Important Things to Consider Before Buying Your Next Home

Whether it be your first home or you’re deciding to make a change, buying a home can be a time-consuming and complicated process. To ensure your purchase goes as smooth as possible, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for and go into home buying with your priorities in order. Here are a few things to consider before buying your next home:

Move-in Ready or Fixer-upper

When you’re on the hunt for your next home, it’s crucial to know if you’re looking for something move-in ready or a fixer-upper. There are benefits to buying each type, but ultimately it’s up to you, your needs, and what you’re willing to take on. A move-in ready home has the perk of being able to enjoy it right away. Once your purchase is complete, and your family settles in, all that’s required of you is to kick back and relax. Turnkey homes also come with attractive upgrades such as high-end fixtures, appliances, and flooring, that require little to no work from you. Search move-in ready homes on the market right now!

If you decide to find a diamond in the rough, you’ll be able to do so for a lower price tag. Due to this, homes in need of updates are perfect for people who are looking for something budget-friendly. A cheaper price point can provide you with extra money to complete renovations and transform the space into your dream home.

Kitchen Layout

The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in the home, and can also be a key selling point in the home buying process, so it’s essential to keep the layouts in mind as you’re viewing homes. Don’t feel as though you have to stumble upon your dream kitchen, or sacrifice other aspects to acquire a luxury kitchen as you can always make updates and minor renovations. As long as the layout is functional and what you’re looking for, you can make changes to transform the space into what you truly want. 

Kitchen remodels are one of the most common projects that homeowners complete, and it’s no surprise since they are a gathering point in the home. Should you decide to perform a kitchen renovation to achieve your dream kitchen, consider kitchen remodel costs to help you assess your needs and wants for the room. For example, refinishing cabinets, new hardware, and light fixtures, flooring, and appliances can all be incorporated into a minor kitchen remodel, without having you redo your entire living space. 

Price Point

Before you begin looking, you should determine your price range and ensure you’re pre-approved for a home loan. This will help you stay on budget and find a home within your means to live comfortably. It’s also essential to research the house and ask questions before you move forward and are left feeling as though you received a poor deal. 

Once you’re ready to move forward, you must assess your monthly debts to determine your down payment percentage. Many argue that at 10% downpayment will do the trick, and can leave you with extra money in your pocket for home improvement projects or other additional expenses. The downside of a lower downpayment is that it can lead you to high monthly mortgage payments and can even be more challenging to receive approval. 

Instead, consider a down payment of 20%, as this can be beneficial in the long run. This can provide you with a smaller loan, lower monthly payments, and more equity. Just keep in mind that a 20% downpayment will require some saving ahead of time! 

Location is Important

Wherever your new home may be, you will be driving to and from each day, and that can be a dealbreaker for some, if not most, people. Viewing a home before researching the neighborhood can lead to problems down the road. 

Most buyers want a location that provides them with easy access to their everyday commutes, as well as main roads or other places you may frequent the most. If your previous drive to the grocery store was short, and home farther away may make routine tasks feel like a hassle. Be sure to speak with your realtor about neighborhoods and streets you prefer, as you want to be happy and comfortable where you settle down. 

Needs vs. Wants

It can be easy to fall in love with large houses that come with all the bells and whistles. It’s important you remember your budget and develop a list of needs and wants for your future home. Don’t buy over budget as that can lead to issues down the road, and make living in your home more complicated than it needs to be. 

Be sure to begin simple, and slowly upgrade. You don’t have to furnish each room with brand new items. Instead, start with what you have, and with every new purchase, you integrate into your home, remove or sell something old to prevent clutter. 

If you take these considerations with you into the home buying process, you’ll be sure to have a smooth sailing purchase and a home you love. 

How to Buy a House: A Beginner’s Guide

Congratulations! You’re pretty sure you’re ready to buy a house. You’ve done some research and you’ve been scoping out houses available in your area online. Great! So what comes next?

Buying a home is a REALLY big step — probably the biggest financial move you’ll make — and it can come with a lot of anxiety and questions. Luckily, here at RealtyHive, this is something we do Every. Single. Day. Here’s a  REALLY simplified version of the home buying process in a perfect, simplea(and often typical) transaction.

