How to Spruce Up Your Garden Before Selling

In 2020 alone, Americans purchased more than 5.6 million existing homes. Considering the unusual circumstances and rocky start of 2020’s real estate market, the uptick in home sales came as a bit of a surprise. As of mid-2021, we’ve seen a huge surge in home buying across the country, and sellers are enjoying significantly higher sale prices. If you are thinking of selling your home to capitalize on the hot market, it’s a good idea to make some repairs and improvements to get top dollar offers.

For some, that means bringing in professionals for a big renovation. For many others, that means a less-intrusive combination of smaller interior and exterior projects that you can likely handle at least partially by yourself. One of the easiest and best ways to boost your home’s value is landscaping, which increases curb appeal as the first thing prospective buyers see. The best thing is a garden update is relatively cheap, and you can do it yourself with a bit of elbow grease!

So, are you interested in gardening tips and tricks you can use before selling your home? Keep reading for our top picks to get your home’s exterior and landscaping in selling shape.

1. Deep Cleaning

From built-up grime, to dirt and mud, to scruff from kids and pets, your home’s exterior can easily become a mess. Just think: when was the last time you cleaned your exterior walls?

In a pinch, a garden hose with good water pressure will do for knocking dust and grass clippings off walls and pavers.

But if you really want a thorough clean, a power washer is the ticket. The super-pressured stream of water works wonders to peel away the layers of dirt and grime that accumulate over years of use.

Pay special attention to your walkways, since you might spot broken paver stones or cracked bricks that you can then replace.

2. Update Based on Your Environment

One of many benefits to owning a home is that it’s up to you what to grow outside. Many ecologists recommend installing plant species that are native to your region, which helps your landscaping thrive and helps you save on irrigation in dry climates. If you’re moving from the rainy Northwest or East Coast to the arid Southwest, planting the flora that you’re used to seeing may not work out very well.

The best course of action is to update your planters and garden with region-friendly plants, such as common drought-resistant plants for the Southwest. Not only does this ensure that you won’t waste time, money and water, but it also means your home’s exterior will make sense in the context of the local environment.

3. Trim Your Trees and Shrubs

A big one on the list of gardening tips before selling a home, and for home gardening in general, is taking care of trees and shrubs. An unhealthy tree or large plant, with dead or damaged limbs, can drag down your home’s curb appeal and turn off potential buyers.

Beyond that, poorly trimmed shrubs and trees can make the plants unhealthy as they spend extra effort to maintain parts that would be better served pruned.

On the flipside, neatly trimmed trees and shrubs send the message that you’re a conscientious homeowner, which bodes well for the rest of their tour through your home for sale.

4. Ditch the Ornaments

Personal style is all well and good, but it’s not recommended when the time comes to sell your home to someone else. As pleasant as they can be, not everyone loves wind chimes. Certainly not everyone loves garden gnomes or the magic-looking orbs sold at Home Depot and Amazon.

Point is, when you are prepping your home to hit the market, it’s highly recommended that you minimize the decor, especially things that may appeal to only certain tastes. For the best results, you want your listing to appeal to the widest swath of prospective, qualified and likely homebuyers. So, pack up the gnomes until you’ve moved on to your next adventure!

5. Embrace the Mulch

Whether you’re a beginner gardener or a talented green thumb, mulch is your friend. Mulch serves to trap in moisture after you water your plants, it prevents weeds and other things you didn’t ask for from growing, and it makes sections of your landscape look nice and neat wherever plants aren’t growing.

Mulch is cheap, easy to place, and gives your garden a clean and ordered look that will appeal to almost every buyer. Embrace the mulch!

6. Simplify

Some homeowners love a complex garden, filled with numerous assorted plant species that often require tender, individualized care. Trouble is, not everyone knows how to take care of plants, or wants to learn for that matter.

Now, if your garden is already beautiful and well-kept, there’s no need to make big changes before listing your home for sale. But if you are planning to spend money to refresh your home’s exterior before hitting the market, it’s a good idea not to go too wild. Keep it simple enough for buyers of all kinds — gardening-inclined and otherwise — to feel comfortable with the space.

If you know you’ll sell this year, work on a simplified garden plan that reduces the total plant species to a less imposing number. If possible, use plants that come with similar care requirements. You can use that as a selling point when it’s time to list, as it means a lot less work for the future owner.

7. Good Fences Makes for Happy Buyers

Fences aren’t technically part of your garden, but as a visual backdrop they are a key piece of the exterior puzzle, like a frame for a painting or photograph. Much like a shoddy, beat-up frame will detract from even the most elegant image, a rough fence will distract from the garden.

Before you get serious about selling your house, give the fences some attention. If possible, give them a fresh coat of paint or stain, and consider making repairs if sections of your fence are in worse shape.

8. De-Kid the Garden Area

This one depends on your community and potential buyer pool. If your home is located in a hot area of town where buyers may be younger and enticed by walking distance to nightlife and bars, then your potential buyer pool may be less enticed by a swing set or other play equipment on the lawn. Since you’re moving anyways, consider packing up the play set and moving it to temporary storage along with your other non-essential items.

If your home is in an area that appeals to young families, then the reverse is true. You can even consider making a play set optionally included in the sale, if you’d rather not break it down and move it with you.

9. Tidy Up

With landscaping, trees and shrubbery comes leaves, leaves and more leaves. Depending on the season, you may have more or less detritus littering your landscape, but inevitably there’s some on the ground at any time of year.

Before you start to host showings at your listing, head outside with a rake and tidy up all the plant refuse in your yard, plus any tools or unsightly items left over from landscaping, painting, etc. Just like the inside of your home, the outside should look neat and cared for before buyers have a look.

Gardening Tips and Tricks for Selling Your Home

Preparing your home for sale can be a big undertaking, but only getting your interior shape is not enough. Your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers will see, and there is added emphasis these days on outdoor living space. That’s why we compiled these gardening tips to help your home attract more interest and sell for the highest possible price.

At the Stavros Group, we’ve helped countless Orange County homeowners to sell for top dollar, and we have a broad professional network of trusted vendors who we utilize to take the heavy listing of home prep off your hands. It’s all part of our proven plan to help sell your Laguna Beach, Orange County or Newport Beach home without leaving money on the table. If you are considering selling your home, get in touch to start the no-pressure conversation and discuss your options.

10 Ways to Stage Your Home for the Feng Shui Buyer

In any real estate market, Orange County included, selling a home quickly and effectively comes down to two things. First, the home must be priced to sell. Second, the home must motivate buyers to submit an offer.

