Hopkinton MA Real Estate | Donna Coakley McGowan - Millennium Realty


Home staging is one of the most tried-and-true methods of selling your home faster. It can also help you increase the purchase price of your home by between one and five percent.

However, working with a professional home stager--while a good investment--is not always in everyone’s budget.

The good news is, there are a lot of simple and inexpensive ways to stage your home that will give visitors a good first impression, make for great photos for your online listing, and hopefully help speed up your home sale.

In today’s post, we’re going to break down six of the most effective and inexpensive home staging tips to help you sell your home faster.

1. Declutter everything

Cleaning out your home is one of the best ways to make it appear more spacious and welcoming. It gives you the chance to start packing items you won’t need until you move into your new home, and it opens up space to use a few choice decorations around the home.

For things like cabinets and closets, remove all of the items you won’t need until you move. A closet that is half-full will look much larger for guests viewing your home.

2. Clean carpets and polish wooden furniture

Carpets, flooring, and furniture make up a large percent of the visible space in your home. Leaving these items dirty or worn when selling your home is missing out on a huge opportunity to make your home look up-to-date and well-maintained.

You can rent a carpet cleaner for as little as $20, and a gallon of wood polish costs around $15, making these two items a solid investment for staging your home.

3. Paint with bright colors

When we paint our homes we usually choose colors that we like, rather than ones that appeal to the largest number of people. And although that’s a great thing while you own a home, it can be detrimental when it comes time to sell. Repainting dark walls in bright, neutral tones will make the room feel larger and well-lit.

4. Paint the front door while you’re at it

A freshly painted, bright colored front door can be the secret weapon when it comes to making your home stand out amongst your neighbors. It is a cheap way to quickly freshen up the exterior of your home and increase curb appeal.

5. Purchase a new welcome mat and mailbox

Welcome mats tend to get a lot of use and wear down. Similarly, mailboxes often get dented and faded over the years.

These two items can be excellent accents to improve the curb appeal of your home. Choose colors that match the overall color scheme of your home to establish a sense of continuity.

6.  Rearrange furniture to allow foot traffic

When someone comes to view your home, you’ll want to sure they have ease of access to each part of the house. Rearrange the furniture in your kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms to make it easy to tour the home.


If possible, it helps to maintain a flexible deadline as you navigate the homebuying journey. Because if you have a tight deadline in place, you risk making a rash homebuying decision. And as a result, you may pay too much to acquire a home. Perhaps even worse, you risk purchasing a house that fails to match your expectations.

As you prepare to kick off your homebuying quest, it helps to plan ahead. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your home search and discover your ideal residence in no time at all.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you accelerate the homebuying journey.

1. Prepare Homebuying Criteria

If you know you want to buy a home, you should put together property buying criteria. That way, you can enter the housing market with a plan in hand to acquire your dream residence.

To establish homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside. For instance, if you want a home close to parks and other family-friendly attractions, you should hone your house search accordingly. On the other hand, if you need a house that offers quick, easy access to family members, you should search for a home near these relatives.

Consider the features you want to find in your dream home, too. If you make a list of home must-haves, you can focus exclusively on houses that have the features you require.

2. Establish a Budget

Usually, it is beneficial to begin a home search with a mortgage at your disposal. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house. Then, you can search for houses that won't force you to exceed your budget.

To obtain a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about home financing. Plus, they can help you make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble performing a successful home search.

A real estate agent is devoted to homebuyers' success, and as such, will do what it takes to help you achieve your desired results. For instance, if you want to buy an affordable house in a small town, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to do just that. Or, if you want to purchase a home near your office in the city, a real estate agent will craft a custom homebuying plan so you can accomplish your goal.

Furthermore, a real estate agent takes the guesswork out of buying a house. If you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent will respond to them – without exception.

Want to enjoy a fast, stress-free homebuying experience? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you may be better equipped than ever before to seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.


Applying for your first home loan can seem scary or daunting to many first-time homeowners. However, this process, if done correctly, can save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on interest over the lifetime of your loan.

Before you apply for a loan, there are several documents you’ll want to gather and steps you’ll want to take to ensure the application process goes smoothly. In today’s post, we’ll talk about one specific aspect of the mortgage application process--credit scores.

Credit scores may seem confusing. However, since they can so drastically affect your home loan interest rate, it’s important to understand their implications.

Credit checks and mortgages

One of the things that all lenders will want to see before approving you for a home loan is your credit score. If you’re thinking of applying for a mortgage, odds are that you’ve been working to build credit by paying off loans and credit cards on time each month.

The three main credit bureaus in the U.S. are all required to give you a yearly free credit report. This is a detailed document that outlines your lines of credit, payment dates, and amounts. It’s a good idea to get a detailed credit report and check for errors before applying for a loan.