1) Get Pre-Approved

Before you even think about talking to an agent, you’ll want to talk to a few mortgage lenders about what you’re looking for and what you can afford. It’s a good idea to talk to at least three different lenders: one from a bank, one from a credit union, and one from a mortgage lending institute. This is one of the biggest steps in the process so it’s a good idea to have a little background before you set these meetings up. Check out Home Loans 101 to learn everything you were never taught about home loans in school. 

2) Find an Agent

There’s often a debate on whether or not you need to use an agent when selling a home, but when it comes to buying, the answer is clear. You need to use an agent. Among the other benefits (Check out this article on why you need a Buyer’s agent), you won’t pay anything for their services and they’ll guide you along during the process. 

BONUS: RealtyHive has a new program called Cashifyd that pairs you with a local agent who will show you homes, give you advice, and give you a cash back credit on your closing costs (saving you money)!

3) Find Contender Properties

Your agent will likely set you up with a listing cart from their MLS (an agent-only portal that shows the info on all available properties in your area). You’ll be able to set filters like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size, location, and others to narrow down your selections. If you’re interested in possibly seeing “For Sale by Owner” properties, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for those as they won’t show in your listing cart. When you find a property you want to see, tell your agent and they’ll set up a showing for you. 

4) Visit Properties & Fall in Love

Depending where you live and where you’re looking to buy, the market could have a plethora of properties that meet your criteria or you may be looking for awhile. If you find “the one” right away, great!, but don’t feel obligated to write an offer on a home you’re not completely sure of just because you’ve been looking for awhile. It’s important to remember that things like landscaping and paint colors can be changed easily, but major repairs and permanent features (like location) are deciding factors. 

5) Make Your Offer

Again, depending where you are and what you’re looking at, you might be the only offer the property receives or you may be one of several offers. This is where having an agent is vital. They can help you make a compelling offer and make sure you include the things that are important to you (like having inspections). You’ll sit down with them and complete the multi-page offer that covers everything from purchase price (including earnest money) to contingencies to timelines. 

5) Offer is Accepted

In the best case scenario, your offer is accepted outright. It could also be rejected or the sellers could counter your offer to try to get a more amicable deal. Assuming the offer is accepted, you are now one (major!) step closer to being a homeowner. 

6) Get Your Checkbook Ready

From this point on, things move pretty quickly. First you’ll need to submit your earnest money. This is a like a downpayment to the seller that says “I’m serious enough to put this down” Your earnest money will come back to you as a credit on the closing statement or refunded to you if the deal falls apart due to contingencies outlined in your offer, but be aware that you could lose your earnest money if you back out of the deal for no good reason. 

7) Get on the Phone

While you’re basking in the excitement of your accepted offer, there’s a few things you need to accomplish. First, you’ll need to talk to your insurance agent. You need to prove that the home is insurable and they can get the paperwork rolling on that. They’ll need to provide this to your mortgage lender and you’ll have to pay one year of homeowners insurance before closing. The next thing you’ll (most likely) need to do is schedule inspections. Depending on what type of inspections your wrote into your offer, you could be looking at scheduling a few different inspection ranging from a general home inspection to a well and septic test to a radon test. You’ll want these to be scheduled as quickly as possible so that you don’t miss any of the following deadlines (which could cause the deal to fall apart). You’ll also let you lender know that you found a home and have an accepted offer, but be sure to tell them to NOT schedule the appraisal if you’re waiting on inspections. Also during this time a floodplain check will be done by the lender. This is to ensure that the home is not in a floodplain area and you can often get out of your offer if you do not like the results of this check. 

8) Have the Lender Schedule Appraisal

If you’ve got your inspections done and you’re still wanting to proceed with the purchase, it’s time to let your lender know to schedule the appraisal. This inspection is a little different than the inspections you just had done. You can learn more about appraisals in Appraisal, Assessments, and Inspections

9) Money, Money, Money

When the property appraisal comes back at or above the purchase price, it’s loan commitment time. There’s nothing you need to do here, but you should be aware that this is going on. Shortly after this, your lender will let you know exactly how much money you need to bring to closing. Be aware that there are costs outside of whatever you offered on the property that you will be responsible for. These can include tax escrow, title fees, appraisal fees, and more.

10) Final Walk Through

A day or a few days before closing, you’ll get your chance for a final walkthrough. This is your last chance to make sure everything is in (roughly) the same condition as when you put in your offer. Keep in mind that minor wear and tear can happen and that if you’re planning on getting out of your offer at this time, you should have a really good reason or you’ll almost certainly be forfeiting your earnest money. 

