Wendy Butler | ERA Key Realty


Photo by marcdenning via Pixabay
 

Adding square footage of living space to your home is always a sound investment. Not only does it give you and your family more space to play, but it adds resale value, too -- even if the square footage you add is outdoors. A well-designed and constructed pergola does both. It provides shade and shelter for guests; at the same time, it adds beauty and function to your backyard while boosting its value to potential buyers.

Benefits of Adding a Pergola

We've put together a checklist of reasons why you might want to consider upping your entertainment game with the addition of a backyard pergola:

Pergolas Ground Your Outdoor Space

A beautiful pergola is the perfect structure to section off a portion of your backyard for entertaining. Sit beneath it for hours, reading your favorite books. Or, host a friendly get-together for a dozen friends. A pergola delineates your entertainment space. 

Pergolas Provide Shade and Shelter

Entertaining with a pergola means guests stay cooler and somewhat protected from the elements. Add a shade canopy made of canvas, lattice or natural, vining plants, and your pergola can help keep the area beneath it up to 15 degrees cooler on the hottest, summer day.

Pergolas Add Privacy

There are so many ways to perk up your pergola, including adding curtains, lattice, plants and more. All add beauty to your construction, but they all add privacy, too. Sit outside without the world staring back at you when you settle in under your pergola. 

Constructing Your Pergola

Now that you've decided a pergola is the perfect home improvement, how do you go about building one?  You have several options:

DIY Pergola

You can build your pergola from scratch if you have the know-how and tenacity. This is the most economic option, but make sure it's permitted and built to code if you're trying to up your resale value. You'll want to choose materials that are hardy against the elements, such as pressure-treated wood, cedar, vinyl or aluminum. You'll also need specific tools and supplies, such as a post-hole digger and quick-set concrete. 

Pergola Kit

Pergola kits are readily available online and at your local home improvement store. They include everything you need to construct your pergola, including the wood, vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass posts, brackets and hardware. Upon delivery, your pergola is ready to assemble. This option is a little pricier than doing it yourself, but it's cheaper than calling in a pro. 

Professional Installation

The average cost of professional pergola construction is between $3,500 and $4,000, according to HomeAdvisor. This cost can change according to where you live, the materials used and the size of your pergola. But this option is also the one that will raise your resale value the most. 

When it comes to living space, every square foot counts. This is especially true when it's time to list your home for potential buyers. Consider the addition of a pergola to enhance both the function and beauty of your backyard. Your family and the next one will love you for it. 


If you buy or sell a home, it is normal to expect negotiations after an initial offer is submitted. However, differentiating between a "fair" counter proposal and an exorbitant offer sometimes can be difficult.

Lucky for you, we're here to help homebuyers and home sellers submit a successful counter offer at any time.

Now, let's take a look at three best practices to help you create a successful counter proposal.

1. Consider Your Counterpart's Perspective

If you are buying a home, consider the seller's perspective. Or, if you're selling a house, evaluate the buyer's perspective. In both scenarios, you can gain insights into what your counterpart might be thinking and tailor your counter offer accordingly.

For example, if a house has been available for several weeks or months, a homebuyer should consider this information as he or she preps a counter proposal. By doing so, a homebuyer can weigh the pros and cons of waiting out a buyer's market and craft an effective counter offer.

On the other hand, if a home seller has several offers in hand, this seller may want to consider submitting a counter offer that matches or exceeds a house's initial asking price. With a seller's market in place, a home seller should have no trouble stirring up plenty of interest in a home, even if a buyer rejects a counter proposal.

2. Evaluate the Housing Market

Take a look at the prices of available houses in your city or town. This housing market data can help you differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market – something that may prove to be exceedingly valuable as you put together a counter offer.

Also, examine the prices of recently sold houses that are similar to the home that you want to buy or sell. By leveraging this housing market data, you can evaluate the prices of similar properties and boost your chances of submitting a competitive counter proposal.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're struggling to create a fair counter offer, it certainly helps to consult with a real estate agent.

Ultimately, a real estate agent is committed to helping homebuyers and home sellers achieve their respective goals. This housing market professional can provide a wealth of housing market data to help a homebuyer or home seller craft a viable offer. Furthermore, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased home offer recommendations, ensuring both buyers and sellers can make informed decisions.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying and home selling journey, either. A real estate agent will be ready to respond to a buyer's or seller's questions without delay. Plus, this housing market professional will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure all parties involved in a home sale enjoy a seamless experience.

Ready to negotiate a counter offer? Use the aforementioned best practices, and you can quickly and effortlessly create a successful counter proposal.


A homebuying budget can make a world of difference, particularly for those who want to streamline a house search. If you have a budget at your disposal, you will know approximately how much you can spend on a residence. Then, you can narrow your house search accordingly.

Establishing a homebuying budget can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you do just that.

1. Evaluate Your Finances

Your income and savings can have far-flung effects on your ability to acquire your dream house. If you perform an in-depth review of your finances, you can find out exactly how much money you have available before you launch a house search.

It often is a good idea to consider your long-term finances as you prepare to kick off a house search, too. A house usually is a long-term investment. And if you account for your long-term finances in your homebuying budget, you may be better equipped than ever before to conduct a successful home search.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about different types of mortgages. Plus, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage without delay.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. Of course, if you have mortgage questions, you should address them before you submit a mortgage application. Once you have a mortgage in hand, you can establish a price range for your house search.