Pricing your home largely comes down to a comparison of other recently sold listings in the area. Sites like Zillow even provide an estimation of value with just a simple search. Of course, the best Orange County listing agents will consider many additional layers of strategy on top of that ballpark market analysis. They might even net you an extra 5 or 10 or 15% (a great achievement), but in most cases the estimated range is still within the same ballpark.

The second factor, motivating buyers, is less clear-cut. How do you maximize your home’s appeal? How do you cater to the type of buyers who are actively looking in your neighborhood? Who are they, anyways, and what do they like? Add to this the unfortunate fact that not everyone has a designer’s touch.

Well, that’s where we come in. At the Stavros Group, we have decades of experience in preparing and staging homes to squeeze out every possible penny from your transaction. We work with expert design professionals to handle all the logistics and minimize your stress throughout the process.

Today, we’re diving into some concepts that we consider when preparing a Orange County home for sale. In particular, these 10 basic staging tips reflect the Feng Shui principles that so many home buyers enjoy. Read on for 10 Feng Shui home staging tips!

1. Declutter or Move Out Entirely

One of the most important things you can do before staging your home is significantly decluttering and minimizing your possessions. If possible, we highly recommend moving out of the house. The less your presence is felt in the house, the easier it will be for prospective buyers to picture themselves living there. Not to mention it makes showings easier, with less involvement required from you, the seller.

If you can’t move out yet, we recommend renting a storage unit to store your things until you are able to move it into your new residence. One of the most essential Feng Shui tips to sell a house is to “depersonalize it.” Remove things like personal photos, certifications, awards, niche decor like religious or sports-related items, eccentric colors, and so on.

Neutralize your home for maximum appeal. That’s Feng Shui, and it’s good practice for real estate.

2. Take Care of Any Aesthetic Repairs and Updates

Next, you should plan to invest a little money in perfecting your home’s aesthetics. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about complete renovations, just small things that make a big difference. 

For example, replace old cabinet hardware like drawer pulls and handles for a more modern look. You can also update light fixtures, doorknobs, and anything else that makes the home feel out-of-date. 

Finally, make sure you take care of any superficial repairs, such as damaged trim, drywall, doors, weatherstripping, etc. The future buyer will know they’re in a home that’s cared-for and move-in ready. 

3. Thoroughly Clean the House

The Feng Shui-minded buyer will be completely turned off if they walk into a dirty home. Wouldn’t you be too? So, after the decluttering process and updates are complete, make sure to spend adequate time and elbow grease and give your house a thorough, deep cleaning. 

If you don’t have the time or abilities it takes to really dig in and do the job right, it’s very worthwhile to invest in a professional cleaning service. An ultra-clean home conveys a message of care, which buyers may presume extends to the rest of your tenure as homeowner. People want a home that has been well maintained, and bad smells or sights are a telltale sign of poor maintenance. Don’t let a simple lack of cleanliness scuttle your home sale!

4. Consider Hiring a Professional Home Stager

The numbers don’t lie. Staged homes sell as much as 87% faster than non-staged homes. Yes, it costs some extra cash, but it pays to present a beautiful, manicured space to prospective buyers.

To properly stage a home, it takes a designer’s eye and quality decor. If you have old, beat-up furniture, for example, staging your home won’t have the desired effect. You may love your old chair with well-worn indentations that perfectly conform to your shape, but that’s not doing anything for prospective buyers. Rule #1 of preparing a home for sale is putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

If you do have newer furniture and an keen eye for interior design, you may be able to save some dough and DIY the project. But for most folks, it’s often best to move out your things and let a professional home stager have their run of the place. Experience is key, and a full-time professional stager knows just how to appeal to the broadest range of buyers.

5. Perfect Your Curb Appeal

Whether it’s love at first sight or something less nice, first impressions matter. When a potential buyer pulls up to your home, their first impression is influenced by your home’s curb appeal, or what your home looks like from the street. Remember, the principles of good design and Feng Shui are just as important for your home’s exterior as the interior!

When they pull up to your home, buyers get the experience of coming home from work or activities, greeted by the view of your home’s facade and exterior space. What they see on the outside will inevitably color the way they see the rest, even in subtle and subconscious ways.

So, if your home’s exterior paint is fading or peeling, it’s time to add a new coat. If your yard is overgrown, it’s time for some yard care. Do everything you can to make the exterior of your home as inviting as possible. These simple cosmetic improvements are well worth the investment.

6. A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the easiest steps in the home selling preparation process that will definitely boost your Feng Shui. First, a fresh coat of paint makes everything feel nicer, newer, crisp and clean. Take advantage of this relatively easy and inexpensive project to increase your home’s aesthetics.

With a steady hand, you can do it yourself. However, a professional painter will likely get more uniform results, and big spaces can take a good bit of time and effort. Consider whether you’d prefer to save time or money when making your decision.

When choosing your paint, it’s critical to keep the color tones neutral to appeal to a wider audience of buyers. Replace any vibrant or loud colors that don’t hold mass appeal (even if you love them, it’s about your target buyers!). Make sure you touch up painted trim pieces as well to make them pop.

7. Keep Things Open

One of the most important Feng Shui tips to stage your home is to make it feel open and spacious. Prospective buyers want to feel the flow of the house from one room to the next. Don’t set up furniture in a cluttered fashion, such that it blocks pathways or cuts off this essential flow through the space. 

Additionally, don’t back furniture all the way up against the walls. Though it may seem like it adds more space, having the furniture at least one foot off the wall will make the room feel more open and inviting. There’s no need to maximize an unnatural dead space in the middle of the room.

8. Incorporate Houseplants

One of the best things you can do when staging your home is fill it with lively green plantlife. The presence of indoor plants has been shown to make people feel better. Not only do plants aesthetically liven up a room, but they’ve also been linked to better focus, productivity, and moods.

9. Maximize Natural Light

Next, remember that lighting is ever-important. A dim or dark room feels closed-off, cold, and somewhat depressing. Therefore, to stage your home for maximum buyer interest, ensure that every area of your home has adequate lighting. 

We recommend letting in as much natural light as possible from your windows and any glass doors. In rooms with limited natural light, try bright, warm light bulbs to liven up the vibe. If a room’s overhead lighting is poor, you can always use lamps to make up the difference. 

10. Create an Amazing Buyer Experience

Finally, learning how to stage your home means assuming a buyer’s perspective for all their senses. As a buyer walks through your home, they aren’t just looking at it — they’re also smelling, touching and hearing.

Hopefully by now, you’ve cleaned up any odor-producing waste or spills as described in step three. This means making sure there are no pet smells or any other unpleasant odors lingering around. Many home sellers light a candle or bake cookies to enhance the homey feeling, but not everyone likes the same scents, so don’t go overboard.

