Staging Your House Like a Pro Without Breaking the Bank

Staging Your House Like a Pro Without Breaking the Bank

Staging Your House Like a Pro Without Breaking the Bank

Presenting your home in its best light to potential buyers is an essential if often overlooked, step to getting it sold. Many times sellers think the cost is too high to have their homes staged, so they forgo this expense and hope that the house will sell anyway. But staging your house doesn’t have to be expensive and it may be just the difference you need to sell your home quickly.

Set Your Home Apart From the Competition

You can take your home from average to exceptional by doing small things to give you an edge over the house down the street. Consider the following 5 tips for staging your home like a pro:

1) Add Visual Zest

A fresh bouquet of flowers is a simple way to add a nice touch when showing your home. Plants or flowers on either side of your front door are a great way to begin a tour. They can also brighten a room and make potential buyers feel welcomed and at ease. At the end of the day, everything looks and feels better with flowers.

2) Pay Attention to What’s Visible

When a potential buyer comes into your house, they’re looking at everything. Every surface, every space, and every piece of furniture. Look at your bookcases. Remove items that don’t belong. Look at every surface of every cabinet, appliance, wall, and floor. Clean and clear everywhere so it always looks and feels freshly cleaned.You don’t want them to see how you live, but to envision themselves living there.

3)  Add Style to Coffee Tables

A central area in many homes is the coffee table.When staging your house, be mindful of how your coffee table is presented. This is often one of the first places eyes are drawn to in the room. Make sure it’s clean, tidy, and in good condition. Add flowers for extra flare.

4) Consider the view from the street

It’s important to make a lasting first impression, and your home is no different. A well-mowed lawn and groomed flower beds help make that pleasing first impression that will last. Sweep your porch, trim the hedges, and wash all your windows inside and out.

5) De-clutter Everything.

Clutter makes even the cleanest room feel dirty and the biggest room feel small. Declutter your living areas, dining room, bathrooms, kitchen and even your bedrooms. Take a look at your closets and be intentional about what you leave in them. They need to look like they’re being used, but keep it tidy and don’t overstuff them with things. Also look at how much furniture you have in each room. Keep only what fits well and looks appealing.  

Sold is the Goal

Getting your home sold is the ultimate goal, and while staging your house will give it the best opportunity to sell, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to get it done. By seeing your home through the prospective buyer’s eyes, you can make changes that will cost you little to nothing with great impact.

For more information on preparing your house for sale or for assistance buying or selling a home, The Lippincott Team is standing by, Contact Us.

What You Need to Know About Property Tax and the Texas Homestead Exemption

What You Need to Know About Property Tax and the Texas Homestead Exemption

No one wants to pay more taxes than you have to. The good news is that the Texas Homestead Exemption allows homeowners to keep more of their hard earned money in their pockets, where it belongs. Other than exemptions for disabled veterans or survivors, the following applies only for your primary residence and not to any other property you own.

Claimed Property Tax Can Keep More Money in Your Pocket

Texas Homestead Exemptions exclude a portion of your home’s worth from taxation, thus lowering your neighborhood taxes. Here is what you need to know when filing this tax season.

The Home Must be Yours

In order to qualify for the Texas Homestead property tax exemption, the home must meet the definition of ‘residence homestead’ which means that the owner is not a corporation, and it must be used as the primary residence. If you are 65 or older, then different rules would apply and you would file under the ‘65 or disabled’ homestead exemption. If you own a percentage of a home then you will receive only a part of the qualified exemption.

The Home Must be Your Principal Residence

If you own multiple homes then you can only get an exemption on the one that is used as your primary residence on the 1st of January of the year you are filing. If you are temporarily relocated, you are still able to receive the property tax exemption on your primary residence, but you must be planning on returning. Even if you rent or use a portion of your house for business, then you still qualify for the Texas Homestead Exemption.

Application Deadlines

You should file your regular residential homestead exemption application between January 1 and April 30. Make sure your application is postmarked by April 30 to allow the district time to process it in time for your fall tax statement.