3. Examine Your Potential Closing Costs

Attorney fees, house inspection expenses and other closing costs may surprise some homebuyers. Yet if you understand your potential closing costs, you can plan ahead for these expenses.

Closing costs generally range between 2 percent and 5 percent of a house's purchase price. They also may be incorporated into the overall cost of a house. However, if you evaluate potential closing costs early in the homebuying journey, you can account for these expenses in your property buying budget.

As you get ready to launch a house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. This housing market professional understands what it takes to find and acquire a terrific home at a budget-friendly price. Therefore, he or she will do everything possible to help you accomplish your homebuying goals as quickly as possible.

If you want to purchase a house close to your office in the city, for instance, a real estate agent will offer tips and recommendations to help you find a first-rate house in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you aspire to own a home that boasts multiple bedrooms, a real estate agent will help you hone your house search to residences that fall in line with your expectations.

Ready to launch a successful home search? Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can prepare an effective homebuying budget. As a result, you could speed up your quest to discover and purchase your dream house.


Photo by LDprod via Shutterstock

Buying a house is more than the number of rooms and how it is staged. It’s a set of complex systems in a specific location. And while it’s not all about location, that’s a perfect place to start your list.

Where to Buy

Areas and neighborhoods trend for a variety of reasons. If you’re new to a city, consider renting for six to twelve months. That way, you can investigate all the neighborhoods to determine which one is right for you. For example, if you plan to have children, the hot market near the city center might not be best for you. Instead, you’ll want a home in a neighborhood with excellent schools, playgrounds, access to nearby shopping and family-friendly entertainment.

When to Buy

Once you know where you want to live, engage your real estate agent in helping determine when the best timing is. If you can afford to wait until fall or winter because prices often drop, then do so. Or, if you need to get in ahead of the “between school sessions” rush, get your offer in just after Super Bowl Sunday or before Spring Break.

What to Buy

This advice must adjust to your needs, of course, but buy what fits into your budget. Overbuying causes problems down the road when a repair completely busts your budget, and you end up with extensive problems. But don’t buy less than you’ll be happy with either. You need a home that meets your needs for years to come.

How to Buy

Lastly, don’t buy sight unseen or home uninspected. Purchasing a home without really looking at it or requiring a complete, professional, certified inspection can set you up for homeownership failure. Your agent can suggest an inspector to you, or you can hire one from a list of professionals. Pay attention to the notes and suggestions on the inspection and require corrections to any major systems. If you do purchase the home without adding that clause, set aside funds to repair or replace the offending appliance, pipes, wiring or structural issue before it becomes a major headache.

Don’t rely on a seller’s agent to handle the deal. Their responsibility is to the seller, and they are obligated to sell the home for the highest price with the fewest changes, upgrades or repairs required. A buyer’s agent, conversely, advocates for you, the buyer. That means they have your best interest in mind in negotiations, offers and the final outcome. If you’re hunting for a home, engage a buyer’s agent and let them do the heavy lifting for you.


If you’re buying your first home, there are plenty of things that you’ll need to know. Being informed will allow you to avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make. These errors and their remedies can be found below. Don't join the crowd and make an error, know before you buy. 


They Don’t Have Enough Funds


Every homebuyer plans for mortgage payments. Not every buyer plans for all of the other costs that go along with buying a home. Just because you can afford mortgage payments doesn't necessarily mean that you can afford the house. 


There’s so much financially that goes into owning a home. You’ll need to plan for things like home maintenance, insurance, taxes, closing costs, and more. All of this will need to be saved ahead of time in order to buy and maintain a house. Things like property tax and insurance can go up yearly, and these costs can be very unexpected. 


Not Securing A Loan


If you don’t secure a loan first and find the home of your dreams, you could be in for trouble. If you haven’t been pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a home and putting an offer in is a bit riskier. Many buyers don’t realize that they can’t qualify for the amount of loan that they think they can. Getting pre-qualified allows buyers to understand just how much house they can afford. 


Avoiding Real Estate Agents


If buyers go it alone, they are taking a risk. The seller pays the real estate agent fees in a home transaction. You really have nothing to lose getting a professional to help you. From there, your agent can recommend all sorts of professionals to assist you in your home search including lawyers, mortgage companies, home inspectors, and others. It’s essential for a smooth home transaction to work with people who are experienced and know what they’re doing.    



Depleting Your Savings


When you buy your first home, you’re going to need a reserve of cash beyond what you have saved for a downpayment. This cash includes an emergency fund, money for repairs, furniture, new appliances, and other unexpected expenses. If you use all of your savings on a downpayment, you’ll be in a dangerous financial situation. Just make sure you have saved enough extra for a rainy day fund.


Opening New Accounts


Before your loan is closed, you should be frozen- financially frozen that is! Don’t open any new accounts. It can be tempting to head out and buy a new car that will look good in your new driveway or to fill your house with all sorts of brand new furniture, but you should wait. Once you get the keys to your new home, you’re in the clear to spend again and open new accounts. You don’t want to overextend your budget of course. Just be sensible!      





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