To further stimulate the senses, soft music can be played in the background: jazz, classical, or other unintrusive styles are best.

Want More Advice on How to Sell and Stage Your Home?

Are you looking to sell your Orange County home?  If so, it’s helpful to know what to expect and how to maximize your investment. Even moreso, it also helps if you have the best real estate listing agent in Orange County. At the Stavros Group, we are expert marketers with a proven track record of preparing OC real estate to net the best return.

Visit our seller’s page to start the no-pressure conversation and tell us more about your situation. We can help expertly price your home and work with you throughout the entire home selling process. Questions about Orange County real estate? Contact us today and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

How Will Prop 22 Affect the California Real Estate Market?

When most people analyze the real estate market in a given area, they only look at the obvious factors. They consider home values, local schools and amenities, property taxes and so on. The reality is, however, that even minor societal or economic changes can be like stones falling in the pond of a community, sending their ripples through the real estate market and beyond.

One of those stones is Proposition 22 or Prop 22 for short. While the legislation itself has been widely discussed throughout California and the US, its impact on California real estate has not.

What Is Prop 22?

Proposition 22 is a California proposition that was passed by the state voters in 2020. It is the latest in a tug of war among the state’s leadership to decide how to handle the growing gig economy, especially as it pertains to freelance drivers for gig-based apps like Uber and Lyft.

In 2019, California passed Assembly Bill 5, or AB5. AB5 stated that all freelancers or independent contractors who performed more than a minimal amount of work for a company must be classified as employees.

This was meant to address the concern that companies take advantage of workers. Businesses label workers as contractors rather than employees, to avoid giving them benefits like health insurance, paid leave, and unemployment insurance.

However, the true effect this had in many cases was an inability for freelance workers to do their work and earn an income. Prop 22 is a compromise of sorts.

Prop 22 exempts app-based drivers, like rideshare and delivery drivers, from the AB5 employee classification. In exchange, it gives them other protections like minimum pay guarantees, health insurance in some circumstances, and compensation for on-the-job injuries.

How Will Prop 22 Impact the California Real Estate Market?

Proposition 22 has had a positive reception overall, as it offers some benefits for both contract drivers and their client companies. There are several ways it’s likely to impact the real estate market in the process.

Increased State Income Taxes

With the Prop 22 exemption, there are increased opportunities for contract drivers now that companies can “hire” more of them. This will lead to an overall increase in income because more people are making money this way. Because those drivers will pay state income taxes on the new income, the overall amount of income tax in California is expected to increase.

Analysts also expect that rideshare and delivery companies who hire these drivers will see stock price increases. When their investors sell those stocks, they will pay income taxes on the profits. This further adds to the increase in state income taxes.

This could affect real estate depending on how the state decides to spend that money. For instance, if the state invests the added tax revenue in new developments, real estate prices in that area will increase. Or real estate prices could decrease if the state unveils a new (and sorely needed) affordable housing program.

More Demand for Real Estate

While AB5 was meant to help gig workers, it sent a wave of fear through many in the freelance community. Many felt that they were overlooked or miscategorized in a way that would prevent them from continuing to operate as their own business. As a result, some either considered leaving or did leave California.

Because 36% of the US workforce does some amount of freelancing, we’re talking about significant numbers here. For many app-based drivers, Prop 22 puts them in a better position in California than they would be elsewhere. Not only can they keep operating independently, but they also get benefits they wouldn’t receive in other states.

The result is a higher population of earning adults, and that means a higher demand for real estate.

Shifts in the Landscape of Mortgages

Independent contractors aren’t only different from employees in the benefits they receive. Their income predictability is very different as well, and this affects their ability to receive mortgages.

Historically, contractors have had a more difficult time securing mortgages. Because their income is more varied, they need to provide long-term proof of income to qualify.

Now that we expect to see an increase in freelancing in California, this could go one of two ways. We could see a higher demand for rental properties because fewer people may be able to qualify for mortgages.

On the other hand, the number of contractors and freelancers in the US is expected to continue increasing overall. It is possible that we’ll see changes within the mortgage industry that accommodate this growing population of solopreneurs. 

More Overall Income

It’s important to note that the gig economy is not entirely made up of people who traded their 9-to-5 salaried job for independent contracting. In fact, many app-based drivers use driving to supplement their existing income.

Now that app-based gig work is a more available and an increasingly appealing option, we expect to see even more people taking advantage of it. This could lead to a higher average income in California.

For the real estate market, this would create a shift toward higher-priced properties. More people would have the income to afford these pricier homes, so the demand would increase.

Fewer Foreclosures and Short Sales

We’ve talked about people who use app-based driving as their primary income source and people who use it to supplement their income. There’s another common situation, though.

When people lose their jobs due to downsizing or other reasons, gig work can fill in the gaps. It’s fairly easy for most people to get work from app-based driving services, because the need is so high. They may not earn the same amount they did previously, but at least they have some income while they hunt for a new, more permanent job.

Now that this on-demand earning potential is so accessible, fewer people may find themselves without the income to pay their mortgages. The result, barring other factors, is fewer foreclosures and short sales on the real estate market.

Looking Ahead Thanks to Prop 22

The real estate market is always complicated, with countless factors coming into play. Prop 22 is only one of many. Fortunately, you don’t need to figure it all out on your own.

Contact our real estate team to discuss your options for buying or selling your home and the market circumstances you need to know.

How to Boost Your Listing’s Winter Curb Appeal

Though the weather outside is frightful, selling your home in the winter actually isn’t so bad! The real estate market in winter months — particularly in December and January — is typically a scaled-down version of the rest of the year. Buyers and sellers with time to spare tend to put their real estate plans on hold for the holidays. With fewer properties on the market and fewer buyers house-hunting during these times, your listing is more likely to stand out and become a prime target for the buyers who are actively looking.

So, while there is plenty of opportunity to buy or sell in the spring, summer and fall, you’re not out of luck in the winter! The real question is: how do you keep your home looking great during gloomy, rainy, or even snowy weather?

The trick is to increase your curb appeal, and it’s easier than you think! Keep on reading for our must-know tips to improve your winter curb appeal. 

Remove Clutter

The easiest and most cost-efficient way to improve your winter curb appeal is to tidy up and declutter your yard. Even the neatest of homes on the inside can quickly accumulate leaves, debris, junk and other items outside that might turn off potential buyers. As a home seller, you want buyers to have a great impression of your home as soon as they arrive, so curb appeal is critical!