11) Closing Time

On closing day, you’ll meet with your agent, your lender and the representative of the title company to sign papers. You’ll give them the closing cost money (your lender will provide the mortgaged amount) and sign many papers. After that you’ll get the keys. 

Congratulations, you are now a homeowner!

Simple, right?! Let us know of any questions you have in the comments section below or check out some of the amazing properties for sale now on RealtyHive!

kids jumping into pool header image

Pool Homes: What to know before you dive in

As the weather heats up, so does the housing market and there are plenty of reasons why summer is a great time to buy a home. With the long daylight hours and warm sunny weather, summer is a great time to move, landscape, and do all those projects new homeowners want to jump right into. Summer is also the ideal time to buy a pool home. It doesn’t take long before buyers are dreaming of cookouts on the patio and pool parties with friends and families. Before you get too far into the deep end, here are some things you need to know before buying a house with a pool.

Summer is the best time to buy a home with a pool

Buying a pool home in the summer is an obvious choice, after all, it’s hard to swim in frigid December temperatures, but this timing is ideal for another reason. If you choose to buy a pool that is winterized or shut down for the season, you have to trust the seller’s word as to whether or not it was working, but if you buy a home with a pool during the summer months, your inspector will be able to fully assess the condition of both the pool itself and the mechanics.

You may need a separate inspection

In regions where pools are very common, it’s possible the home inspector you choose will also be qualified to inspect a pool. If you live in a location where pools are not common, you’re probably going to want to have someone who specializes in pools to perform an inspection. Inspections are vital prior to purchasing a home as this allows you to negotiate with the seller for repairs or price reductions based on the findings.

Be aware of the possible issues

Pools typically come in one of three styles: concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl liner. There are pros and cons to each and you can check out this great article from River Pools and Spas for a full explanation.

In general, fiberglass pools are low maintenance and beautiful, but high cost initially and come in limited shapes. Vinyl liner pools are low cost initially and are very customizable, but they can be prone to damage and tend to need replacement every 5-9 years. Concrete pools are flexible in terms of design and can accommodate any size or feature request you would like, but also require more chemicals and maintenance to keep in good repair.

Owning a home with a pool can lead to you spend more time with family and friends or it can be a very expensive headache on your property. It’s important to consider how much you will use a pool and how much maintenance you’re willing to do to understand if owning a pool is worth the effort for you.

Do you have a pool? Wish you did or didn’t? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

female hands on laptop keys

Stock Up & Save on Your Home Goods

Just a head’s up! This post contains referral codes/links. All the services mentioned below are free to join and signing up via these links may result in an additional sign-up bonus for you. Use of the referral may also award the author of this blog for sharing this code. Author’s note: Thank you!

Whether you purchased a new home or decided to restyle your current home, there’s a deal to be had if you know where to look! Here are the best ways to save money on your home renovations and furnishings!

Rakuten (Formerly Ebates)

Available online and app store

Special Offer: Receive $10 reward from Rakuten when signing up by clicking here. See site for details.

Online and in-store shoppers alike can find great savings with Rakuten. Connect your card of choice, choose your retailers, and shop — while earning up to 10% cash back! Rakuten offers deals on everything you need for your dream home from places like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Pier 1 Imports, Best Buy, Ace Hardware, and Lowe’s. The deals don’t just apply to home goods, though! Rakuten can help you save on everything from travel to pet supplies to clothing and more!

Pro Tip: If you choose to sign up via the app, make sure to also visit the website to select stores for in-store credit. Visiting the website is the only way to do this and can increase the amount of cash you receive back. Also, for those who do a lot of online shopping, Rakuten offers a browser extension (also only available on the website) that can alert you whenever you’re visiting a qualifying merchant’s site and can provide discounts, free gift or free shipping offers!


Available online and app store

Special Offer: Use this referral link or code aaswtw to sign up today

Ibotta is a cashback service that helps you save money on the things you shop for every day. Ibotta saves you money on items at grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, as well as helping you save on home goods and electronics from places like Target, Home Depot, Lowes, and many more. Simply shop as you normally would, use the app to select the retailers you have visited and the items you have purchased, take a picture of your receipt, and receive money back. You can maximize Ibotta by viewing the products and brands offered before you purchase  and shop the products that offer the best value. Sign up for Ibotta by clicking here.

Fetch Rewards

Available in app stores

Special Offer: Use Referral code XF6WC to receive an additional 2000 points with your first qualifying scan. See Fetch Rewards for details.

