handy.
  • Start packing your nonessential belongings.

Get Started by Working with a Real Estate Expert

One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make, whether or not they’re downsizing, is not hiring a real estate professional to make the most of their investment. An agent’s experience and knowledge will help you sell your home for the most money possible, allowing you to use the proceeds to purchase a smaller home.

Are you thinking about downsizing? Start the process by requesting a market analysis for your property. Contact us to learn more.

The Essentials for Entertaining Big in a Small Home

homeowner setting dining tableWith the holiday season approaching, many homeowners are starting to plan get-togethers with friends or family. While entertaining can be more of a challenge in a smaller home, it’s not impossible to host a memorable dinner party with your loved ones if you’re working with limited space.

Here are a few tips for throwing a large dinner party in a small area.

Before Guests Arrive, Clean and Clear Your Home

You don’t have to put as much effort into cleaning and decluttering as if you were selling a home; the basics will do.

Put away any unnecessary furniture, home décor, and kitchen appliances before the dinner party. Clean and dust the rooms that guests will visit: bathrooms, the kitchen, and the dining area. If you have pets, don’t forget to vacuum upholstery and stash toys or the litter box out of sight.

Get Creative with Guest Seating

You likely don’t keep a dozen matching chairs in storage just for dinner parties. Show off your creativity by relocating chairs, stools, benches, or ottomans currently in your home around the dinner table.

appetizers on raised food standsMaximize Your Table Space

Invest in a tiered platter for dinner parties. Raising the serving plates gives the appearance of more space on your counters and tables and keeps your serving stations from looking cramped.

To further free up space on your dining room table, keep the centerpiece decorations to a minimum. Instead, hang decorations from your walls or ceiling to maximize your space.

Trying to Make the Most of Your Space?

If you’re downsizing but still want to entertain friends and family in your new home, there are many ways to make the most of your space while still enjoying memorable occasions with your loved ones. As real estate experts, we can share downsizing tips and help you find a home that’s just the right size. Contact us to learn more.

Stage Your Home Like This to Make it Stand Out From the Crowd

This charming Santa Clara home has been recently renovated and upgraded to include some pretty luxurious features—so we staged it to stand out from the crowd of other Silicon Valley homes to be sure buyers really notice—and remember—all its great qualities.

2867 Kearney Ave: Quaint on the Outside, Shiney New on the Inside

silicon valley homes for saleFirst impressions are the most important! Notice the pristine front landscaping (all drought-resistant), the immaculate front walkway, and the fresh paint and trim, all of which entice curious buyers to look inside.

Welcome In: A Bright, Sunny Living Room

staged living roomVisitors feel warm and welcome in this room of bright, natural lighting, neutral coloring, tasteful decor, and comfortable seating, yet the air of luxury—glossy floors, custom ceiling fan, elegant furniture and immaculately-placed pillows—is still definitely predominant.

Room to Dream: Keep it Simple in the Kitchen

staged kitchen Warm lighting pours through the overhead skylight, and the counters are pristinely clean but not stark, allowing visitors to begin mentally placing their own belongings and appliances throughout one of the most-used and well-loved rooms in the house.

Casual Class: A Cozy California Bedroom

beautiful bedroomSimplicity, elegance, and a sense of warmth and coziness—this bedroom has it all.

Stark Elegance: A Pristine, Newly-Remodeled Bathroom

newly remodeled bathroomThis bathroom was just recently completely renovated—note the elegant shower tiling, the marble bathroom counters, and the custom hardware and lighting. The best way to showcase elegant new features like this is to let them stand on their own to be admired.

Neatly Maintained: A Place to Spend the Afternoon

landscaped backyardThe backyard is important! Where else will you spend a sunny afternoon gardening or an evening barbecuing on the patio under the stars? Tidy landscaping, neat walkways, a tasteful fence, and a large patio area set the scene for your guests’ outdoor visions.

Ready to Stage Your Silicon Valley Home Just Like This?

If you’re selling a home in the Silicon Valley, then you should know the dire importance of good staging! If you want your home staged right, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. We’re your expert local Realtors and home stagers, and we’re ready to help you sell your home!

Want to See This Home in Person?