Any items that are looking weathered, such as children’s play items, outdoor seating, or exterior features like an old, busted fountain should be thrown out or put in storage. If the items can’t be removed, or if you don’t have the necessary storage space, then you should still spruce them up as best you can.

Any wooden areas, such as decking, may require new treatments. Replace broken panels, sand the area, and treat it with wood stain. For best results, take a look at your exterior before winter weather kicks in. Repairs are easier when it’s nicer outside, and you definitely don’t want to trap moisture in your wood. 

Finally, clear your yard of natural debris and detritus. Rake those pesky autumn leaves into a large pile, cut off any dead branches hanging from trees on your property, and remove unsightly plants that have overstayed their welcome. Tidying up your yard goes a long way to boost that ever-important curb appeal. 

Give Them a Warm Welcome

Now that your yard is neat and tidy, have a look at your front entryway. Does it beckon potential buyers to come inside and explore your home?

One way to make your home more inviting is to spruce up your front door. If your current door is looking weathered or displays a drab color of paint, consider restoring it with a vibrant color like a rich red or green. It will look fresh and welcoming, and add to the appeal of your home’s facade.

You can also enhance your entryway by adding some new fittings. Install a charming door knocker, or if “‘tis the season,” decorate the door with some holiday cheer. This will inspire buyers with the look of a warm, family home. Keep in mind that you want your home to appeal to any and every potential buyer, so overly religious or otherwise personal motifs should be avoided. But a nice, wintery wreath will be loved by all but the Grinch-iest visitors!

Switch Out the Mailbox and Signage

When it comes to curb appeal, the devil is in the details. Unlike inside of your home, where staging and fresh paint can express elegant style throughout your floor plan and walls, exterior fixtures and fittings are not so abundant. The easiest and cheapest exterior fixtures to improve are your mailbox and signage. 

When you replace your mailbox, select one that complements the architectural style of your home. If you have a grand colonial setting, then go for something that fits with it. If you have a sleek, modern home built from glass and concrete, pick something that supplements that style. These little details add to an overall tapestry that buyers experience when they visit your property.

Additionally, if you repainted your front door like we suggested above, try and match the mailbox to the color of your front door. Pick bright and cheerful shades to add color that might otherwise be lacking due to the season.

Signage on your home’s exterior is another opportunity to add some flavor. You can update your street numbers, whether they’re on your mailbox or on your home’s facade. An embossed plate can also add a cute message, like “Welcome Home.” Whatever you choose, pick something unique that complements the theme of your home. These will be the first features that buyers see from the street, and first impressions count!

Add Some Evening Lighting

Lighting a home’s exterior is easy, but really doing it well requires some talent and tact. Too much evening lighting can make your house look brash and cause the facade to have a spaceship-like glow. (And it probably won’t make the neighbors very happy!) On the other hand, tasteful evening lights can accentuate your home’s best features and make it look beautiful for more hours of the day. 

Exterior lighting can be placed on your exterior walls, amidst your landscaping, or on features like your mailbox. Lanterns and sconces add a warm touch, and they’re extra helpful if you have a long, dark driveway. If you go that route, metal lanterns will be more durable than other materials which may weather easily. With the right paint, you can even tailor your new lights to match your siding, front door, and mailbox. 

Go Evergreen With Your Curb Appeal

Not all plants wither and die in winter weather. In fact, there are a number of evergreen plants and foliage options that stay green all year round. Some plants even thrive in winter conditions. 

Placing these hearty plants in your garden will give it a lush, well-kept appearance. Find some plants that flower in winter and place them in pots, so you can leave them outside to greet buyers with a touch of color. If you have extra space in your yard, you can even plant some winter-friendly trees. 

Make Paths and Driveways Clear

In addition to clearing the yard, make sure that your driveway and walking paths look clean and pristine. These are the sections that will draw the eye up to the property — particularly if they are cracked or marred. If your hardscape is cluttered, messy, or damaged, it will leave a bad impression before buyers even step foot into your home.

To get your hardscape in shape, clear any dirt and foliage that has found its way onto your driveway and paths. If you need to trim back live foliage, have at it! The walkway must be clear for all to see, and it makes your home more accessible too. Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re trekking through the outback as they make their way to your front door. 

After a good cleaning, repair any damage to paths and drives. This may involve calling in a professional for repair or replacement. It can be hard and heavy work. Additionally, if any weeds or plants are making walkways unsightly, trim them back or take them out entirely. 

Get Help from the Real Estate Experts 

Once you have increased your curb appeal with these handy tips, you just need to get the buyers visiting your home! The best way to do this is with the help of an expert real estate agent who understands your neighborhood and local real estate market. 

If you are buying or selling real estate in Orange County, then Stavros Group are your trusted advisers. We specialize in residential and investment properties in Orange County, and we bring a wealth of experience to all of our work. Contact us today to start the no-pressure conversation, and let’s talk strategy!

How to Increase Your Home Value With a Remodel That You Still Love

Homeownership is one of the fastest, safest ways to develop wealth in the United States. In almost every case, over a long enough time, your home will accrue additional value. Homeownership is a great investment — particularly since you need somewhere to live anyways!

On top of normal market appreciation, you can also increase your home’s value through remodeling, renovation, upgrades and repairs. But if you spend many thousands of dollars on home improvements to make everything modern and chic, will you still feel like it’s your own safe haven?

A house has many non-monetary benefits that you can consciously grow as you make updates and improvements. The challenge is to add to the value of your house without sterilizing it and stripping it of its homey feel.

In this article, we’ll explore a few ways for you to strike the perfect balance between trendy and comfy. We hope this will help you to boost your home’s value while maintaining what you already love about it. 

Read on to learn how thoughtful and strategic renovations can increase your home value!

Increase Your Home Value Without Losing Its Personality

It seems strange that making improvements to your home could make the home less comfortable to live in. You’d think that any improvement would automatically make things a little more comfortable. 

That said, whatever it is that makes a house a home can get lost in that storm of drywall, hammers, hardware and contractors. 

The first thing to do before you start renovations is take an account of what you think gives your house its unique quality. What do you love about your house? What could you do without?

What Makes Your House Home?

Look around your home and ask yourself what parts make you happy. Do the creaky floorboards really add to the ambience? Does the rattle of your screen door help to welcome you home?

How about the knobs on the kitchen cabinets? Surely those can go, right?

A collection of small things, the little details, are what give a home it’s personality. Those details are often found throughout the house. Bad floorboards in one room may foretell flooring problems elsewhere.