Fetch is a grocery-specific rewards program that helps to save you money on the groceries you buy normally. This app is one of the easiest to use as there is no need to select a retailer or search through products. Simply take a photo of your receipt and Fetch Rewards will scan your receipt to find your qualifying purchases and add credit to your account. Credit can then be redeemed for gift cards to a variety of retailers.

Receipt Hog

Available in app stores

Special Offers: None

Receipt Hog is one of the slower-earning cashback apps, but ease of use, and a fun little rewards game, make this one worth downloading. Simply scan your receipt and earn points. The amount/value of the points is low compared to other reward apps listed above, but Receipt Hog does offer a bonus game to earn extra credits when you upload a certain number of receipts. More information is visible via the app, but you can check out Receipt Hog online to find the app download link.

Whether you’re planning to stock the fridge and pantry or completely revamp your new home with electronics and decor, these are the best apps available to help you save money while you buy the things you need.

Know of any other great cashback apps or money saving tricks? Let us know in the comments below!

DIY Home Improvement Ideas

DIY Home Improvement Ideas


Looking for ways to spice up your home? These DIY home improvement ideas are simple, creative, and fun!


  1. Organized Kitchen Spice Cabinet

Spices in a cabinet

Have you ever had a kitchen cupboard become so overcrowded with spices that you could never find anything? Spice containers are easy to misplace, they all look the same! Well, good news, because with these simple steps you can easily organize your spice cabinet to be efficient, appealing, and all with minimal effort!

Find instructions at: Organizing Home Life


2. Patterned Return Air Grille

Before and after image of return air grille. On the top is a rough looking air grille, and on the bottom is an air grille with a flowered pattern

Recreate your old air grille by designing a new one! Most people have the same air grille that looks like its been in the house since forever. But with a few hours, you can turn something simple and boring into something creative and fun!

Find instructions at: The Friendly Home


  1. Mason Jar Solar Lights

Decorative mason jars with lights hanging from a ceiling

This project is great because there are so many ways you could use it! You could bring it out for parties and celebrations, and use it for an outdoor patio light, or you can hang it up right in your bedroom! Not only does it make a creative light source for an adult, but it can make a super cool night light for a child!

Find instructions at: DIY Projects


4. Painted Trim

Hand with a paintbrush painting a wall white

It’s something that seems so small, and yet it makes a big difference in the overall look of your home. Painting the trim is a great way to make improvements all throughout your house. All you need is a roller, tape, paint, caulk, and a willingness to get your hands dirty!

Find instructions at: LiveLoveDIY


5. Rustic Cooler

Plastic cooler with wooden planks next to it

This project is great for outdoor celebrations and parties. Instead of having to lug around an old plastic cooler, you can build your own and enjoy a cool refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon. Plus, you can make it as big or tall as you want, and when you’re done, just fill with ice and drinks and enjoy!

Find instructions at: Hometalk


  1. Crate Bookshelf

Large bookshelf made of crates stacked on top of each other

Make no mistake, it may be called a “bookshelf” but you can store whatever you want with this project! Whether it’s books, supplies, clothes, or family mementos it’s up to you! You can also customize the shelf to be as big or small as you want. Don’t have enough room? Just remove one crate and reshape it! Plus, it really comes in handy when you need to create some extra storage space.

Find instructions at: Tara Michelle Interiors

hand holding the word loans

Things They Don’t Teach in School: Home Loans 101

Before you start looking at what’s on the market and dreaming of paint colors, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to afford a new home. When it comes to getting financing, there are a ton of case-by-case scenarios so it’s important to talk to a professional about how much you can afford, what payments and terms are like, and more, but it helps to have a little background information.

When you begin to dig into your options, it’s important to ask about things like interest rates, whether they’re fixed or variable, if there’s a penalty for paying it off early, and many other details. However, to get started, it’s good to have some background knowledge on your options.
Conventional Loan
AKA: Conforming loans, non-conforming loans, portfolio loans, sub-prime loans
Property Type: Single-Family Primary Residence, Second home, rental property
How it works: A lender such as a bank or credit union issues the loan without any government backing
Benefit of Using: Can have lower down payment, lower monthly payments, and higher loan amounts for people with good credit
Down payment: As low as 3%
Credit: Generally best for people with a credit score of 680 or higher
Income Requirements: Varies by lender
Prepayment Penalty: Varies by lender
Mortgage Insurance: Not generally required with down payment of 20% or more, lower than FHA mortgage insurance costs, and is usually able to be cancelled with equity reaches 20%

