Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

April 5, 2021

Why Home Staging Is the Key to Getting Full Value When You Sell

There are a lot of steps involved in selling your home, and one of the most important is to make it look as attractive as possible to potential buyers. Many buyers do this by going through a process known as home staging. From tending the lawn to paint touch-ups to rearranging furniture, home staging is meant to make your home look the best it can to buyers and their agents. 


The process can be involved, time-consuming, and expensive, however. The average cost can range from $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the size of your home and how much work is needed. It is thus natural to ask whether it’s a step you can skip. 


This guide will explain what is involved in home staging, why it’s needed, and some tips for doing it right.

Why Stage Your Home?

Home staging is the art of decorating, repairing, and decluttering a home to prepare it for sale. This can be as involved as making major repairs or as simple as moving around some furniture, and there are a few things to keep in mind:


  • The main goal is to make the home – inside and out – as appealing as possible to the widest range of possible buyers.

  • Aesthetics make a difference when it comes to buying and selling a home. 

  • Home staging allows buyers to envision your space as their space and visualize it as their future home. 

  • Many buyers have trouble doing that with a home that is cluttered or looks like someone else’s house they’re just visiting.

  • According to the National Association of Realtors’ Staging Stats report, 83% of buyers’ agents say staging a home makes it easier for buyers to envision the space as their own. 

  • Home staging also increases the dollar value offered for the home, according to 44% of buyers’ agents.


Home staging reduces the time the listing is on the market. Any seller who wants to get more for their home in a shorter amount of time, then, should seriously consider staging.

7 Techniques for Successful Home Staging

home staging

It is important to do a thorough job of home staging before selling, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Some people choose to hire professional stagers, but there’s a lot you can do on your own:

1. Add Curb Appeal

The exterior of your home and your lawn are the first things potential buyers will see, and you’ll want to make a good impression. Trimming hedges, cutting grass, filling in flower beds, and adding or replacing mulch are all simple ways you can spruce up your home’s curb appeal. Make sure any window boxes have fresh flowers or greenery. Tidy up the front porch or entryway by sweeping away excess dirt or leaves.

2. Get Rid of Clutter

One of the most basic ways to make your space more appealing to buyers is to get rid of clutter. Begin packing up the things you don’t use regularly and moving them to storage or your new home. You may also need to remove excess furniture. When professional stagers stage a home, they often remove as much as half the furniture. You want buyers to be able to move around easily and comfortably. And less furniture in a room can make it look bigger. 

3. Reposition Furniture

Consider repositioning the pieces left in each room. You will want to create a flow through every room, making sure closets and doorways are easily accessible. 

4. Retouch and Repair

It is not necessary to invest in major upgrades to stage your home. It’s a good idea, however, to address minor issues such as marks on walls, scuffs, or recaulking. Marks on walls can generally be cleaned off, whereas holes or scuffs may need to be patched and painted. Paint touch-ups throughout your home can go a long way.

5. De-Personalize the Space

Approach your home staging by thinking of it as a blank canvas. Buyers want to picture themselves in the home, and personal items can distract from that feeling. Experts recommend taking down family photos, kids’ artwork, framed diplomas, and personal collections. Removing all reminders that the house belongs to someone else will help buyers imagine themselves in the space. 

6. Keep It Neutral
There is nothing wrong with bold paint colors, but when it comes to open houses, it’s best to cover any bright hues with a neutral shade like white, gray, or beige. This doesn’t mean that rooms have to be devoid of color or personality – you can still add colorful fabrics, pillows, art prints, or plants. It is best to go with a neutral shade, though, when it comes to walls. 

7. Highlight Design Features

Fireplaces, built-in bookshelves, and other standout design details are potential selling points for your home. You will want to accentuate these areas when staging your space. Consider arranging the furniture to make the fireplace the focal point. Do not overcrowd the mantle with objects or photos. Perhaps hang one framed work of art or an oversize mirror. 


You want to keep the homes as bright and approachable as possible. Bookshelves or other built-in shelving should have only minimal books or knick knacks, for example. Shelves shouldn’t be bare, but you don’t want them to look cluttered either. 

Details Go a Long Way

Once you’ve reduced clutter, rearranged the furniture, and done the other major steps above, there are still some smaller things that can make a difference. Be sure to add that final “wow” factor with these last-minute touches:

Pleasing Scents

Inviting aromas can make a big difference when you walk into a space. Add an air freshener or diffuser to your entryway and be sure to address any odors from pets or musty basements. 

Fresh Flowers or Plants

These can add a pop of color and make your space feel warm and welcoming.

Natural Light

Open curtains and blinds to let in as much light as possible. Bright spaces are appealing, and natural light can make a room feel more spacious.