Once you’ve figured out what it is that you like, ask yourself what you’d be willing to change. There are bound to be some sore spots around the house, maybe some that have bothered you since day-one. Those issues would probably bother a potential buyer down the line, so they are a great opportunity to start thinking about possibilities for improvement. 

Before you call up a contractor, take an inventory of what you like and dislike about your home. Certain repairs and upgrades add more value than others: kitchens, bathrooms and flooring, in particular, tend to recoup the most investment when it comes time to sell. You might find that fixing those creaky floorboards could add thousands of dollars to your sale price. 

Renovate to Complement the Existing Home

It’s all too easy to select new features for your home without considering how they’ll fit into the grand scheme of things. 

You might see a nice bathroom fixture in a magazine and start imagining it in your own. The same could be said for just about anything that gets advertised and glamorized. 

This is where we lose hominess: When you force an expensive addition into a home where it doesn’t fit, and the entire vibe is thrown off. Renovations can improve the enjoyment you get from your home, if they’re chosen correctly, or they can easily also be a misguided and expensive effort.

A lot of these decisions are up to you and your personal taste. It’s always a good idea to choose new features that match with your existing color schemes, with beloved pieces of furniture, or just fit your idea of what the home needs.

The idea is to build upon what is already there, rather than tear down and restart. Small changes are easier, faster and cheaper. Start there!

Make Changes Close to Closing Time

Some of the things you love about your home might not fare well on the market. Deferred maintenance and upgrades might still be worth making before you sell, even if you won’t be around to enjoy them yourself. 

As veteran real estate agents, we know what buyers are looking for (and paying for!). Certain styles and finishes get more money for sellers, that’s just the way it is. If you are thinking of selling your home any time soon, we are happy to consult with you on the best strategic improvements that will appeal to the broadest swath of homebuyers.

Selling your home is a huge step, and it’s a very personal process. Whether you invest in upgrades before you sell or leave things as-is, the important thing is that you take with you the memories of your life in your home, the times you cherished with the people you love. That will never change, whether your walls are white or grey or lime green. (We don’t recommend lime green.)

Money-Making Remodels to Consider

When it comes time to make renovation decisions, take the following suggestions as food for thought. 

Right off the bat, consider a prospective buyer’s first impression of your home.

Think of the appearance of your yard, the cleanliness of your home, arrangements, space, and lighting. Altogether, this makes a world of difference. 

Another piece that gets overlooked is the garage. We often let the garage get tattered and old as we focus on more significant projects in the home. Make sure to get around to it, though. 

A new garage door and a clean paint job could add thousands to your home’s value. Additionally, you should consider finishing your basement if your home has one and it’s unfinished. 

Many homebuyers want a home with bonus finished space like an attic or basement or den. It adds to the living space of your home, and finished areas improve what could otherwise be considered unsightly. 

If your house is fully finished, it will be more appealing to buyers, and to appraisers later on.

Are You Ready to Start Making Changes?

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, start thinking about the problem areas that might benefit from some updating! There are many steps to the selling process, so the sooner you have a plan, the better.

Explore our site for more resources on selling, improving, and buying homes, and of course feel free to get in touch any time and start a no-pressure conversation to discuss your options!

In a Rush? 8 Tips to Sell Your Orange Coast House Faster

Sell Orange Coast Home Fast

 

To sell your Orange Coast home fast demands intelligent, informed strategy and precise execution. There are many reasons why a Newport Beach, Laguna Beach or Corona Del Mar homeowner may want or need to sell, but unfortunately not all come with the luxury of time. Maybe you are relocating for work. Maybe a death or divorce in the family has forced an abrupt decision. Maybe you need funds for a new home build, or maybe your financial situation has changed and you can no longer afford your current home. In any case, you must make the most of the time you have to make your sale successful.

 

If you’re in less of a rush to sell your Orange Coast home, don’t click away just yet! Our tips for quickly selling Orange County real estate are still important for you to follow. After all, what seller wouldn’t want to both maximize their sale price and minimize their days on market? While the stakes may be higher if you’re crunched for time, it always pays to do things right. So, whether you have two weeks or two years to sell, read on for our top recommendations for a speedy and lucrative sale.

 

1. Don’t Overprice

We’re not the sorts who beat around the bush, so let’s get the big one out of the way: By far, the most important factor that can determine the speed of your sale is how much you’re willing to take for it. You’ve heard a home’s value is all about “Location, Location, Location!” But when it comes to closing a sale, it’s really “Price, Price, Price!”

 

As we covered in our article on the dangers of overpricing, pricing your home too high can have disastrous effects. An overpriced listing garners less interest from the very buyers who might otherwise make an offer. After languishing on the market, you may elect to make a price reduction; but a home priced right the first time is on stronger grounds to negotiate with buyers later. On the reverse, pricing your new listing at or below market value will lead to more buyer interest, busy showings, better offers, and a faster sale.

 

Some distressed homeowners opt for the extreme. House flippers and “We Buy!” street signs have long lured sellers with the promise of a cash offer and a quick closing. Without the necessary time or support to prep their homes for market, a seller might acquiesce and take the low-hanging fruit. It’s a sad tale, given that there is almost always a better option! Working with an experienced Orange Coast real estate agent can help you get a better offer, without having to deal with lowballing or scams.

 

So it’s abundantly clear (maybe even painfully obvious) that a lower-priced home sells faster. That’s just how selling things works, right? Then, what are some concrete steps a seller can take to increase both the price and expedience of their sale?

 

2. Look Superb From the Curb

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t hold as true when selling Orange Coast real estate. The proverbial “cover” of your home is its curb appeal, and it leaves a strong and lasting impression. Make it a good one, and you’ll sell faster and for more money.

 

Boosting your curb appeal has the valuable effect of enticing buyers inside to explore your home. If your exterior looks old and dreary, a fresh coat of paint and revitalized landscaping can make a stark and immediate difference. For a relatively low price compared to large-scale renovations, exterior updates will spark interest in prospective buyers and passers-by. You won’t sell fast if no one wants to come inside to see more! Don’t hamstring your sale from the outset with an unappealing facade.

 

3. Make it Pretty and Presentable

When you’re getting ready to list your home, try to view it through a buyer’s eyes. Is it warm and inviting, or cold and cluttered? Your goal should be to create an attractive space in which buyers can blissfully envision their future selves. We recommend and help our clients to use a professional staging service to get their home in selling shape. If for some reason that doesn’t work for you, though, there are still some things to keep in mind.

