Bob Moore | Gaithersburg Real Estate


If you plan to sell your house in the foreseeable future, it usually pays to clean out the garage. In fact, a home seller who declutters the garage today can show homebuyers the true size and beauty of this space, thereby increasing a house's overall appeal.

Ultimately, it won't take long for a home seller to declutter the garage – here are three tips to help you remove clutter from your garage before you list your residence.

1. Identify Excess Items

Old automotive parts, tools and other excess items can take up lots of space in your garage. However, a homeowner who dedicates the necessary time and resources to identify garage clutter can plan accordingly.

Separate must-keep garage items from excess items. Then, you can determine exactly how much space that you'll need to store the items that you want to keep.

For many homeowners, storage cabinets and shelving units make it easy to keep track of items in a garage. Or, if you need extra space to store garage items, you may want to consider renting a storage unit until you finalize your home sale.

2. Sell, Donate or Dispose of Excess Items

When it comes to excess garage items, there is no need to delay the inevitable. If you sell, donate or dispose of garage clutter, you can quickly eliminate excess items from your garage.

Selling your excess garage items online or hosting a yard sale may prove to be worthwhile. In both instances, you can generate interest in assorted garage items and earn extra cash at the same time.

In addition, you may be able to donate excess garage items to local charities. If you reach out to local charities and learn about their donation policies, you can find out which charities will accept your excess garage items and schedule donation pick-ups.

On the other hand, if you find garage items that are broken or damaged, dispose of these items. That way, you can free up space in your garage immediately.

3. Conduct In-Depth Garage Cleaning

After you remove garage clutter, it is important to spend some time cleaning your garage from top to bottom. This will enable you to transform an ordinary garage into a spectacular one.

If you need extra help with garage cleaning, don't hesitate to contact a professional home cleaning company. This business likely employs friendly, diligent cleaning experts who can help you accelerate the garage cleaning process.

Lastly, if you're searching for the best ways to improve your home before you list it, you may want to hire a real estate agent.

A real estate agent can offer honest, unbiased garage cleaning recommendations and suggestions. Plus, this housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you up to date about offers on your residence and ensure you can enjoy a fast, seamless home selling experience.

Want to sell your residence soon? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can bolster your garage's appearance in no time at all.



The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.

For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.

A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.

2. Become an Informed Homebuyer

A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.

Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.

Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.

A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.



Not every neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, especially if you live on a busy highway or have no access to sidewalks. However, if you're fortunate enough to live in a walkable area (or have a chance to move to one), why not take advantage of it?

Walking in your neighborhood is a free way to stay healthier, happier, and more relaxed. As long as you don't have any health conditions that would stand in the way of taking regular walks, a daily constitutional can provide you and your family with an array of benefits.

Healthy Lifestyle: Staying physically and mentally healthy is not the result of one or two positive habits, but rather a variety of lifestyle decisions you make throughout the day. Walking on a regular basis can help you achieve weight loss goals, maintain muscle tone, and increase your energy level. A moderate exercise program can also help relieve stress, enhance your mood, and slow down the aging process.

Family Bonding: Walking in the neighborhood or at a nearby public park can be a great way for your family to spend quality time together. It's also an opportunity to take a refreshing break from television watching, social media use, the Internet, and video games. Going for family walks is a simple activity, but the benefits can be far reaching.

Neighborhood Connections: The very act of walking around in your neighborhood, every day, makes you feel more connected to your environment. It also gives you a chance to chat with neighbors, meet new ones, and observe any changes that may affect the character of the neighborhood.

Critique Your Property: When you walk past your house and yard, you can often see features and flaws that may have escaped your notice when you last drove by in your car. Looking at your property from different angles and directions can help give you landscaping ideas and point out ways you can improve the outward appearance of your home. You can also pick up landscaping and property ideas by seeing what your neighbors are doing. Curb appeal is especially important if you're planning to sell your property.

Bargain Hunting: If you happen to be taking a walk in the neighborhood when yard sales are underway, it's easy to stop and scope out the treasures being offered. One caveat: If you do find something you want to buy, especially if it's a large piece of furniture, you may have to return later with your vehicle to pick it up.

Find a New Neighborhood: If you're in the market for a new home, the walkability of neighborhoods is an important feature worth keeping in mind.

Save Gas: Sometimes it's nice to take a break from driving and walk over to your neighborhood grocery store, pharmacy, or post office. On those occasions when you only need to pick up a few small items, hoofing it over to your local retailer is an alternative worth considering!