Save Where You Can

Property tax exemptions, are an excellent way to save more of the money that you earn. As a homeowner, don’t pass up this opportunity to take advantage of these benefits.

To learn more about property taxes in your neighborhood, or for help buying or selling a house, Contact Us.

How to Optimize Your Selling Price

How to Optimize Your Selling Price

When you are ready to sell your house, you want to get the best price, bottom line. After all, no one puts their house up for sale hoping for a mediocre offer. The following strategies will give you the best opportunity to optimize your selling price.

3 Ways to Optimize Your Selling Price

There are many things to remember when selling a house. Getting the best price often takes extra care and utilizing specific strategies. Work with a quality real estate team for best results and use the following 3 strategies:

Don’t Always Accept the First Offer

The moment an offer comes in is exciting and can be very enticing to accept it right away. After all, isn’t it our main goal to get the house sold? However, accepting that first offer may be missing a big opportunity to earn more for your house.

A better strategy often is to wait out that first bid. This gives a second buyer the chance to come in and also make an offer. This often results in a bidding war that ultimately earns you more for your house. Therefore, before jumping to accept the first offer by a prospective buyer, consider waiting to see if another offer comes in to bring the selling price up.

Start Low and Finish Higher

This strategy is powerful in combination with the first strategy. While it may seem counterproductive for any motivated seller, this strategy is capable of creating the foundation for a bidding war that may bring your final selling price well above expectations.

By pricing your house slightly lower than expected you may pique the interest of more buyers. Generating interest is arguably one of the most important, and hardest parts of selling your house. With the right price, buyers begin imagining themselves in the home the moment they step into it. What all this means to you, the seller is multiple buyers competing for your home, in turn, create a bidding war that could drive the selling price beyond your asking price.

Be Ready to Make Changes to Stand Out

Another way to generate interest is making your home stand out. This is where an experienced realtor can really assist you. With the knowledge of what buyers are currently looking for, a realtor can help you determine strategies to make your house stand out. Keep in mind, you’re not looking at major remodeling projects, but minor changes to improve the overall appeal of your house.

Get the Best Offer You Can

Discuss with your agent these and other strategies to optimize your selling price. Don’t settle for a lesser offer when you can get more for your home.

The Lippincott Team provides sellers with the in-depth market knowledge and strategies designed for a quick sale at the optimal price. Contact Us for assistance or to learn more about selling your house.

Out of Pocket Expenses When Buying a Home: 5 Costs To Expect

Out of Pocket Expenses When Buying a Home: 5 Costs To Expect


Buying a home is an exciting journey and usually, one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Before jumping into the price tag that catches your eye, expect some out of pocket expenses when buying a home. Knowing some of these common costs up front can help you factor in extra savings for your overall home expenses.

1) Downpayment

This is probably the most common out of pocket expense when buying a home that people expect. Depending on the loan requirements, you could need to put down up to 5% of the sales price. While it’s always a great idea to put as much money down as possible, the idea of a required 20% down payment isn’t necessary. The best starting point is to talk with a mortgage lender who can help you find a program that fits your budget and financial needs.

2) Inspection Fees

While a home inspection is optional, it’s highly recommended and should never be skipped when ready to purchase a new home. An inspection can give you peace of mind knowing about any hidden structural or mechanical issues including building codes and foundation problems. As you can imagine, this is a crucial step before signing your closing documents.

Inspection fees are based on location, the size of the house, and whether additional inspectors are needed for specialized areas such as HVAC, termites, mold, and more. You can expect to pay $200- $600, which is nonrefundable and required upfront.

Although this may seem like a daunting task, you will save yourself hassle, stress, and money in the future from getting this simple inspection done before buying a new home.

3) Moving Supplies

Many people overlook the costs associated with moving before buying a home. Typically, first-time home buyers have fewer items, which means lower moving costs. The expense of moving is calculated by distance and the number of times being transported.