 

Before you hit the market, make sure your home is clean, decluttered, and depersonalized. It may be obvious to clean up your trash and dirty dishes, but what about your Tom Brady bobbleheads? Certain items like sports memorabilia, religious decor or political knick knacks should be packed away. Make your home appeal to the broadest possible segment of buyers, not just those who share your tastes and views. That extends to paint colors and other decor, too. Neutral color schemes in a clean and tidy space will make your home more appealing to more buyers.

 

4. Show the World!

You’ve cleaned and painted and prepped. Now it’s time to show it off! As soon as your listing is live, buyers who are looking for a home like yours will be notified through platforms like the MLS and Zillow. Their eyes will be drawn to your photo gallery first, so it’s important to have quality images.

 

Even if you’re something of an aspiring Ansel Adams yourself, it’s still a good idea to use professional photography services to sell your Orange Coast home. Yes, your smartphone can take some decent photos. No, they’re probably not as good as they could or should be. After pouring your time and effort into prepping your home for sale, why stop there? Hiring an experienced real estate photographer will ensure that your home is shown to the world in its best light (literally and figuratively).

 

5. Show Often and Get Feedback

Now that you’re on the market, it’s important to make your home available for agents and prospective buyers. Showings are easier if you’re not still living in the home, but your situation may not allow for that. Either way, your home should remain in a show-ready state at all times. Keep things tidy and personal items out of view. If you’ve already moved out, then your agent might set up a lockbox system to let agents show the home any time.

 

After a showing, make sure to get feedback from the buyer’s agent. Whether good or bad, it’s incredibly valuable to hear what their clients thought of your listing. Some agents may reach out on their own, but it also never hurts to ask those who do not. Armed with buyer and agent feedback, you can make the right adjustments to make your listing more appealing to the next group of visitors.

 

6. Set an Offer Deadline

If you’re in a rush to sell, then setting a deadline for incoming purchase offers will show buyers that you mean business. Make it clear in your listing that you will only accept offers until a specific date. You don’t need to specify exactly why that date has been set or even that you’re trying to sell quickly. Just set the date and let the offers roll in!

 

7. Get a Bridge Loan

Even if you feel you must sell immediately, there’s a secret weapon that can completely change your timeline: a bridge loan! A bridge loan is a short-term loan that leverages the equity from your current home to provide the funds you need to make an offer on a new one. With a bridge loan, you can move where you want and when you want to, but wait to sell your current home until the time is right.

 

Instead of scrambling to sell on short notice, a bridge loan gives you the breathing room to make well-informed and strategic decisions. Forced to relocate for work during the holidays? A bridge loan means you can wait to sell during the busy spring season when more buyers are browsing the market. Whatever your reasons for selling quickly, a bridge loan can change the whole equation and and alleviate the pressure on your schedule.

 

8. Choose Your Agent Wisely

Whether you’re in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar or elsewhere on the Orange Coast, selling your home can seem overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone! By hiring an experienced and trustworthy Orange Coast real estate agent, you’ll get the guidance and support you need to maximize your sale. At the Stavros Group, we have years of experience working in your neighborhood. We know the market, and we are well-regarded by our peers. We leverage our extensive professional network to find you the best deal possible on a timeline that meets your needs.

 

From setting a price to coordinating improvements and staging, we will be your trusted advisor and make sense of the process. If you’re thinking of selling your Orange Coast home, don’t hesitate to reach out and start the no-pressure conversation. We’ll discuss your options and present a detailed strategy to optimize the sale of your Orange Coast home.

The Dangers of Overpricing Your Orange County Home

Overpricing your home leaves your listing high and dry.

 

Whether you’re in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, or elsewhere, the dangers of overpricing your home are the same: It just won’t sell. Simple enough, no? Well, if you’re still curious, then read on to explore the reasons that pricing your home too high for the coastal Orange County market is perhaps the worst thing you can do when trying to sell.

 


 

Say you love the old tile smattered over your split-level floor plan. You feel the pool you installed for six figures was an excellent investment. Your afternoon naps simply wouldn’t be the same without those blaring trains. You love everything about your home, so it must be worth a little extra, right? Not necessarily.

 

An all-too common mistake by those selling a home in coastal Orange County (and literally everywhere else) is that they overvalue their property. Maybe they want to recoup their investment on costly improvements. Maybe their personal taste doesn’t match with market trends. Maybe they did some misguided research, or maybe they’re just going with their gut. Whatever the reason for an unrealistic sense of their home’s value, they can all be deadly to a listing’s chances.

 

Inevitably, a portion of sellers will heed poor advice from agents who will say anything to sign a listing. Others may scorn the advice of a good agent. But what really happens when a home is overpriced?

 

More is Less

Ironically, if your listing is overpriced, it’s more likely to sell for less than if you had priced correctly at the outset. Buyers are often reluctant to offer a “lowball” price to an overpriced listing, for fear of wasting their own time or possibly offending the sellers. Sure, some bold buyers might decide (or be convinced by their agent) to bid low, but many more of them won’t even bother.

 

When a listing is priced too high, buyers will move on to spend their time and energy on the reasonably priced listings in the area. They don’t want to waste their effort. That leads to decreased competition for the overpriced listing, and in the end a lower sales price. Good agents can spot an overpriced listing from a mile away. When they spot one, they will know that their clients needn’t worry about getting stuck in a bidding war. A seller who has overpriced should expect to see lower bids and fewer of them.

 

Losing Steam

Your first days and weeks on the market are the most crucial. When your listing goes live on the MLS, it triggers a cascade of events meant to help drum up interest in your property. Notifications are sent to buyers and agents through automated MLS alerts and search websites like Zillow, when a home that meets their criteria hits the market. If your listing is overpriced, those alerts won’t get a second look. In fact, if your pricing is way off, those alerts won’t even go to the “right” subset of buyers at all. Either way, you’ve wasted an opportunity.

 

As soon as your listing goes live, open houses and broker tours will populate on search sites, and your agent’s marketing plan should be in full swing. Snail mail, email, social media, agent networkingeverything is full-speed ahead to supercharge your entry into the market. But, if you’ve priced too high, then you’ve stymied that effort from the get-go. Overpricing is an exercise in self-sabotage.

 

Going Stale

Once the initial marketing period is over, an overpriced listing will continue to linger on the market. And linger. And linger. And linger… you get the point. “Going stale,” in industry lingo, means being confronted with two options. First, you can simply wait. Perhaps you have the time to wait for conditions to improve. You’re not in a rush, and at the very least inflation will catch up to your unrealistic expectations eventually, right? Some sellers choose to pull their home off the market, but many don’t have that kind of time to spare, or they don’t want to live in listing limbo.

