Paint is the most inexpensive way to transform your home — it makes an incredible impact. As a former interior designer, I’ve seen many houses look radically different with just a simple coat of paint in a new color.

Let’s face it: We’ve been spending a lot of time in our houses because of COVID. Instead of renovating, try paint as an inexpensive alternative!

Choose high-quality paints like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. They apply easily without any streaks and contain 40% more pigment than paints from the big box stores so you can paint fewer coats. This saves time and money (and a lot of aggravation!). Down the road, cleaning up small scratches and marks is easier if better paint is used.

My favorite neutral colors this year are City Loft by Sherwin Williams and Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore. I love using those colors on the walls and ceilings instead of using traditional white ceiling paint.

Photo (center) via House Beautiful

Bold colors are also trending now, like a green library/home office (Soft Spruce by Benjamin Moore). If this is too much color for you, consider painting a bold color to just one wall. A condo I recently sold in North Reston was all white with one black wall (Seal Skin by Sherwin Williams), and it was stunning!

Go beyond just walls — consider painting your kitchen/bath cabinets, front door and window sashes or freshen up old furniture with a funky paint color to add punch to your space.

Painting just a little bit can make a huge impact on the way your space looks and feels. It’s amazing how color can impact our emotions, and the way our home makes us feel. The colors you choose creates the foundation of your home’s personality and reflects your own!

Lynn Cooper is a licensed REALTOR in Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Whether buying or selling, Lynn is 100% committed to her clients before, during, and after the transaction. Connect with Lynn at 202-489-7894, [email protected] or @lynncooperrealestate.

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Tell any well-meaning friend or relative that you’re buying a home and be prepared for a ton of advice. Some of it may be good, but the old thinking that you need 20% down to buy a home simply isn’t true.

Susan Ciapparelli, Senior Loan Officer at American Security Mortgage, states: “Only 1 in 4 of my clients are putting 20% or more down when home buying.”

Why? There are many loan programs available to assist buyers in obtaining the American dream without completely depleting their savings.

For example, FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment, and the lending guidelines are less stringent than with conventional loans. So, if your credit score is less than ideal, you can still qualify for a mortgage. Additionally, FHA loans may be assumable, so when it comes time to sell, a buyer could assume your interest rate making your home much more attractive to purchase, especially given the historically low interest rates we’re seeing today. Loans issued by the Veterans Administration require 0% down and may also be assumable. (Of course, you need to be a U.S. veteran to qualify.) On a conventional loan, you can put down as little as 3%, so for example, on a $565,000 sales price you can put down as little as $16,950.

Let’s also talk about mortgage insurance, also known as PMI (private mortgage insurance). Many buyers fear mortgage insurance simply because they don’t understand it. With conventional loans, your lender will require this insurance if you’re putting less than 20% down to protect themselves if you stop paying the mortgage. Mortgage insurance is based on your credit score and a few other factors. If you have great credit, your monthly PMI could be very low, freeing up your money to make improvements to your new home. Additionally, PMI can be paid in one lump sum at closing; financed in some cases or credited, instead of having monthly payments.

My advice? Have a loan officer run different scenarios using a variety of loan programs to determine the best down payment option for you; each person’s scenario can be drastically different.

Lynn Cooper is a licensed REALTOR in Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Whether buying or selling, Lynn is 100% committed to her clients before, during, and after the transaction. Connect with Lynn at 202-489-7894, [email protected] or @lynncooperrealestate.

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Here is a really important question: What do sellers want in today’s housing market?

Low inventory and low interest rates mean there aren’t a lot of homes for sale, but there are lots of buyers looking to make a move. Sellers are receiving multiple offers above list price, but what do sellers want beyond escalated sales dollars?

1. High earnest money deposits and large down payments

The earnest money deposit shows the seller you’re serious about purchasing. This money is sent to the title company as part of the offer and held in an escrow account before closing. It’s also known as a “good faith deposit” and protects the seller if you back out of the contract. Typically, it’s about 1-3% of the sales price, but if you want to win a contract these days, consider offering more, even as much as 10-15%.

A large down payment also shows the seller you’re serious and have the funds to back up your offer. Sellers worry about buyers’ financing falling through, and these two strategies can help ease their minds.

2. A “clean contract”

This means no contingencies — home inspection, appraisal and finance contingencies all waived. Sellers don’t want to have to negotiate for repairs from a home inspection report and deal with the hassle of having minor problems repaired. Consider waiving the home inspection and purchasing a home warranty to cover the cost of repairs that may arise once you own the home.