Did our staging work? If you liked the beautiful home you saw above, then give us a call! It’s on the market, and it’s ready to see in person. Not quite the right fit? We can help you search homes for sale in the Silicon Valley until you find the perfect home.

5 Home Staging Mistakes That Frighten Buyers Away

house with dark staircaseHalloween is just around the corner. For many homeowners, that means carving pumpkins, hanging up Halloween decorations, and stocking up on fun-sized candy. But if you’re a homeowner who is thinking about selling this fall season, you might be preparing your home for buyers instead of trick-or-treaters.

Home staging is a crucial part of home selling preparation. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 32% of buyers’ agents and 37% of sellers’ agents believe that a staged home increases the amount buyers are willing to pay up to 5%. On a $200,000 property, that’s $10,000!

But is your home effectively staged to sell? If you are preparing your home yourself, beware of these staging mistakes that scare away home buyers — and potentially thousands of dollars.

1. A Dark and Spooky Entryway

Your front entry is one of the first things buyers notice about your home. Peeling paint, deep shadows, and uninviting colors don’t create the best first impression. Turn your front entryway into a focal point by painting your door a bright color that complements your home.

cobwebs on dusty night stand2. Cobwebs in the Corners

At a showing, buyers are going to inspect virtually everything: light fixtures, closets, ceilings, you name it. Thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom (or hire a professional) to make it look like new. You can always ask a friend or neighbor to take an objective look at your home.

3. Startling Colors on Your Walls

The goal of home staging, besides selling your home for top dollar, is to help buyers visualize themselves living in your home. If you have bold, bright colors on your walls, switch to more neutral colors to appeal to all potential buyers.

4. Menacing Halloween Decorations

Staging your home for Halloween is fine in moderation. But remember, not all buyers will think the fake spiderwebs or rubber arms are festive. Unless the headless horseman himself is buying your home, it’s best to keep him out of your front yard.

standing in a long dark hallway5. Hovering Like a Ghost During Showings

How you present your home when it’s on the market goes hand-in-hand with home staging. Make your home available and make yourself scarce during showings. Potential buyers might find it creepy if the current homeowner is lurking somewhere in the shadows.

Thinking of Selling Your Home This Fall?

Selling your home doesn’t have to be scary. We have a wealth of home staging tips and home selling resources that will help you sell quickly and for top dollar. Contact us to learn more.

6 Ways to Save Money for Your First Home

savings jar filled with coinsFor many first-time home buyers, the idea of a 20% down payment is terrifying. It’s one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership. Maybe you want to own a home someday, but the thought of saving up thousands of dollars for a home purchase has deterred you from seriously considering it.

Believe it or not, it is possible to save enough money for a down payment and make your dreams of homeownership a reality. Here are just a few of the ways that you can start saving.

1. Track How Much You Spend Now

When saving for your first home, you’ll need to stick to a budget. Awareness of how much you spend can help you figure out where you can cut your costs. Consumer.gov outlines a few tips for creating a budget here.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

home buyer tracking financesEven if you don’t plan to buy a home for a few years, figuring out how much you can afford for your home will make your savings goal more concrete. Don’t forget to include taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance in your monthly payment calculations.

3. Start Small

Start saving for your down payment and other homeownership costs as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the less you will have to cut your spending and the more time you’ll have to reach your goal.

4. Shop Around for Other Loans

If you find that a 20% down payment is unrealistic, you can opt for a mortgage that offers lower down payment options. FHA loans, for instance, offer 3.5% down, and VA loans offer no money down.

Make sure to do your research. If you put less than 20% down on a home, you will have to purchase private mortgage insurance. We can talk more in depth about home financing options available to you.

home buyer looking at bank account5. Make Your Savings Automatic

Many people find it’s easier to save money if it’s automatically transferred into a savings account every month. Check to see if your bank offers automatic funds transfer services, or ask if your employer can direct a portion of your paycheck into your savings account.

6. Create a Separate Savings Account

Establishing a savings account specifically for your down payment and homeownership costs is another great way to set aside money for a home. If you decide to automatically transfer money to savings, creating a separate account may make it even easier.

We Can Make Your First Home Buying Experience Easier

first-time home buyers moving inWhen you’ve saved up enough money and are ready to buy a home, we have all the resources you need to make your homeownership dreams a reality. Have a question about owning a home? Call us.