 

Your second option is a price drop. Sometimes, a price drop is a perfectly reasonable course of action; if it’s spurred because of a shift in market conditions, then you’re at least somewhat insulated by the fact that everyone else is floating in the same ebbing tide. However, if you must drop your price due to your own initial mistake, then you’ll turn into easy prey. Much like the lion that hunts the sickly gazelle, buyers will identify your listing as fundamentally weak. Offers will come in low, and buyers who see multiple price drops will just wait around for the next one.

 

Hitting the Sweet Spot

The dangers of overpricing highlight the importance of finding an agent who you trust. You deserve a real and honest discussion. At the Stavros Group, we apply our experience in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar and beyond to fit your needs, and we offer guidance based on the realities of the market—good or bad, up or down. We are your trusted advisor in selling or buying a home in coastal Orange County. If you’re considering making a change, reach out to start the no pressure conversation and we’ll discuss all your options.

No Green Thumb? No Problem: 7 Easy Houseplants to Liven Your Living Space

If you’re buying Newport Beach real estate, staging your Laguna Beach home to sell, or if gloomy fall weather starts getting you down, then you could stand to benefit from some bright and lively houseplants!

 

Houseplant History

For thousands of years, people have been bringing a little piece of the outdoors into their homes. According to the legend, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon commissioned the fabled Hanging Gardens for his wife, Queen Amytis, way back in 600 BC. The Greek scribe Berossus noted that the queen was not native to Babylon, so the Hanging Gardens were filled with familiar foliage to help her feel at home in a foreign land.

 

Historical findings have also documented houseplants in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and among eastern civilizations. Roses and violets in marble or terracotta pots could be seen bestrewn about the homes of wealthy Roman citizens, eager to display the tallest and brightest flowers. Miniature potted plants such as the Japanese Bonsai and Chinese Penjing first appeared around 200-500 CE.

 

Throughout the Middle Ages after the fall of Rome, houseplants largely fell out of practice, surviving mainly in monasteries by monks who grew practical plants like herbs and vegetables. When the Renaissance came around, interest in houseplants was revitalized, and wealthy individuals paid handsomely for exotic specimens procured by explorers such as Christopher Columbus. Suffice it to say that humanity has long known the value of the humble houseplant!

 

Green Living

Aside from simply looking nice, houseplants have some great additional benefits. First and foremost, plants purify the air around us. The hungry buggers gobble up our exhaled carbon dioxide, and they release fresh and clean oxygen for us to breathe in—all at the low cost of a little water and sunshine. Plants also clean volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in our homes, although at such a small scale that it doesn’t make much difference.

 

Additionally, houseplants have shown various health benefits in clinical trials. In one example from the Department of Horticulture, researchers found that hospital patients recovering from surgery in the presence of houseplants had lower blood pressure and less anxiety, pain and fatigue. Patients reported that the plants “brightened up the room environment, reduced stress, and also conveyed positive impressions of hospital employees caring for patients.”

 

These effects can be realized in the home or workplace by adding plants of your own! If you have a home office or even occasionally work from home, consider adding a plant or two in view. A study by researchers at Washington State University found that workers with a potted plant in their line of sight saw increases in productivity of up to twelve percent.

 

Houseplants Made Simple

You may be interested in houseplants to liven up your home’s decor or to reap the health and other benefits covered above. If you’re new to taking care of plants, however, you’re likely wary of making a purchase just to see it die in the weeks or months that follow. But fear not, as there are plenty of options for those less floriculturally-inclined.

 

Here are just a few plants that DON’T require a green thumb to keep alive and well:

 

Aloe Vera

This hardy succulent only needs to be watered every couple of weeks. Allow soil to dry completely between waterings. As an added benefit, you can cut a piece and apply the latex it secretes to ease sunburns and minor cuts.

 

Snake Plant

Another plant which doesn’t need frequent watering, this succulent’s thick and waxy leaves store plenty of moisture. No need to stress while you’re away on a two-week vacation!

 

Spider Plant

This popular houseplant is perfect for newbies. A mainstay of homes around the country, and for good reason, the spider plant can withstand plenty of neglect. Just keep them watered and in indirect sunlight.

 

Pothos

Although tropical in origin, this viney plant’s heart-shaped leaves thrive even in cooler and drier climates. They don’t mind lower light or humidity levels, making them an easy and beautiful option for any home around the country.

 

Cactus

A symbol of the dry desert, cacti are the quintessential low-maintenance plant. Allow soil to dry between waterings; roughly a week if your pot has drainage holes, longer if not. As you might have guessed, these do require lots of sunlight, so place them in a brightly-lit space.

 

Cast Iron Plant

This lush evergreen is as resilient as its namesake. It is known to survive drastic shifts in temperature, and it doesn’t need a whole lot of sunlight or water to thrive.

 

Tillandsia (Air Plants)

As their name suggests, these beauties don’t even require soil to grow! As “epiphytes,” plants which extract nutrients directly from the air around them, you can hang tillandsia from the wall or ceiling as an attractive decorative piece. Just place them in bright sunlight and mist them occasionally to prevent drying, with frequency depending on the season.

 

Boost Your Quality of Life

As local real estate experts, we aim to show your listing in the best possible light. Just like a fresh coat of paint, a few well-placed plants can revitalize a room, so we love to use them when staging a home! The truth is that you don’t need a green thumb to enjoy the mood and health benefits of indoor plants. Give some of these houseplants a shot, and let us know how you fare! We’re always happy to hear from you.

The Art and Science of a Listing Price

 

Selling real estate is a unique career. Agents come in all shapes and sizes, with diverse backgrounds ranging from business management to entertainment to homemaking to everything else under the sun. Given these vast differences in abilities and past experience, your process working with a real estate agent can vary dramatically from one to the next. And yet among every single agent, there’s one skill that matters more than all the others. One skill which can make or break your sale. One skill which is truly the heart and soul of an agent’s work.

 

“So, what is it?” you say. “Spit it out! What’s the most important skill that every agent needs?”

 

Well, since you asked so nicely: It’s setting the listing price.

 

 

Buy Low, Sell High

 

We all know that negotiations are the name of the game when buying or selling a home. You want an agent who will apply force to every lever of a deal, fighting at every opportunity to save you money or boost your closing price. What you may not know is that a properly priced listing can earn you more money right from the outset. Conversely, an agent who can spot an improperly priced home might just snag you a deal.

 

In nautical terms, setting your listing price means choosing where to drop anchor. Once you’ve settled on a location, you throw out your bait to see what house-hunting fish swim in for a nibble. Yet no matter how tasty the bait or how shiny your lure, if you price too high, you simply won’t get any bites.