With a little time and effort, your home can become a tasteful canvas upon which buyers can project their own personal preferences and style. Getting rid of clutter, keeping things neutral, and adding some homey final touches will help buyers see the potential in your home.

Selling a Home in Maryland

The pros at Signature Home Sales can help you get the best price if you’re selling a home in Maryland. Our agents have over a decade of experience listing and prepping homes to achieve the best results, and our staged listings are under contract an average of 10 days after the list date. That is why we offer our seller clients complimentary home staging. 


Contact Signature Home Sales today to discuss how we can assist you.  

Posted in Market Updates
March 29, 2021

A Step-by-Step Guide to Narrowing Your Home Search

Buying your first home or searching for a new home can be an overwhelming process. There is a lot of preparation and planning involved before you even begin your search, and sometimes the search itself can take longer or be more time-consuming than you had hoped. Nonetheless, finding the home of your dreams is an exciting experience, and a rite of passage for some. The process can be easier and quicker if you narrow your search ahead of time. 


Narrowing your home search involves taking time to assess your wants and needs and getting your financial paperwork in order. It may seem like a stressful undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will walk you through the steps you should take to narrow the search for your ideal home.

Step 1: Set a Budget


Setting a budget is perhaps the most important step in any home search. Think about what you’re comfortable spending, and factor in any other long-term plans such as car purchases or starting and growing your family. A good rule of thumb is to look at houses priced no more than two or three times your gross income. Create a spreadsheet of monthly expenditures so you can determine a budget, then focus on the options within that price range. 

Step 2: Consider Your Wants and Needs

There are several questions you should ask yourself or talk over with your family before moving forward with a home search. The more specific you can be about your needs and desires, the better chance you’ll have of finding the perfect house. 

Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms

The number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need is partly determined by your family size, but you should also consider whether you want to have an extra room for houseguests. 

Outdoor Space, Garage, and Other Necessities

Is a patio or a deck a must-have? Is it essential to have a garage? Are you hoping for other amenities such as a pool, a backyard, a front porch, or a fireplace? You may not be able to have it all, so take note of what’s most important to you. 

Ideal Style

Put some thought into which styles appeal to you. Go ahead and rule out newer construction, for instance, if you love historic details and want a house with classic charm. You may also decide you want a ranch-style home for the convenience of single-floor living or because you have young children and are worried about stairs. Whether your preferred home style stems from aesthetics or convenience, make sure you’re clear on what you want. 

School District

You may already have a preferred school district in mind if you have kids. Or you may want to live in a particular district that will appeal to buyers with families down the road. Choosing a school district will help narrow your choices, whatever your motivation. 

Proximity to Work

Is it important to be within walking distance or a short driving distance to work? Or are you willing to have a longer commute if it means you get more of what you want in a home? Some people prioritize living close to work and some are more flexible.  


These are important questions that will guide your home search, but you might find that they aren’t as ironclad as you thought. Sometimes your search for a home will uncover a gem that doesn’t check off all the boxes but is nonetheless the one you have to have.

Buying a home can be an overwhelming process. Narrowing your home search will make things easier and increase your chances of finding the perfect place.

Step 3: Visit Neighborhoods and Talk to Locals 

You should visit different neighborhoods in your desired area, whether you’re house-hunting in a big city, relocating to a new town, or are in a different situation. Take a walk, stop into a coffee shop or boutique, or sit in a park on a nice day. You will get a much better feel for the neighborhood than you would by just looking at photos or reading about it. 


Striking up conversations with locals can be helpful as well. People who already live in the areas you’re targeting will have a unique perspective, and that can be invaluable as you make your decision. 

Step 4: Make a Final List of Your Parameters

You have set a budget, thought about your must-haves, considered school districts, and narrowed down the neighborhoods you like. Now it’s time to compile all the data you’ve collected so you can easily review your profile and share it with real estate professionals. Keep an open mind throughout your home search. That will make it easier when you start working with an agent, because professionals will sometimes point you toward places that you might have otherwise ruled out – but that might be the perfect fit.

Step 5: Get Pre-Approved for Financing

Taking the extra step of getting pre-qualified for a loan should make your home search even easier. Collect your financial records and meet with a lender to obtain pre-approval. This will make you a more attractive buyer, as it shows you’ve done your research and can afford to buy a home. 


Putting the work in on these steps will get you prepared and put you in the right mindset to find the perfect home for you. And it will mean you’re ready to meet with a real estate agent and begin the search for the home of your dreams. 

House Hunting in Maryland

At Signature Home Sales, our team of experts is well-versed in the Maryland area real estate market. Whether you need market stats, trends, news, or the latest listings, we’re here to serve as a one-stop resource for everything you need to make a smart residential property decision in Maryland. Contact Signature Home Sales today so our experts can help you find the perfect home.

