Well sized and positioned furniture define your home's spaces for buyers

Ever walk into a room and feel you have to dodge furniture placed near the doorway or walk around sofas to access a space? It’s not that uncommon, as most homeowners take their furniture with them from home to home without a lot of thought about whether it will fit the spaces they have.

None of this really matters, of course, unless you are getting ready to sell your home. That’s when potential buyers will look for spacious, open and welcoming rooms. If your rooms are cluttered with too much furniture, no matter what the size of the room, they will appear smaller than they really are.

Staging website TheSpruce.com gives home sellers a few tips on how to start the process of making your own home look spacious by first recommending that you take a walk through it and see if you notice your baseboards throughout. Stager Ronique Gibson advises, “Just because your home is small doesn’t mean it has to look small to buyers. There are many ways to add square feet visually. You can make your rooms look larger by repositioning or replacing furniture.” She adds that doing this will help you de-emphasize your home’s weakness and highlight its strengths.

You may have chosen those dark brown leather sofas ten years ago because they wouldn’t show the dirt and could handle the dogs. Now? They may be cracked and worn, and their color could be closing down your space. Replace worn out furniture pieces with a lighter color and lighter weight pieces. “Buyers only take in what they see and rarely envision what could be,” says Gibson. “If they see worn-out furniture in your rooms, they will conclude that your home is neglected and think that other areas are also neglected. Get new covers for your old upholstered furniture and remove old pieces.” If you want to get a good idea of what a room could look like after making changes like this, go online and find a free virtual staging program. It will help you envision your space before moving, removing or replacing furniture.

Ah. And then there is that habit of pushing furniture against the walls, thinking it makes the room look bigger, when that really isn’t the case. “When there’s a lot of space between furniture, a room looks bare,” says Gibson. “Place furniture pieces close to each other to create intimate conversation areas. Do not place chairs further than 8 feet apart and think about traffic flow when arranging pieces. Unless the backs of your furniture are unfinished, don’t be afraid to show them off.”

Focal points still rock, so choose one if one does not exist. Is it the view, the fireplace or the huge flat screen TV? “Place the biggest piece of furniture first, then add others,” advises Gibson. “Arrange the pieces around the focal point with the largest facing it. This creates order in the room. Avoid having more than one focal point as the room may look disorganized. People’s eyes are usually drawn to one item when they enter a room and this is what you need to emphasize.”

Other pointers include using furniture to define little-used rooms, like making a basement into a yoga room, or transforming a loft into a music room or sewing room, even if it’s just for staging purposes. You can even add a small table and chair to a stairwell nook or just add some huge pillows and a shaggy rug to make it look like a reading cove.

And don’t forget to put some light on the subject. “Don’t block the path of natural light with furniture, let it in,” says Gibson. “Place chairs and sofas near walls without windows so that all the windows are bare. You can also place furniture pieces across from windows; just be sure to arrange the pieces as stylishly as possible. The light will liven up your room, and your furniture arrangement won’t look cumbersome.”

Source: TheSpruce, TBWS

Honesty is always the best policy when getting a mortgage

It’s easy to think of mortgage fraud as the kinds of crimes committed by predatory lenders -- stuff you read about on the news. What you don't read about, however, is the type of fraud your garden variety mortgage applicant can commit.

A study by CoreLogic found that an approximately 1 in 109 mortgage applications contains instances of fraud. Even if your intent is not to be malicious, the tiniest of white lies on your mortgage application could land you in scalding hot water, since it is a federal crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million or a combination of both.

Here are things you should NOT do as a mortgage applicant:

Lie about your income. Lenders know that with increasing home values and rising interest rates, prospective homeowners are eager to get into a home before any future increases take place. But if the house you’ve got in mind is not within your means, you might be tempted to inflate your income in order to qualify for a larger loan — something most frequently done by sole proprietors, freelancers, or small business people. According to CoreLogic’s study, income fraud, which involves misrepresenting the existence, continuance, source or amount of income used to qualify for a mortgage was the most common type of fraud the company saw in residential loan applications it reviewed from 2017 to 2018. You’ll be walking down a slippery slope fudging your income anyway because mortgage lenders verify your income against your tax returns. If the numbers don’t match, you won’t qualify, AND you could be accused of attempted fraud.

It’s not uncommon for parents to offer gift money to their kids for the down payment on their homes. It’s allowed, but there are definitely rules surrounding the giving of that gift. One of those rules is that a loan can’t be passed off as a gift. Doing so allows the homeowner-to-be to bump up their down payment without increasing their debt-to-income ratio, and it’s fraudulent.

Another way to commit mortgage fraud is to borrow money against an asset in order to come up with more funds and then keep that loan a secret from the mortgage lender — a dastardly deed known as a silent second mortgage. Don’t try it. You’ll get caught anyway, since your mortgage lender will require a paper trail on all the funds used for your down payment. If you’re caught lying, the consequences can be severe.

Making a deal on the side with the seller of a home without disclosing it to the lender is another way to acquire bad legal juju. In attempts to get their homes sold, some homeowners will incentivize the deal by paying for some of the buyer’s repairs, closing costs or down payment. It’s not unusual for homebuilder builders to offer their buyers incentives, but NEVER without it being disclosed to the lender. Any financial deals between buyer and seller made outside of the official sales transaction and without the lender’s knowledge are considered fraudulent because the lender is being tricked into financing more than the home’s actual purchase price.

There are owner-occupied loans and non-owner occupied loans, and never the twain should meet. If you’re buying a piece of property in order to generate rental income rather than live in it as your primary residence, you have to say so on your mortgage application. If you don’t, you’ll be guilty of what’s known as occupancy fraud. While you may not see why it’s a big deal, mortgage lenders see it as a huge one. Why? Because rental properties experience a higher rate of default than primary residences — a reason owner-occupied interest rates are lower than those for rental properties. Lately, this type of fraud is being discovered among the Airbnb host community. Once discovered, those owners will find their interest rates raised, make their entire loans immediately due and payable, or they may even foreclose on the property.

Bottom line? Any attempt to commit mortgage fraud is simply not worth it.

Source: CoreLogic, TBWS