  • Standard loan limits exist, but are higher than with FHA loan ie. $453,100 for 1-unit home and can vary based on area

U.S. Federal Housing Administration Loan
AKA: FHA loan
Property Type: Single-Family, Condos, Multi-Family, and Manufactured
How it works: Private lenders issue the loans, FHA provides backing. If homeowner doesn’t repay loan, FHA will pay lender instead.
Benefit of Using: Lenders are willing to make substantial mortgage loans in cases they normally wouldn’t because of FHA backing.
Down payment: As low as 3.5% — can come from gift money or seller help
Credit: Can have thin credit or history of credit problems. Two or three years after a financial hardship is typically enough time to qualify.
Income Requirements: No minimum is required, but you need enough to demonstrate the ability to repay the loan. High incomes aren’t disqualified as with some other first-time buyer programs.
Prepayment Penalty: None
Mortgage Insurance: Required

  • Check with several lenders. Lenders can set standards that are more strict than minimum FHA requirements, so if you’re having troubles with one, check with another.
    Credit scores below 580 typically require more than the 3.5% down payment
  • There are maximum loan amounts set that vary by area. Find out what your local limit is at the HUD website
  • For people with low or no credit, FHA can be a great choice, but those with high credit scores may find better rates through a different program.

USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program
AKA: U.S. Department of Agriculture Mortgage Program
Property Type: Owner-occupied primary residences
How it works: USDA backs a mortgage issued by a participating local lender, similar to VA or FHA loans
Benefit of Using: Help low and very low income applicants. Income thresholds vary by region, but with subsidies, rates can be as low as 1%
Down payment: 0%
Credit: Applicants with scores about 640 receive streamlined processing, but those with lower scores or limited credit history can still qualify.
Income Requirements: Varies by region, but generally only for low income applicants.
Prepayment Penalty: None
Mortgage Insurance: Requires upfront fee of 1% of total loan amount and mortgage insurance fee equal to 0.35% of the loan balance per year.

  • USDA mortgages are designed to help those with the greatest need. This means individuals or families that are 1) without “decent, safe and sanitary housing” 2) unable to secure a home loan from traditional sources and 3) has an adjusted income at or below the low-income limit for the area where they live
  • Typically issues direct loans for homes with 2,000 square feet or less
  • Metro areas are generally excluded, but some opportunities may exist in suburbs. Rural locations are always eligible

VA Loan
AKA: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan program
Property Type: Owner-occupied single family, Condos, manufactured home, and in some cases new construction can qualify
How it works: VA loans are issued by private lenders and backed by the U.S. government
Benefit of Using: Only available to active duty military member and veterans, this program helps service members purchase a home without a downpayment or excellent credit.
Down payment: 0%
Credit: No official minimum, but borrowers typically look for a score of 620
Income Requirements: No maximum, but does have a unique “residual income” qualifier
Prepayment Penalty: No
Mortgage Insurance: Not required

  • In most parts of the country, VA loans can be used to purchase a home worth up to $453,100 without a down payment. In high priced markets, this can be increased. See your area here.
  • Like other government-backed loans, lenders may have more stringent requirements than the VA requirements. Shop around to find the best option for you.

#Adulting: Landscaping for People Who Kill Everything

There’s usually no defining moment that stands out as “The Day I Learned to Landscape” so it’s typically long and arduous process filled with errors, aha! moments, and usually a handful of dead plants. When you first buy your home it’s easy to envision how it will look with window boxes filled with flowers and a vegetable garden in the back, but if your thumb is more brown than green, you may want to slow down.

Like the ability to drink black coffee or appreciate contemporary classical music, landscaping seems to be one of those things you magically get better at with age. One day it’s a sea of sugary frappuccinos and dead houseplants, and the next, it clicks. Your once bitter coffee is now mind fuel and your once wilted potted plants become a bed of flowers.

Or something.

Either way, your new home is lacking landscaping and you don’t really want to spend all your money on plants you’re probably hopefully not going to kill. So what’s a new homeowner to do? It’s time for some outside #adulting.


woman smelling flowers


Be Realistic
Sure, you might dream of an insta-worthy backyard filled with the lush orchids you saw on your honeymoon in the islands, but you’re not getting hibiscus in Minnesota. Not outdoors and not easily. Likewise you might dream of a big ol’ sugar maple you can tap in the spring and watch grow over the years, but that’s simply not going to happen if you live in Arizona.