March 22, 2021

8 Tips For Identifying High ROI Real Estate Investment Properties

Buying an investment property is an excellent way to set yourself up for the future, provided you can find some high ROI real estate. Purchasing a second home means you can have renters pay most of your mortgage expenses, and you end up with a valuable house at the end of it.


It is important to identify real estate that has the potential to generate a decent ROI because, otherwise, the entire process can end up less advantageous financially. This guide will inform you of some key ways to identify residential real estate properties that can deliver a solid return. 

How to Calculate ROI

Return on investment (ROI) is the amount of profit you make from your investment as a percentage of its costs. This number shows the efficiency of your investment dollar by comparing your expenses to your earnings. The higher the ROI, the better your investment performed. When purchasing investment real estate, your sale price, rental income, purchase price, and repair and maintenance costs all influence your final return.


There are a couple of different ways to calculate ROI, depending on how you purchase the home and the length of time you hold onto it. Using these calculation methods gives you a clearer idea of how much you’re making on a particular investment.


Cost Method

The most straightforward way to calculate ROI is the cost method, which involves dividing the property’s equity by its costs. Using this method, you could buy a home for $250,000, put $50,000 worth of repairs into it, and potentially sell the house for $400,000. By dividing the house’s equity, which is $100,000, by the expenses, which are $300,000, you get an ROI of 33% on the investment.

Out-of-Pocket Method

Professional real estate investors will often use the out-of-pocket method to determine their ROI. In this situation, the investor will put up a down payment and then finance the rest of the property cost with a loan. The investor will then repair the house and flip it again quickly, meaning they paid little on the loan – and increased their ROI in the process.

Other Considerations

There’s more to investment properties than buying them, fixing them up, and selling them again, of course. Many investors will hold onto these houses for years, building equity in the process. Your ROI on that approach would include maintenance expenses, repair costs, taxes, rental income, and anything else that influences your return.


Calculating your ROI ensures that you understand how much return you’re gaining from every dollar you invest in the real estate market. You can determine if the process is worth your while from there.

Two people shaking hands on a residential real estate deal with keys and a contract on the agent’s desk

8 Factors to Consider When Looking for High-ROI Residential Real Estate

No two real estate transactions are the same, and there are always variables that dictate whether the purchase you’re considering is an attractive deal. Before buying a residential investment property, it’s crucial to look at some factors that could determine how much of a return you stand to make.

1. The Neighborhood 

An essential aspect to think about when buying an investment property is the neighborhood. If the house is in a dangerous community that renters want to avoid, it could make your life more challenging and create difficulties when selling. When holding a property long-term, you should always keep in mind that the neighborhood could change significantly before you sell.

2. Schooling Options

Hand-in-hand with the neighborhood you choose is the school district. Parents will always want their kids in good schools and will pay a premium to find a home close to them. You can make a more informed investment decision if you carefully consider the distance and quality of the neighborhood’s schools.

3. Nearby Amenities

Entertainment, shopping, and other nearby amenities can influence a home’s value. Renters and buyers alike will pay more for a convenient location, so finding an investment property with easy access to restaurants and stores can make it more attractive in the long run.

4. Age of the House

The age of the home is always worth considering because the older the property, the more there is that can go wrong. As homes age, they’re more likely to develop issues, even when you take great care of them. At the same time, there’s something to be said for investing in old character homes because buyers love these properties when they’re renovated. 

5. Overall Condition

The age of the house is important, but so is its overall condition. The home's foundation and structure should be sound because that will limit how much work you have to put into it before selling. 

6. Required Work

How much work does the home need before you can resell or, at the very least, rent it out? Getting a great deal on a home doesn’t matter much if it takes you months to address damage or if repairs end up costing you thousands of dollars. Understanding how much work a property needs and what it might cost is essential before you begin.

7. Past Maintenance

Every home requires maintenance, but some owners ignore these jobs, leading to long-term damage. For example, buying a home where the previous owner didn’t take care of the flooring, keep up with the exterior paint, or water the lawn will leave you with additional work getting the property ready for market – and that will cut into your ROI.

8. Financial Considerations

You will want to look at comparables in your neighborhood to see how much renters are paying if you plan to hold onto your investment property for a long time. Those numbers will give you a clear indication of how much you can charge and ensure that it’s enough to cover your mortgage and expenses and potentially deliver a small profit.


The more effort you put into determining whether the property is a good investment, the higher ROI you can expect. The goal is to find a home that renters and other buyers will find attractive at a price you can afford.

Getting Expert Assistance

When the time comes to purchase an investment property, it’s extremely valuable to have the help of a brokerage that knows the area and can provide information on the market you're looking to buy in. You will have a better idea of whether you can expect an acceptable ROI on your investment if you have an expert on your side. 

Signature Home Sales provides residential real estate services to clients, including providing information on investment properties. Be sure to contact us today to discuss your Maryland real estate needs.

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