You’ve been paying off your mortgage for 10 years, building equity while making careful financial decisions to ensure that you’re on track to pay off your mortgage. So, all of those payments are essentially money in the bank for you, right?

Not quite. The equity you’ve built toward is home isn’t really accessible until you either fully pay off the home, sell your home and use your equity toward a down payment, or use it to take out a second mortgage.

In today’s article, we’re going to be talking about second mortgages--what they are, when to use them, and when you should seek out other options. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

What is a second mortgage?

A second mortgage is somewhat deceptively named. The process of taking out a second mortgage revolves around using your equity as collateral toward a second loan. That loan amount doesn’t have to be used toward a home, however. It can be spent pretty much at the discretion of the homeowner, as long as you stay within the spending limits of the loan terms.

Why take out a second mortgage?

Homeowners typically take out a second mortgage when an expense is tossed their way, whether foreseen or unforeseen. It could be a costly house or vehicle repair, a child’s education, or any other large expense that you might not have been aptly prepared for.

Types of second mortgages

There are two main types of second mortgages that homeowners qualify for. First is a standard home equity loan. You receive a fixed-rate loan that usually paid off over a loan term of 15 or 30 years.

The other type of second mortgage is a home equity line of credit (HELOC, for short). A HELOC is similar to a credit card in that you are approved for a certain amount but don’t need to spend the full amount.

Risks of home equity lines of credit

This type of loan is ideal for expenses that you maybe don’t know the full cost of. However, there is an inherent risk in taking on an expense that might go over the credit limit of your HELOC.

Just like with credit cards, interest rates vary. However, the interest rate is linked to something called a “benchmark rate.” When interest rates for the benchmark increase, so do your HELOC rates.

Aside from the variable interest rates, HELOCs can also prove to be difficult to manage for people who are already in credit card debt. So, it’s only recommended that you take out a HELOC if you are sure that you can stay on top of your monthly payments and are in good standing with other credit lenders.

Risks of home equity loans

Standard home equity loans aren’t without their own risks. For one, you’re putting your house on the line when you take out a second mortgage. So, before taking out a home equity loan on a new expense, be sure that you can manage that expense or you could risk losing your home.

Having a second mortgage can also make it difficult to refinance your home loan, which could cost you in the long run if it would otherwise pay off to refinance.

Benefits of second mortgages

Second mortgages do have their time and place. Home equity loans, for example, can help you achieve a lower interest rate than a typical loan if you have a great deal of equity built in your home. This could make the most financial sense over the long term.

Similarly, a HELOC might be a better option than a credit card for homeowners who don’t have a credit score high enough to land them a good interest rate.



For a first-time homebuyer, it is important to realize that a home seller's acceptance of your initial offer provides no guarantees. In fact, a homebuyer will still need to complete a home inspection before a home sale is finalized.

A home inspection is a valuable opportunity to learn about any potential issues with a house. After the inspection is finished, a homebuyer has the opportunity to submit a counter-proposal, rescind a proposal or keep his or her current offer intact.

Ultimately, hiring the right home inspector can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. With an expert home inspector at your side, a homebuyer can gain insights into a house's pros and cons and determine whether a house is a viable long-term investment.

So what does it take to employ the right home inspector? Here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer do just that.

1. Conduct an Extensive Search

Search far and wide for a home inspector – you'll be glad you did. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to locate a skilled home inspector in your area, you can boost your chances of identifying potential home problems before you complete a home purchase.

A first-time homebuyer can begin a search for an expert home inspector online. A simple web search is sure to provide plenty of results, and a homebuyer then can perform an in-depth review of local home inspectors' credentials.

Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask family members and friends for assistance. If a loved one recently sold a house and had a great experience with a home inspector, it may be worthwhile to hire this same professional to perform your home inspection.

2. Look at a Home Inspector's Background

How many years of industry experience does a home inspector have? What are past clients saying about a home inspector? And how does a home inspector approach each job? These are some of the questions that a first-time homebuyer should consider as he or she assesses a home inspector's background.

In addition, a homebuyer can always reach out to a home inspector directly to learn more about this professional's experience. A face-to-face or phone conversation with a home inspector may require only a few minutes to complete and can help a homebuyer make an informed decision.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help you discover your dream house as well as put you in touch with the top home inspectors in your area. As a result, this housing market professional will ensure you can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

If you're uncertain about whether to hire a particular home inspector, it never hurts to consult with a real estate agent. By doing so, you can gain honest, unbiased tips to determine whether a home inspector is the right person to evaluate your residence.

Employ the best home inspector prior to completing your home purchase – use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer should have no trouble hiring a superior home inspector.