The goal is to find something that works well for your climate. If you find things that can grow wild where you live and you’ll know you’re on the right track. Local horticulture and gardening groups will be your best resource to find plants that are hearty and well-suited for your particular area.


people's feet while looking at garden


Enlist Assistance
The do-it-yourself trend makes it easy to believe that after reading some articles and watching some videos, you can figure out pretty much anything. While that might lead to some success when it comes to fixing a washing machine or opening a wine bottle without a corkscrew, if you use that same mentality for gardening you’re apt to fail. Don’t get us wrong, do-it-yourself gardening is a great way to really get your hands dirty (literally) and learn about what you’re doing, but do-it-yourself shouldn’t mean do-it-by-yourself. If you’ve got a habit of killing your plants or you don’t know where to get started, enlist some help. If there’s a local gardening or horticulture group you can join, great! If not, look for Facebook or other online social groups in your area. These groups tend to be filled with gardeners of all skill levels and they can be more than happy to help you figure out where to start or what comes next.

woman in shrubs

Don’t Pick Things That Will Die
If keeping your house looking fresh and landscaped throughout the year is important to you, you’ll want to pick things that look good for most of the year. While blooming flowers are pretty, they only last for a few months max and then you’re left with barren space. Expert gardeners and landscapers are able to plan so that each spot has the appropriate flowers for each season, but if you’re starting out you may want to consider shrubs instead. Shrubs are designed to be hearty, add color, and last year round making them a much better value as well as easier to care for.

woman walking in garden nursery

Read the Directions
So you know what to plant according to where you live, but you’ll need to do a little more research before you can just put the plant in the ground and call it a garden. Does your plant need more sun or shade? Does it like a lot of water or would drier be better? Plants bought as nurseries or big box store gardening sections tend to have this information available–sometimes right in or on the pot you take home. Read and heed these directions, that’s the best way to ensure your plant will thrive.

If you try these tips, and still have trouble cultivating the garden you desire, remember the words of Janet Kilburn Phillips,

“The are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

girl on phone

#Adulting: Get your house together in 10 minutes or less

Most of us also remember as kids how we used to laugh and roll our eyes at our mom when she suddenly became a hurricane flurry of sweeping and mopping because “We have COMPANY COMING!” as if the Queen herself was about to show up at our door or our guests would really notice the last time the ceiling fan was dusted.

While we’ve definitely gotten more relaxed as a culture (when was the last time you wore pearls and heels to have dinner at a friend’s house?), there are definitely a few standards that should be upheld. Sometimes kids, pets, or Netflix win and your home looks a little more like a Frat house than an adult home, and somehow this ALWAYS happens right before you find out guests are on their way.

Thankfully, you don’t need to dust the valances or sweep behind the refrigerator (looking at you, Mom!) to make your house presentable for these drop-in guests. Here’s the # adulting way to get your house in order before the doorbell rings!
messy room with lots of stuff
Focus on the Important Rooms
People gather in the kitchen, sometimes hang out in the living room, and will often use the bathroom. Whether your home is 600 square feet or 6,000 this holds true. If you’re expecting to have guests over, you’ll have to plan to prepare more of your home, but if they’re just dropping by tackle these rooms and don’t worry about dealing with the rest. If your kitchen is part of your main problem, pull out some refreshments so you can be prepared to meet your guests in whichever room you feel is best.
no peeking buddah

