December 9, 2022

Phew, 2021 was busy. Some of us returned to work, others headed back to school, and all of us went back out (hello, restaurants and arenas!). So it’s little wonder you might have missed some of the Realtor.com advice we gathered in the past year.

So here’s an update: We spent the past 12 months researching and writing about every real estate subject that you could encounter out there. We went straight to the experts to uncover little-known secrets and strategies about everything from buying and selling to the best bang-for-your-buck home improvement projects, and even how to hang out with a hummingbird (more on that one later).

Don’t worry if you missed out. We went back through all of our hundreds of articles to find the very best of our best. Here’s seven of our most popular advice pieces of 2020, each spotlighted with one must-know lesson we want to pass on as you head into 2022. Simply click the headlines below to read the full articles. (Oh, and Happy New Year!)

Happy homeowner rule No. 1? Check out this article so you don’t get burned.

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The great news is that you’re a homeowner! The not-so-great news: You may get a few things wrong out of the gate, But that’s OK. Almost every newbie owner has faced first-time homeowner challenges. And we reached out to them—as well as real estate experts—to gather the most egregious errors first-timers make so you can avoid some of these big homeowner blunders.

Can’t miss tip: New homeowners can often overlook the simple fact that they’ll have to do routine home maintenance every month. While that may sound like a lot, keeping your home in good repair will save you time and money in the long run. The secret is maintaining instead of repairing. So make your life easier by keeping a running list of preventive monthly maintenance tasks such as cleaning your HVAC filter and checking your foundation for leaks.

Bring home the big bucks.
Bring home the big bucks.

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Listen, do you want to know a secret? We have a couple of home-selling doozies that will help you land a sweet offer. You already know about curb appeal, filling your home with the smell of baked goods, and hiding family photos. But what you don’t know is, frankly, a lot.

We gathered the stealthy strategies of top agents to bring you their best 10 tips. So check out all their selling secrets that will help you land the largest offer.

Can’t-miss tip: You already know about buyers writing heartfelt missives to make their offer stand out, but it turns out sweet words on paper can work in reverse, too. Agents recommend writing a letter to potential buyers and leaving it on your kitchen counter for all potential buyers to see. By telling the story of what you cherish most about your home—be it raising a family or how you gather with friends on your beautiful front porch—you’ll help buyers fall in love with your property and maybe even offer you the asking price (or beyond).

Stop the snip!
Stop the snip!

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Oh, backyard oasis, your leafy beauty saved our collective sanity during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the more we admired you, the more we wanted to tend to you and keep you exactly as is. But what’s that you say? You want to change things up?

Well, that makes sense. After all, we all like to reinvent ourselves once in a while. So we rounded up ways to make your shrubs stand out, add functionality to your lawn, and amp up your garden biodiversity.

Read more to find out what backyard design rules you should blatantly break to give your outdoor space a loving zhuzh.

Can’t-miss tip: Formal outdoor spaces of yesteryear are out. What’s in are natural, lived-in yards. So ditch rows of trees and shrubs, and instead plant perennials throughout your backyard to add a sculptural element. You want to harness some of that wonder you feel when you’re out on a nature walk and spy untamed plants, flowers, and foliage.

Shiplap sank to the uncool materials depths in 2021.
Shiplap sank to the uncool materials depths in 2021.

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Joanna and Chip Gaines, the couple who launched a thousand shiplap imitators, officially laid the trend to rest in 2021. Who can blame the cuter-than-cute couple for wanting to push the boundaries of design?

After they single-handedly created the famous modern farmhouse look with on-trend rustic details, we all want to see what style they open our collective eyes to next. Will it be industrial, vintage, modern, luxe, transitional, or a combination of every style out there? All we know is, with Chip and Jo, we’ll love whatever style they choose next.

Go ahead and click through this article to find out what the reality star couple have to say about what’s out—and what’s in.

Can’t-miss tip: Dark countertops in the kitchen were a Chip and Jo mainstay when they were on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” Now that they have their own TV network Magnolia, the mood has lightened. Because while deep colors can make a space look chic, too much darkness can make a kitchen feel downright gloomy.

Jo’s fix? In recent projects, the renovation guru has opted for white countertops to complement the dark cabinets she continues to use.

Updating your kitchen is a recipe for success
Updating your kitchen is a recipe for success

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They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. But they (whoever they are) should also inform you that the kitchen is the absolute center of what can help sell your home quickly and for bigger bucks. The importance of a great kitchen is especially true given the past two years, where we spent less time eating out and more time cooking at home. So naturally, buyers-turned-chefs are looking for a leg up in the room where they likely spend a chunk of their day.

Keep reading to discover which improvements you can easily make—from countertops to fixtures—to catch buyers’ eyes (and have them reaching for their checkbook).

Can’t-miss tip: Quarantine had many of us trying out recipes from our dusty cookbooks and rediscovering that we liked to cook. And we absolutely loved cool kitchen gadgets and fixtures. Luxe, simple-to-add touches can make the kitchen irresistible to buyers. Think wine fridge, filtered faucets, and a pot filler by the stove, for starters.

Enjoy a cup of Earl Grey while your hummingbird pal sips some refreshing nectar.
Enjoy a cup of Earl Grey while your hummingbird pal sips some refreshing nectar.

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Is there any creature more delightful and magical to behold than the tiny hummingbird? You usually spy these creatures out the corner of your eye as they flit among colorful flowers. But guess what? You can create a hummingbird hangout so you can not only watch them at your leisure but also ensure your feathered friends come back to visit year after year.

Can’t-miss tip: When you spy hummingbirds, they are usually in constant motion, flapping their wings up to 80 times per second. But hummingbirds prefer sheltered perches in conifers, shade trees, and taller shrubs. You can help them hang out by leaving some sticks and small branches on bushes and trees to provide an extra landing spot. And if you want to help with nest building, place a small ball of dryer lint in the branches.

To Kondo or un-Kondo? That is the magical question.
To Kondo or un-Kondo? That is the magical question.

Marie Kondo has helped thousands, if not millions, of everyday hoarders purge too-small clothing, little-used kitchen gadgets, and unplayed CDs from their homes with her 2014 bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” But for some people, the things that didn’t quite spark joy in their Kondo cleanout fury were tossed out perhaps a bit too quickly. With the confines of the pandemic, many of us felt we needed more stuff to survive.

If you’re looking to 86 your stockpile of so-called junk in the coming year, check out this article first. And find out what you should think twice about before chucking into the donate pile.

Can’t-miss tip: We all have long forgotten hobbies: jumping rope, watercolors, playing the guitar, or skating. And while many of us rediscovered these passions during the lockdown, don’t count out the activities you have yet to pick up again. Yes, your local yoga studio may have closed, but it will open again someday. And do you really want to buy a new mat—after waiting for the global supply delays to ease? Consider that what may not be sparking joy now can start a joyful blaze in 2022.

https://www.realtor.com/advice/guide/the-best-2021-real-estate-advice/