I hope you're having a great summer so far! In this month's newsletter, I've included 7 tips for hosting the best backyard cookout ever, as well as 5 outdoor upgrades that will add value to your home. And if you're thinking about selling your home, be sure to read through some of the most common mistakes sellers make.

Thanks for reading!
- Debbi‍

1) Make sure you have enough seating.
If you have a big group coming, don't be shy about asking your guests to bring a few extra folding chairs or even another table. Short on chairs but not on lawn space? Lay down some blankets and call it a picnic!
2) Create shade.
If you don't have a lot of natural shade, add some patio umbrellas or pop-up canopies as needed to keep guests cool.


3) Keep bugs away.
Nothing ruins a cookout like an incessant swarm of mosquitoes. Provide bug repellant (Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Cutter Skinsations are good options that smell nice), light citronella candles and tiki torches, and set up a fan or two to blow the bugs away.
4) Add lighting.
If your cookout is going to last into the evening hours, make sure you have enough outdoor lighting to keep things safe. String lights are fun and festive, and in-ground lights are great for illuminating paths.
5) Set up some backyard games.
There's nothing wrong with just kicking back and talking, but a game or two can really amp up the fun! Giant Jenga and Cornhole are fun for all ages. You can keep kids entertained by providing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, or even a splash pad!
6) Don't forget music!
Spotify has some great ready-made playlists. Backyard BBQ is a mix of classic rock favorites, and Motown Family is an upbeat playlist that all ages will love!
7) Make the cooking part as simple as possible.
Prepare side dishes ahead of time so you're not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else parties outside. Or, to make it even easier, ask your guests to contribute sides and desserts. You can minimize dishwashing by lining your platters with plastic wrap before loading them up with the raw meat you're going to grill. After the meat goes on the grill, you just toss the plastic wrap and—voila!—a clean platter ready to be a serving dish.
A good real estate agent will make sure you don't fall victim to these common seller mistakes. But just in case, make sure you understand them, too.
Mistake #1: Letting Emotions Take Over
Saying goodbye to your home can bring up a lot of feelings, but it’s important to keep your emotions in check when selling. Investopedia contributor Amy Fontinelle suggests you “forget altogether that you’re the homeowner.” Instead, think of yourself as a salesperson and come at it from a purely financial perspective.

Mistake #2: Pricing Too High
Even in today’s extreme seller’s market, it’s important to price your home based on comparable homes that have sold in your area. Overpricing your home could prevent it from coming up in your perfect buyer’s filtered search results. If your home sits on the market for too long, or if you reduce the listing price, it will make buyers wonder what’s wrong with the property. It’s in your best interest to price fairly!

Mistake #3: Not Having Amazing Listing Photos
Almost every buyer is going to look at listing photos before they decide whether or not to do an in-person home tour. If you fail to provide stunning photos, you could miss out on potential buyers. Be sure that a professional photographer comes out to take photos of your home. Photos should be taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light. Be sure to clean and stage your home before the photographer arrives.

Mistake #4: Not Being Insured
Most sellers don’t think about what would happen if a viewer tripped and twisted their ankle while walking through your home. Without the proper insurance, they could sue you for damages! So make sure you’re insured. “You may also want to make sure there are no obvious hazards on the property or that you take steps to mitigate them,” writes Fontinelle. So maybe get your rambunctious Saint Bernard out of the house before a walkthrough.
Check out Fontinelle's article on Investopedia for more seller mistakes to avoid

Ready to make some updates to your home's exterior and yard? Consider making one of these upgrades that BobVila.com says will add value to your home.
Gas burner fire pit and surrounding patio area
With a cost to build around $6000 and an estimated return of $4000 when you sell your home, a nice fire pit area will get you a 67% ROI.
New garage door
Boost curb appeal, conserve energy, and enjoy enhanced safety features with a new garage door. You'll recoup 98% of the cost!
New front door
Replace your old wood door with a super-durable and secure steel door. Choose something that will make a stunning first impression—browse different types of decorative glass, window panels, and hardware. Estimated ROI for a new front door is 75%.
Implement a lawn care regimen
Turning your patchy, weed-riddled yard into a pristine lawn could yield a whopping 265% return. To accomplish this, you'll need about six applications of lawn fertilizer and weed-control each year. Other high-return law updates include installing a sprinkler system, adding a flagstone walkway, mulching, and planting trees and flowering shrubs.

Add a deck or patio
A dedicated space for grilling, lounging, and entertaining can add a lot of value to your home. You could expect around a 69%-76% ROI.
Get more ideas for outdoor upgrades on the BobVila blog.
National Housing Market Update:
May was a busy month for sellers!
In May, we saw a year-over-year increase in the number of homes for sale (active listings) for the first time since June 2019. Inventory was up 8% over last year. But when we compare it to May of 2020, there are still only half as many listed homes available today.
"Sellers still listed at rates 6.4% lower than typical 2017 to 2019 levels prior to the pandemic," wrote Sabrina Speianu, economic data manager at Realtor.com
This increase in active listings is due to the slight cooling in buyer demand -- with rising interest rates and record-high prices, some buyers are getting priced out of the market.
Prices reached new heights
"The May national medial listing price for active listings was $447,000, up to 17.6% compared to last year and up 35.4% compared to May 2020," reported Speianu.
One reason for the acceleration in listing prices could be the increase in the number of larger homes (1750+ square feet) going up for sale.
It's interesting to note, however, that the median price of pending listings (homes under contract) actually decelerated. "This indicates that the homes which buyers are choosing to buy tend to be less expensive," said Speianu, "and also suggests that sellers have not fully adjusted their expectations to market conditions."
Read the May 2022 Housing Market Trends Report on Realtor.com
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Debbi Rivero
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