Maybe you’re moving, maybe you’re remodeling, or maybe you’re just trying to do a deep clean of the house. Whatever your reason for decluttering, holding a garage sale is a great way to get rid of some of your extra stuff that you just don’t need any more and hopefully make a little extra money in the process. Here are some of the best tips for hosting the ultimate garage sale.
- Clean everything before putting it out
- Hang as many clothes as you can
- Be sure to put a price on everything to avoid confusion or frustration
- Advertise A LOT through signs, newspaper, and the internet
- Include all relevant Information in your ad
- Don’t park your cars in your driveway. Put them in the garage or park them on the road
- Put large items closest to the road to catch the eye of passers by
- Group similar items together
- Avoid putting small items on the ground
- Have a decent amount of change ready and available
- Offer free lemonade or something similar
- Have bags ready in case people need help carrying all their purchases
- Get as many tables as you can or create makeshift tables out of boxes, chairs, etc.
- Try to have an outlet/ extension cord or batteries available so people can test your electronic items
- Be honest and don’t try to oversell things for more than you know they’re worth
- Give as much information as possible
- Use tablecloths, towels, sheets, runners, etc. on all your tables if you can
- Whether it’s donating or turning to the internet to sell, make sure you have a plan for whatever’s left over.
- Be approachable and friendly
- Keep a mirror nearby so customers can see how they look in the glasses, hats, scarves, or other accessories you’ve made available.
- Don’t put anything directly on the ground but on a towel or tablecloth instead
- Try to keep your garage door closed so buyers don’t get distracted
- Clean up your lawn before the yard sale (mow, rake leaves, sweep the sidewalk, etc.)
No one will give you a blue ribbon each time you do it, and it's not the subject of cocktail conversations. But housecleaning is a necessary evil, and someone's got to do it. If you clean your own house, however, you may just be shooting yourself in the foot with the methods you employ, creating a situation of diminishing returns.
Realtor.com's Larissa Runkle sat down with a few housecleaning experts to determine a few common (albeit well-intentioned) cleaning mistakes they see people make, as well as offer advice on how to avoid them.
First off, you are not a Proctor and Gamble. Making your own cleaning products is noble, but you may not know how those products can also ruin surfaces or even how, mixed together, they can be downright deadly. Vinegar can dissolve the coating of wood surfaces, and baking soda can scratch and destroy chrome-coated items or marble countertops. And no matter how strong the cleaning fumes may be, never mix bleach and ammonia. It can generate chlorine gas, producing toxic vapors.
Read labels! You may be using the wrong product. Using multipurpose cleaners on high-end pieces that include wood, marble, or stainless steel can cause discoloration, even those handy cleaning wipes can cause damage. You can use them on a lot of surfaces, but not on everything. So, when in doubt, READ what the manufacturer or supplier instructions about how the product can and can't be used to clean.
What about attacking odor? You have to know that you may have become odor-insensitive after a while, perhaps only noticing how your house smells after you've gotten back from a vacation or long business trip. The act of merely spraying a deodorizer may seem like a quick fix, but cleaning experts strongly advise against it no matter what those TV commercials claim.
"The biggest mistake I see is people trying to cover up odors instead of handling them at the source," says one of Runkle's expert sources. "Walking into a house that smells like Febreze, and has candles burning in every room, and still has an odd smell is a direct sign to me that the person is trying to cover up an odor of some sort." Solving the real problem may be a simple as using a fabric cleaner for the couch or carpet or taking out the trash more frequently. Dog baths help, as does making sure the kitty litter does not sit for long.
Did you know there is an order to housecleaning? You may not know this if your mom never explained it to you. You can't just push the vacuum around one day and decide to dust the next and what about that ceiling fan whose blade tops are never seen? Cleaning aficionados say to clean from top to bottom, starting with the ceiling fan, entertainment centers, and cables, and finish off by vacuuming up anything that may have fallen on the floor. Vacuuming comes last.
Clutter creates work, which means when you let junk accumulate, you'll end up cleaning it along with everything else. "Make a garbage pile and a to-do pile," suggests cleaning guru Jenna Haefelin in the article. "When the to-do pile piles up, take action!"
Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What’s the Difference?
If you are starting the home buying process, you may have heard that you need to get pre-qualified or pre-approved. Although many people use these terms interchangeably, there are very important differences between the two terms that every homebuyer should understand.
Pre-qualification is seen as the first step in the mortgage process, and is usually done over the phone or online with a Loan Originator. You provide the lender with an overall financial picture, including your debt, income, and assets. The lender reviews everything and gives you an estimate of how much you can expect to borrow. Pre-qualification is based solely on the information you provide to the lender and can give you a starting point for your homebuying search.