You can keep some of these prices down by using these ideas:

  • Get family and friends to help
  • Pack as many things as possible in your personal vehicle
  • If moving long distance, consider shipping your items. Sometimes shipping can be more cost-effective than hiring a moving truck to drive across the country.  
  • Don’t pay for boxes
  • Throw out junk and purge items you haven’t used in awhile.
  • If using a professional moving company, do your research and compare costs.

4) Maintenance and Repairs

Whether it’s negotiated or necessary, repairs and maintenance are part of owning a home. From changing the locks to replacing appliances, these out of pocket expenses can be costly. If you notice something that needs repairing or an issue arises from the inspection, talk with your Realtor to try negotiating with the seller and get these items fixed as part of the contract.

As other minor maintenance costs pop up, try as many DIY projects as possible. While it may be unthinkable to repair your own kitchen sink, you could take a swing at painting your home interior versus hiring a professional painter.

5) Closing Costs

Often times people get so excited about buying a new home that they forget about necessary closing costs. Factor in 2% – 5% of the home purchase price for things like taxes, attorney fees, loan origination fee, and HOA costs. Before accepting a deal on your dream home, consult with your agent to determine an average cost and breakdown for closing costs and make sure to factor this into your overall budget.

An Agent You Can Trust

Don’t let out of pocket expenses when buying a home catch you off guard. Use these five points to start your budget plan and consult with a trusted Realtor to guide you through additional costs.

The Lippincott Team is an experienced real estate team in the 
Greater Houston area with specialized agents who can help you through the process of buying a new home. Contact us today to get started on making your dream home a reality.

4 Must-Have Contingencies for Your Real Estate Contract

4 Must-Have Contingencies for Your Real Estate Contract

Buying a house is a dance of negotiations, offers, and counteroffers. As a buyer, you want your offer to stand out among all other potential offers. There are several tactics buyers often employ to make their offer more attractive. One such tactic is waiving certain contingencies.  

The Most Crucial Contingencies for Your Real Estate Contract

Contingencies allow you to back out of an offer on certain conditions. They’re there to protect you in case things aren’t as they seem or when certain events occur. While waiving some contingencies can be a strategic move to ensure your offer will be taken, there are other contingencies you really don’t want to remove. The following 4 are the most important contingencies to keep when buying a home.

The Appraisal

The appraisal contingency is the most important one, if for no other reason, because it could potentially save you a lot of money. Once a seller accepts your offer, your lender will order an appraisal. A problem arises, however, when the appraisal comes back lower than your offer price. With an appraisal contingency, you can place certain conditions on the offer in terms of the appraisal. You can stipulate that the appraisal must come within a certain percentage of the sale price. This will allow you to back out of the offer if you feel you’re overpaying.

The Inspection

The inspection contingency protects you against unseen structural and other issues in the home. It allows you to have a licensed inspector to check the property once you sign the purchase agreement. After the inspection, you can negotiate with the seller concerning repairs you want them to make. If no agreement is reached, you can back out of the offer without losing any money.   

The House-Sale

This contingency is important if you’re needing to sell your current home in order to buy the new one. If you’re current home doesn’t sell in the specified time, you can back out of the offer on the new one. While this is crucial when you need the equity in your current home to purchase a new one, it may drive some sellers away.

The Financing

What happens when you make an offer on a house, but the financing falls through? A financing contingency ensures you will get your earnest money back in the case that you can’t get the home loan. You typically will have a certain amount of time to obtain a mortgage, often as many as 14 days. If the financing falls through, you are no longer obligated to buy the house.

Protect Yourself When Buying a House

You want to make sure you’ll get the best price possible for your new home. While waiving some contingencies may give you the edge you need in some cases, those contingencies are there for a reason. They’re for your protection. Make sure these 4 must-have contingencies for your real estate contract are non-negotiable.

Contact Us to learn more about buying a house with The Lippincott Team or for assistance buying a new home.