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The easiest way to clean up is to pull a page from the teenager’s playbook and not actually put your stuff away, but rather just stash it. If you live in a Studio apartment, you might be limited on how much of your stuff you can put out of sight, but if you have a bedroom or another room you know your guests won’t go in, just put everything in a laundry basket or box and deal with it later. Is this the most mature and responsible way to deal with housekeeping? Absolutely not. Will it do the trick for the time being? Definitely.
jars of candles
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Our senses shape our perceptions so if your house smells clean, guests will automatically think it is cleaner than it is. Lighting some candles or using an aromatherapy diffuser is a great way to trick the mind into believing a home is clean and welcoming. Citrus smells work the best for this (hello, lemony-fresh!), but this will work whether you’re into expensive boutique candles or some good ol’ Nag Champa.
daylight room
Use Mood Lighting
If you were going to be showing your house to a potential buyer, you’d want to turn all the lights on (and actually clean the place!), but since you’re just trying to pull your house together to look like an adult turn it down low. Using lamps instead of overhead lighting or natural light instead of artificial will help to cut the chance that anyone will even see the dust bunny colonies you’ve got started.
two women sitting on a patio
When All Else Fails
Outdoor entertaining spaces were made for entertaining pop-in guests. Whether it’s a deck, patio, porch, or something else these outdoor spaces tend to not acquire the amount of clutter as in other areas. The best part? No one will judge you for having sun-faded lawn chairs or a water spotted patio table because that’s what’s expected. Of course you can’t use outdoor spaces in every day in every climate, but if you’ve got the option, this can be your perfect solution.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy spending time with your guests in your well-kept, #adult home!

girl holding cleaning products clean

#Adulting: The stuff you’re not cleaning (but totally should!)

Congrats! You’ve joined the exclusive group of Millennial homeowners!

Now what?

While owning your own home is great— you can have the pets you want, decorate as you wish, and you probably have more space than you did as a renter–it can be a little overwhelming. Instead of just calling a landlord to fix things that are broken or not having to think about things like air filters (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, hopefully your building manager was up on that!), it’s now all on you. You know you need to do the dishes, cut the lawn, and fix anything that’s not working (…or not, it’s your house!), but how can you prevent problems in the first place?

Easy: Do a little preventative maintenance– it’s much less expensive to be proactive than reactive and taking care of your investment is part of #adulting

The easiest way is to keep up on these tasks is to associate them with roughly 6 month interval. You can use a holiday, a season, or something else, but we suggest doing these tasks during daylight savings times. You already have to remember to change your clocks so that might help you remember to do your other homeownerly duties.

There are a bunch of things that should be done outside your home, but because of the range of climates and geographic-based home needs, we’re not getting into that now. What needs to be done outside on a house in March in Phoenix is completely different than a home in Wisconsin, but there are a variety of interior tasks that are the same across the board.

This checklist is by no means comprehensive. Some of this stuff should be done more often, but adulting can be hard and housework isn’t as much fun as brunch and SundayFundays (#sorrynotsorry) so take this as a beginner’s guide to homeownership, not a master class.
cleaning supplies broom mop dust bin
Systems and Stuff
Heating/Cooling System: Change the air filter
Smoke/Carbon Monoxide: Test alarms and check batteries (if they have batteries–some won’t)
Garage door auto-reverse: Make sure door will reverse if closed on something or if something is detected by the photo-electric sensors (please use a 2×4 or something, not your foot or body!)
Water Softener: Check your salt levels.
Water Filter: Check and replace if needed.
Hot Water Heater: Flush it. Read a how-to article based on whether you have a gas or electric heater. Being dumb can lead to a mess or scalding burns. Don’t be dumb.
Dryer Vent: Check dryer vent and remove all the lint you can. Test it by starting up your dryer and making sure there’s good airflow wherever the exhaust comes out. Replace dryer hose or have it professionally cleaned if you’re having issues.
clean kitchen
Garbage Disposal: Clean it by freezing white vinegar in ice cube trays. Grind them up. Done. Boom!
Dishwasher: Pull the racks out. Pull the sprayer part out. Pull the mat out. Pull it all out. If you’ve never done this before, be prepared to be grossed out!
Range Hood Filter: Take it off and give it a good scrub. If this is the first time or first in a long time, this is also going to be gross. Use an automotive degreaser. Alternatively, new ones are typically less than $20. Maybe just buy one.
Refrigerator Coils: Vacuum refrigerator coils. Yes, it’s a pain to move the fridge, but is so worth it to keep it working and cut energy costs. This is super important if you have high-shedding pets!
clean bathroom
Faucets and Fixtures: Soak shower heads and faucets to remove buildup. Put vinegar or another cleaner in a plastic bag. Submerge the shower head/faucet and rubberband in place. Soak until it’s clean-able.
Bathroom Vent Fan: Cut the power at the breaker. Pull it apart. Use a vacuum with a brush. Put it back together and be amazed at how much better it works.
Drains: Use a hair clog tool to remove any large chunks and then finish with chemicals or vinegar and baking soda, depending on your preferences.
clean bedroom
Vacuum Mattresses: Remove all bedding and use an attachment to make it easier.
Closets: Organize closets and donate whatever you don’t need/want/use

Real Estate Tech You Should Know

Real Estate Tech Solutions for Agents

One of the best things about real estate tech is that it’s always changing. This also happens to be one of the worst things about real estate tech. It  seems as though once you’ve gotten the hang of one platform or device, it’s already outdated. Improvements in technology have made marketing your listings and yourself much easier. If you’ve already covered the basics, social media profiles, up-to-date website, and confidence using smartphone apps, then this article is for you. Here are a couple of technology tricks for you to use to make your business a tech-sess!