Unlike a hard “credit inquiry,” a free report does not affect your credit score, so you don’t have to worry about dropping a few points by requesting one of these reports.

When applying for a mortgage, however, lenders will perform a hard credit inquiry to determine your borrowing eligibility. This is a part of the pre-approval process and is typically unavoidable.

This is important to note if you are planning on applying to multiple lenders. Be aware that each “prequalification” and “preapproval” may come with a temporary drop in your credit score.

Since credit inquiries make up a total of about 10% of your credit score, these inquiries can make a difference in the short term. For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid opening new cards or taking out other loans (such as an auto loan or student loan) within six months of your mortgage application.

If you aren’t sure of your current score, you can always check for free from websites like Credit Karma and Mint.

One last thing to note about credit scores and their relationship to mortgages is that most lenders use a specific type of score known as a FICO score. In fact, every adult in the United States with a credit score will have three FICO scores, one from each major credit bureau.

So, when checking up on your credit score, it’s good to remember that each score will be slightly different and your lender’s score may not reflect what you see online.


Image by Craig Adderley from Pexels

What better way to unwind after all the stress of moving and settling into a new house than to have a housewarming party? It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be a large shindig or small party, a fancy dinner or a casual barbecue. Whatever the plan, a housewarming party is a fantastic way to show off your new home.

After the cost of moving, you might not want to spend too much on your party. The good news is you can have a housewarming party on a budget. There are no rules or guidelines as to what a housewarming should look like, so work with your space, time, and budget — just ensure you and your guests have fun. Use the tips below as a guide for throwing a housewarming party in your new home without putting a dent in your pocket.

Make a Budget

The first thing to do is to figure out how much you want to spend. You do not have to go overboard financially to throw a great party; work with whatever amount you have available.

Set a Reasonable Date

Choose a date and time that’s comfortable for you — financially and mentally. After the stress of moving and settling in, give yourself enough time to recover before hosting friends and family.

Cap Your Guest List

When there is a budget constraint, limit the number of guests you invite. Restricting guests to your closest friends, your immediate family, and your new neighbors will help you keep costs down especially when it comes to providing food and beverages for a crowd.

Utilize Free Invitations

There are multiple free invite options available for you to use, but a simple Facebook or WhatsApp message will do. Request RSVPs from your guest so you can prepare for the number of people attending.

Skip the Decorations

The purpose of your housewarming party is to show off your new home. You do not necessarily have to use other forms of decorations. If you intend to decorate anyway, buy decorations that serve you after the housewarming such as a string of festive fairy lights or tiki lamps for your patio.

Throwing a housewarming party on a budget means inviting people over to your place to have fun with what you have available. Ensure you have fun while at it. Your agent is an excellent resource for local specialty shops to find unique party décor or local foods to try.


Generally speaking, taking a family vacation can "recharge your battery," give you a new lease on life, and enable you to get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. That's the ideal scenario when everything falls into place. However, if you're one of those families that are always looking for a new place to explore every year, then your vacation experiences may become more hit or miss.

While a little research can often go a long way, online brochures and articles tend to put a positive spin on what may or may not be an ideal vacation destination. Even customer reviews can give you a false impression of the desirability of a tourism spot. Just because a couple people had an especially good or bad experience in a particular tourist town, does not mean you're going to encounter similar types of service, weather, prices, crowds, or ambiance.

Online reviews, tourism information, and vacation blogs can provide you with helpful insights into the desirability of a vacation spot, but every time you try a new resort, vacation rental, or tourist attraction, you're gambling on whether or not you and your family will like it.

Since time away from work and vacation budgets are usually limited, it makes sense to do everything possible to increase the odds of planning and having a great vacation! Visiting the places you're considering staying at before you make reservations there is one method of choosing a location you'll probably love. Sometimes recommendations from close friends or relatives can provide you with some solid vacation ideas. While anonymous online reviews and blog posts can lead you down the wrong path, recommendations from a trusted friend or family member have much more credibility.

One method of ensuring a higher level of quality control over your accommodations, amenities, and -- to some degree -- your meals is to buy a vacation home. If you can find an affordable cabin, beach house, or ski chalet in a location you like, then you'll always know what you're getting in terms of living space, ambiance, environment, and local attractions. You can prepare a certain percentage of your meals at your vacation home, which can control your food expenses and make going out to dinner more special.

Another advantage of returning to the same vacation spot (and home), year after year, is that you become familiar with the best places and times to enjoy restaurants, golf courses, beaches, ski slopes, hiking trails, nightclubs, or whatever you enjoy doing on vacation. When you find the ideal "home away from home" to spend weekends, vacations from work, and school breaks, you'll always know exactly what you're getting and will have a higher degree of control over your environment and your overall vacation experience. One final advantage of owning a vacation home is that you can defray your mortgage payments and maintenance costs by generating rental income during the times you're not using the house.




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