A pre-approval can be done first or as a next step after pre-qualification. It requires the borrower to complete an official mortgage application and supply all the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial history and current credit rating. During the pre-approval process, you will discuss product and rate options because this is often based, in part, on your credit score. You may even lock in an interest rate. You will receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, allowing you to look for a home at or below that price level. Pre-approval puts you at advantage when you are negotiating with a seller because they know you are one step closer to being able to afford their home.
The advantage of completing both steps before you begin house hunting is that you will have a good idea in advance of how much you can afford. You won’t waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond you means. The pre-approval also enables you to move quickly when you find the perfect home, because the seller knows that your offer is serious, especially in a competitive market.
Tips and Tricks for First Time Homebuyers
- Start with a realtor that you trust. You might be spending a lot of time with this person. Make sure it’s a good fit.
- Get Pre-approved or at the very least pre-qualified. Make sure you know how much house you can afford BEFORE you start looking. Shopping for anything without a budget will only set you up for failure and disappointment.
- Know your deal breakers. It’s important to know your WANTS vs. your NEEDS and to remind yourself of them while you’re looking for houses.
- Take pictures! Start each photo with a picture of the house flyer with the address. You’ll thank yourself later. This will make life MUCH easier when you’re going back and looking at them. Also, make sure to take pictures of the home’s greatest strengths, but also any issues you see.
- Take notes! Keeping your thoughts organized about each home you view is key. Make sure to take notes as you go, or immediately after viewing EACH home you see. You won’t remember everything when you get home so this will be key when reevaluating the homes you’ve seen.
- Don’t just focus on the home. it’s easy to get caught up with the new white kitchen or beautiful hardwood floors, but you need to be careful. Make sure to take note the area surrounding the home. Will your commute to work be easy? Does the neighborhood meet my needs? (If you’re starting a family, a quiet street might be preferred over a busy one). Swapping out countertops or backsplash is relatively easy. Picking up the entire house and moving it to a more preferred neighborhood… not so much.
- Lastly, trust your gut. For some people, it might take viewing 20 homes to finally find the right one. But, for others, it might be the first or second home you visit. If you’re confident that you’ve found the right home, embrace that feeling.
There are few people you can learn better from than the ones who have been there/done that...
There are few people you can learn better from than those who have been there and done that. In her Forbes article outlining her first-time home buying experience, Julia Dellitt names a few things she did not expect during the process.
Dellitt and her family were living in an apartment, finally ready to make the big move. So, they did their homework — checking their credit, getting pre-approved for a loan, finding a Realtor they wanted to work with, and doing the rounds at open houses on weekends. On that first weekend, they made an offer, only to find the experience not quite as simple as it had looked on HGTV.
While they eventually found just the right house, here are a few things she says they learned. A big one was not even a consideration at the beginning of their house hunting expedition — transition. Because they were renters and started looking for a home about three months before the lease on their apartment ended, they assumed they’d have plenty of time to find something, and if that were not the case, they could rent month-to-month. Instead, the exact opposite happened. They ended up having to cover both their new mortgage and previous rent for a month. According to many real estate experts, this is something home buyers see as a worst-case scenario, so they don’t plan for it. Having some extra contingency funds for expenses that are more than anticipated (movers, closing costs, extra taxes, etc.) helps you avoid unnecessary financial headaches on top of such a significant investment.
It’s easy to chuckle at picky home shoppers when watching real estate reality TV shows, but when you see properties in real life, you can surprise yourself — becoming one of the very people you criticize when watching those shows. Dellitt advises would-be home buyers to stop sweating about the small stuff that can be easily fixed like ugly wallpaper, old vinyl floors or melamine counter tops, reassuring them that so much can be changed or fixed along the way.
Another thing rookie home buyers tend not to focus on is how their wish list may be unrealistic within their own budget. If you want an attached garage, a fenced-in backyard, and a downtown location, there is a point at which you may find those three things are incompatible. In the end, Dellitt and her family found a home in a quiet cul-de-sac with everything they wanted, but it was about ten minutes from the downtown area — not their original plan.
Her final warnings involve how unexpected paperwork can show up in your mailbox a while after your move — things like a request for a title abstract, or perhaps supplemental property tax bills, etc. And then there was the inspection that had been performed. She speaks of deferred maintenance items she knows she and her husband will no doubt have to address in the future — some small fixes and others will take a bit of budgeting. For the items that needed immediate attention, they negotiated with the seller and got bids from contractors.
Is the drama worth it? “Despite almost losing our home of choice, I’m so glad we stuck to our guns,” says Dellitt. She encourages first-time buyers to ask questions, even if they sound like dumb ones. Don’t get hung up on how much you don’t know. “These feelings popped up big-time during the house-hunting process, especially when I blasted our Realtor with ten questions a day via text and email. But you know what? Good real estate agents want you to feel equipped and informed...”
Source: Forbes, TBWS