360° photos and video

Arguably one of the best new pieces of real estate tech is 360° photos and videos. Using the camera on your phone, you are able to create photos and video that allow the viewer to “move” through your picture. The photo at the top of this page is an example. If you scroll, swipe, or rotate your whole body, you can explore the room as if you were there. While this technology came about a few years ago, it is now about to hit critical mass. That is because its supported by streaming services, such as Youtube, as well as social media such as Facebook.

How to Use: While all smartphones have the ability to shoot 360° photos and videos, not all phones have the technology built in. The Facebook app recently unveiled this ability with a built-in feature. To do this, open the Facebook app and click on the status update area. Then click the “360 photos” option and hold down the photo button while slowing rotating. You’ll be able to see your progress. When you have made a full 360 rotation, the app will then stitch the photo together and show you the final product. You are able to exit out of the Facebook app without posting and the photo will have saved to your phone as a 360 photo. If you’re not a Facebook user, the “Panorama 360 Camera+ Photosphere support+ VR video” app is a free alternative, and is available on iTunes and Google Play. You can use this photo in social media posts, upload onto your website, or have it hosted on an outside website and use their services to show it off.

See how to create 360° pictures on any camera

Facebook Ads

Did you know Facebook has more than 2 billion worldwide users? If you’re looking to show your properties to a wider audience, you must consider Facebook as an essential advertising tool. Facebook’s ad creation platform is relatively easy to use and the ability to target by location is great for real estate. Facebook analytics provided will show you how to get the most for your money.

How to Use: Facebook ads can be taken out by an individual or business page. You’ll start by logging into your Facebook account on a computer and clicking on the inverted triangle in the upper right corner. Under this tab, you’ll see the “Create Ads” tab. Click on that and Facebook will guide you through the process. For each property you purchase an ad for, you are able to upload information, photos or videos, and a link to contact you or direct to a website. Once you’ve placed an ad, you’ll be able to monitor the performance and make adjustments via the Facebook Ad Manager.

Learn how to create a Facebook ad

Mobile Signature Apps

If you’re face-to-face with a client having them sign on the dotted line is no issue. On the other hand, if you’re making a deal remotely you don’t want to have to play the email-and-wait game. What if the contract goes to their spam folder? What if they don’t have the right programs to open it? We live in a world of immediacy and waiting for the mail just won’t cut it anymore. When you make a deal you want to get it signed and continue on, which is why mobile signature apps are so great. With this piece of real estate tech, your contracts and agreements can be signed on a mobile device almost immediately, moving you into action.

How to Use: There are a variety of different apps that can help you capture mobile signatures. Docusign is one example and their app is available for free on the iTunes and Google Play stores. The best way to find out which will work for you is to try out a few services. Maybe even enlist a friend or colleague to test it out so you can see how it looks on both ends. One non-negotiable feature you should look for is the ability for a person to sign documents without needing to install or download anything. Needing to do so will drastically cut your response rates.

How to insert a online signature in an email

Online-Only Events

It used to be that when you had property to sell, you’d put a sign in the yard and waited for a buyer to call. Buyers tended to live near the place they were buying land or property. Not today. In the globalized world of 2019, buyers can come from anywhere in the world. According to CNBC, foreign buyers closed on $153 billion worth of US residential properties between April 2016 – March 2017 and this trend shows no signs of stopping. Online-only auction events are a great way to reach buyers all around the world!

How to Use:  There are a variety of platforms that allow you to host an online-only event. RealtyHive is a great option as it increases global exposure of your listing, without costing you, the agent, anything. With this platform, your listing continues to be your listing and all leads are your leads. For more information on how online-only events would work for you, contact RealtyHive directly.

Here’s a blog post about selling your home online! 

As technology changes, so do the possibilities for marketing your properties and your brand. With just a little bit of tech savvy and a willingness to try something new, you will see great results in 2018!