 

This metaphor is particularly apt when you consider broader business strategies. An “anchor price” is a widely used tactic that companies use to establish a psychological baseline for their products. If the shoe store says some boots are worth $200, then you’re getting a great deal when they’re on sale for just $100, right? (Even if they cost the store just $5.) While it’s exceedingly rare to see a home listing’s price drop anywhere near 50%, real estate is still affected by this psychology—with very real effects.

 

 

Bigger Might Not Be Better

 

Those effects are most clear in an overpriced listing. If you list too high, you’ll be subject to lowball bids, upturned noses, and open houses as empty as a ghost town. New listings tend to see the most activity and buyer interest within their first few weeks on the market. When your listing is overpriced, you’ve essentially wasted the most crucial days of your home’s marketing period.

 

After a few lonely weeks with too few or too poor of offers, you’ll likely consider a price reduction. Mind you that price reductions are a completely valid tactic in many cases, as markets can shift during the listing period for a myriad of reasons which may be impossible to foresee. However, it’s not a fun thing to do, if the lack of interest stems from simply pricing too high for the current market at the time of listing.

 

Ultimately, an overpriced listing is one of the great tragedies of real estate. The reverse, however, is not so dire. Let’s look at underpriced listings next.

 

 

How Low Can You Go?

 

An under-priced listing is not nearly the same catastrophe as an overpriced listing. In fact, setting your home’s listing price below its current market value can be a compelling strategy. Like a Black Friday sale, a low listing price can draw folks out of the woodwork to take a look at your home. Remember that the first few weeks of a new listing are the most important—a low listing price can pack those weeks with open house visitors, agent showing requests, and “saves” on sites like Zillow and Trulia.

 

That’s not to say that pricing low doesn’t come with risks. If your home still garners less than the critical mass of interest needed to boost offers and counters above market value, you’ll wind up in another sad state of affairs. In a worst case scenario, the market may shift under your listing and (like current interest rates) you’ll have little room to maneuver the lows any lower amidst an economic downturn.

 

The safest bet for most sellers and agents, especially those with less experience under their belts, remains to price a listing right around market value.

 

 

Finding the Sweet Spot

 

So how does an agent find exactly the right price to drum up the most interest and highest offers on a listing? The best tools at an agent’s disposal are the recent sales around your home.

 

When you first meet with an agent, they’ll likely provide you with a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis, detailing the price and statistics of recent listings in your area. Much like an official appraisal, CMAs compare the sold homes in your area, their features, amenities, and the dates they sold, against your own. They’ll also compare the homes that are active and pending right now, more indicators of your current local market conditions.

 

By comparing and contrasting your home with other listings in your neighborhood, your agent can triangulate a ballpark figure for your home’s value. That’s the science of setting a listing price. Popular home search tools like Zillow have grown that science into complex algorithms which claim to output estimates within a few percentage points of error.

 

Then there’s the art of pricing a home. Like painting a masterpiece, it takes years of experience and a profound professional insight to obtain an organic sense for pricing. Through dozens of transactions and persistent study of the local market, consumer tastes, national trends and lender criteria, a seasoned agent has the acumen to see beyond the comparables. Even in a subdivision with identical floor plans, every home is unique. To assess every variable and produce a strategic, targeted price is a talent which not every agent possesses.

 

 

Your Local Experts

 

At Stavros Group, we’ve been working in your neighborhood for years. We know what works, what sells and how much it sells for. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and greater Orange County, let us know. We’d be happy to discuss your options during a free, no-pressure consultation. Real estate is our passion. We’re excited to share that passion with you, to match you with the great results that you deserve!

Getting Comfortable in New Surroundings After a Move

 

Congratulations! You’ve mustered up the courage to make that cross-country move to a new city for that job you’ve always dreamed of, to be closer to family, or just a brand new start. Whatever the case may be, with the closing documents signed and the keys in your hand, you couldn’t be more excited. Then it hits you – I’m in a new city. I don’t know anyone. Nothing is familiar.  I don’t know where anything is. The excitement suddenly turns to fear.

Uprooting your life to a new city can be a refreshing, exciting change, but it can also come with it’s own list of challenges. Fear not, as we’re here to provide you with some tips and tools to help you acclimate to your new surroundings. So take a deep breath, heed our advice below, and then step outside and start enjoying your new city!

 

Locate the Essential Stores Near You

Scope out your neighborhood, either by foot or car, and establish the closest grocery stores, pharmacies, coffee shops, Target (because who doesn’t love Target), and other places you plan on frequenting routinely. Chances are you’ll need to run out to at least one of these within your first few days of moving in, so you might as well establish your go-tos. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your new city in the process!

 

Make New Friends

Moving to a foreign place where you don’t know anyone can be a really scary thing. Meeting new people can be a huge game changer in making you feel less alone and also provides someone who knows the area to show you around! Attend a new church you’ve been considering and strike up a conversation with another family. Attend that workout class you saw advertised that looks like fun. Take your kids and dog to the park nearby your house, and mingle with other moms or dads. Simply reaching out to others while doing the activities you already do can help make your new city feel less lonely and more like your new home.

 

Explore Your City

Often, during and after a move, we get so caught up in the chaos of all that needs to be done that we don’t actually take the time to stop and enjoy our new surroundings. Take a day to treat your city as if you were on vacation. If you’re in a walkable area, take some time to just wander around your neighborhood, with no agenda, and see what you come across. If you can’t walk, go for a drive (with no GPS!) and take in the surroundings. It’s amazing how much more we take in, when we’re not on a set mission to get somewhere.

 

Find Out About Upcoming Events in Your City

Check out free platforms like Eventbrite to learn about various upcoming events in your area. Browse events on Facebook – you can even filter by categories of music, crafts, sports, comedy, and more, if you have something in mind you want to do! Subscribe to your local community event calendar to stay in the know of exciting activities and events taking place near you!

 

Learn Your Transportation Options

Just moved to New York City? Chances are you’ll need to learn the best subway routes to get around. Bought a house out in the suburbs? You’ll most likely want to learn the highway system around you. An avid cyclist who plans on biking to work? Check out the safest and most direct biking lanes around town. Whatever type of area you live in, you’ll want to learn the best way to get around, in addition to the public transportation options available to you, such as subway systems, bus transit lines, bikesharing programs and ridesharing services. Also, a tip: if you’re starting a new job, test out your new commute before your first day to see exactly how long it takes you. Being late on your first day is never a good thing!

Settling into a new city can be overwhelming, so above all, give yourself time to acclimate. It won’t happen overnight, but, as you slowly become more comfortable with your surroundings, this new place will start to feel like home.