How To Ensure a Quick Sale in a Competitive Market

Spring is the busiest season in the real estate market and in some areas, it can be quite a competitive time to sell your home with more homes on the market and more buyers looking to purchase. With more buyers, this season can mean a faster sell and a higher selling price provided you take the steps to ensure your home is in move-in-ready condition to attract the right buyers and encourage higher offers!

Get a Professional Opinion

No matter how objective you try to be, the reality is that your view of your home is colored by your own experiences, your personal style and your lifestyle needs which may not match the needs of your prospective buyer. Enlist the help of your realtor and a professional home stager. They can give you insight into the type of buyer that will be interested in your neighborhood, suggest updates and styles that will appeal to that audience and point out flaws that you may have overlooked but that potential buyers will notice.

Focus On Key Areas

There are some areas of the home that will affect the resale of your home more then others. Curb appeal – or the exterior of the home – is a good place to start. If your home looks outdated, dirty or in need of repair, you likely won’t make it past the initial drive-by, let along score a viewing with most buyers. Replace or repair damaged siding, windows, shingles and the like. Clean up the yard and outdoor living spaces. Apply a fresh coat of paint in a modern color to the exterior and any outbuildings, decks, fences or other structures if needed.

With your curb appeal intact, the next step is to ensure the interior of your home is ready to impress as well. It is important to stage each room: a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color, de-cluttering, proper furniture placement and the like can make a huge difference without a huge cost.

The two rooms in the house that should get the most of your attention and budget are the kitchen and bathrooms. If these areas are out of date or need repairs, potential buyers will see that as a major expense and a lot of work. Ensuring these rooms are up to date with modern styles and popular features is an important step to ensure your home stands out and receives top offers. If funding those types of updates out of pocket isn’t an option, a home equity loan can allow you to access the funds to complete the updates and then pay back the balance once the home sells.

Don’t Hide… Repair

It can be tempting to hide defects instead of repairing them. From placing a potted plant over a stain in the carpet to hiding structural issues from potential buyers, it’s always better to do the work in advance. Hiding larger problems like a cracked foundation or a broken central air unit can result in legal action and huge costs for you later on and hiding smaller things like stains or broken items is often ineffective. Potential buyers can be very picked, looking inside drawers, closets, cabinets, under furniture and more. Finding one small hidden problem will tell that that they may find many more that they haven’t seen yet and will actually lower their perceived value of your home. It is always better to repair before you list and if funding is an issue, this is another situation where a home equity loan can be the answer, allowing you to sell your home for a higher value and potentially saving you from legal issues down the road.

Avoid High Maintenance Features

Not all updates are considered equal. While updating your kitchen or bathroom to a more modern style will help increase the value of your home, here are some updates that will actually make it harder to sell. In particular, updates that require a lot of time or cost to maintain and aren’t common to the neighborhood should be avoided. For example, if you live in a neighborhood where every home has a pool, chances are potential buyers will be looking for one. But, if you live in a neighborhood where a pool isn’t common place, potential buyers may be turned off by the cost of maintaining a pool and this can actually hurt the ability to sell your home quickly! If you’re not sure, speak to your real estate agent or home stager before undertaking costly updates to ensure they will offer a good return on investment.

The post How To Ensure a Quick Sale in a Competitive Market appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Lightsaber Dueling Is Now Recognized As a Competitive Sport in France. No, Really

(BEAUMONT-SUR-OISE, France) — Master Yoda, dust off his French, he must.

It’s now easier than ever in France to act out “Star Wars” fantasies, because its fencing federation has borrowed from a galaxy far, far away and officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, granting the iconic weapon from George Lucas’ saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.

Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsaber replicas can’t slice a Sith lord in half. But they look and, with the more expensive sabers equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble, even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies .

Plenty realistic, at least, for duelists to work up an impressive sweat slashing, feinting and stabbing in organized, 3-minute bouts. The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the French federation sees itself as combatting a Dark Side: The sedentary habits of 21st-century life that are sickening ever-growing numbers of adults and kids .

“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general. “It’s becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”

In the past, the likes of Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker , Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.

France Learning Lightsaber
Christophe Ena—APIn this Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, photo, men dressed up as Stormtroopers joke as they approach a vehicle during a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

“Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly says. “Lightsaber films have the same impact . Young people want to give it a try.”

And the young at heart.

Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber. When a club started offering classes in Metz, the town in eastern France where he is stationed for the gendarmerie, Bondi says he was immediately drawn by the prospect of living out the love he’s had for the Star Wars universe since he saw the first film at age 7, on its release in 1977 .

He fights in the same wire-mesh face mask he used for fencing. He spent about 350 euros ($ 400) on his protective body armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder and shin pads) and on his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for luminous green “because it’s the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master.”

“I had to be on the good side, given that my job is upholding the law,” he said.

Bondi awoke well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside Paris this month that drew 34 competitors. It showcased how far the sport has come in a couple of years but also that it’s still light years from becoming mainstream.

The crowd was small and a technical glitch prevented the duelers’ photos, combat names and scores from being displayed on a big screen, making bouts tough to follow. But the illuminated swooshes of colored blades looked spectacular in the darkened hall. Fan cosplay as Star Wars characters added levity, authenticity and a tickle of bizarre to the proceedings, especially the incongruous sight of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria during a break.

In building their sport from the ground up, French organizers produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber dueling both competitive and easy on the eyes.

“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, the tournament organizer.

Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth 5 points; to the arms or legs, 3 points; on hands, 1 point. The first to 15 points wins or, if they don’t get there quickly, the high scorer after 3 minutes. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters “sudden death,” where the first to land a head- or body-blow wins, a rule to encourage enterprising fighters.

Blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their saber behind them. That rule prevents the viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing. Instead, the rule encourages swishier blows that are easier for audiences to see and enjoy, and which are more evocative of the duels in Star Wars. Of those, the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace” that ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by aficionados for its swordplay.

Still nascent, counting its paid-up practitioners in France in the hundreds, not thousands, lightsaber dueling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

But to hear the thwack of blades and see them cut shapes through the air is to want to give the sport a try.

Or, as Yoda would say: “Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.”

Sports – TIME


US Is World’s Most Competitive Economy: World Economic Forum

In its annual Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum has named the United States as the most competitive economy in the world.

Under the new framework for competitiveness, the U.S. economy is the closest to the “competitiveness frontier”, followed by Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, says the closely-watched Report, which was published on Wednesday.

The U.S. is ranked
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