Additionally, waiving the appraisal means you’re willing to bring additional funds to the closing table if an appraiser deems the home is worth less than your offer amount. You can shift dollars from your down payment to cover this gap.

Lastly, waiving the financing contingency means you’re confident in your ability to obtain a loan. If you feel secure in your job/financial situation, this may be a good option, but please talk to your lender first.

And don’t forget: Listing agents and sellers do not want to see any mistakes on the sales contract. Be sure your agent is detail-oriented and, of course, read the contract yourself before signing!

3. A quick close

Sellers want their money and to move on! Most transactions can close in as little as 30 to 45 days depending on title work and lender procedures. Check with your lender about pre-underwriting your loan to close quicker — this can be a huge plus!

Lynn Cooper is a licensed REALTOR in Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Whether buying or selling, Lynn is 100% committed to her clients before, during, and after the transaction. Connect with Lynn at 202-489-7894, [email protected] or @lynncooperrealestate.

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We’re in a seller’s market. We’ve all heard it from our friends and have seen it on the news.

However, I’ve been on showings with buyer clients recently and noticed some sellers are getting too aggressive with their pricing. We’ve seen marked-up walls, dirty floors/carpet, lots of clutter, even holes in countertops! When buyers are touring these homes, they’re either completely turned off, or they’re mentally deducting money from the list price. 

Some sellers are also investing money in things buyers don’t care about, such as unique details that don’t appeal to most people, intricate flooring or flooring that differs from room to room, glass tile backsplashes in kitchens that make the home look dated, dark paint colors, or shoddy work done by contractors, such as painting over switch plates (that drives me crazy!).

The first days your home is on the market are crucial! If you’re not getting showing requests in the first 24 to 48 hours, your home is likely mispriced. Ideally, we want one showing per day on average the first week we’re on the market. 

In fact, the longer your home is on the market, the less it will eventually sell for. As the “days on market” accumulate, buyers AND agents think something is wrong with it and won’t want to tour.

Some sellers think, “I’ll be aggressive and just lower the price in a couple of weeks.” This is called ‘chasing the market.’ The buyers have already moved on and have no interest in your home. Why? They don’t want to negotiate with an unrealistic seller or someone they interpret as being difficult. 

The bottom line: Consult with an agent that truly understands this market and has a solid pricing strategy. 

Lynn Cooper is a licensed REALTOR in Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Whether buying or selling, Lynn is 100% committed to her clients before, during, and after the transaction. Connect with Lynn at 202-489-7894, [email protected] or @lynncooperrealestate.

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The only thing more damaging to your home than fire is water. Water damage can be truly disastrous. Left unchecked, even a slow leak will rot drywall and studs, create mold, and eventually weaken major structural elements like joists and beams.

Much water damage results from easily curable flaws that homeowners can do on their own. Here are some simple repairs you can make to avoid water damage:

Properly Grade the Soil Around Your Home

The soil directly surrounding the foundation of your home should be at a 30-degree angle, encouraging water to flow away. Ground that declines toward the house will result in pooled water, which can enter the foundation at that point or seep downward and enter through the basement floor.

Simply pack the soil down and rake it so it ramps away from the foundation; picture a small ball being placed at the base of the foundation that would slowly roll away from the home. This grading effect should be at least a foot long.

Attend to the Downspouts

Make sure your downspouts are cleared at least twice per year — or more often if you have a lot of trees near your home that drop leaves onto the roof and downspouts causing clogging. Also, clear the base of the downspouts of debris to ensure they can carry water away from the foundation. These downspouts should be at least 2 feet away from the foundation.

Fix Cracked or Missing Caulk

Walk around your home’s exterior to look for cracked or missing caulk around doors and windows. Pay special attention to the top of the window casing where water can easily accumulate.

Inside, peel off and replace any cracked caulk around bathtubs, showers and sinks. Water can easily seep into these cracks and cause drywall damage and eventually mold.

Inspect Your Roof and Attic

Roof leaks can go undetected for years and cause significant damage. Take a pair of binoculars and look for missing/peeling shingles.

Inside your home, check your attic for mold or water damage and to ensure your bathroom fans are properly venting to the exterior. You don’t have to see any daylight in your attic to have a problem.

Lastly, even if you have a new roof, flashing only lasts 10-15 years whereas the rest of the new roof can last much longer. Have your flashing inspected professionally and replaced if needed.

Lynn Cooper is a licensed REALTOR in Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Whether buying or selling, Lynn is 100% committed to her clients before, during, and after the transaction. Connect with Lynn at 202-489-7894, [email protected] or @lynncooperrealestate.

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