Category — Uncategorized

Looking for a Bargain? Put on That Winter Jacket and Go Buy a Home Before the Spring Thaw

A new release from RE/MAX emphasizes what we’ve been saying for many years: The winter season is a great time to buy a home if you don’t want to pay top dollar. While areas like Southern California may not see much, if any, of a seasonal price break because of a lack of winter, bargains may await buyers in places that see cold and snow.

Jeff LaGrange, Vice President of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region, explained that, “In the Midwest, homes that go under contract in November, December and January usually are offered by highly motivated sellers. In spring and summer, purchasers may pay a premium because they compete with many other buyers. Less competition in winter means prices typically don’t include that premium, and sellers frequently are more flexible about price and other terms.”

It’s that flexibility that is often key to a successful closing. So how can you use the time of year to your advantage to buy a home? Here are a few tips.

Be ready to negotiate

“When you have fewer buyers in the market, supply exceeds demand,” said The Spruce. “This usually results in prices being lower than during the hot or peak season.”

In northern Illinois, “Chicago-area homes sold in February had a median sales price that averaged 17.8% less than homes sold in June of the same year” over the past 14 years, said LaGrange. But, that doesn’t mean you can lowball and come away with a new home. You never want to insult the seller, who can flat out reject your offer if they so choose. Allowing your real estate agent to guide the process to come away with a good deal for you that doesn’t turn off the seller is key.

Creative negotiating may also help you get the home. Be willing to look at scenarios involving closing costs, repairs to items uncovered during the inspection, and even renting back if needed to help get a deal done.

Be ready to tour a home on a moment’s notice

OK, maybe not on a moment’s notice. But being flexible with your home tours is important in a winter weather-prone area. “With fewer hours of daylight, it may be necessary to visit more homes after dark, a less than ideal situation,” said RE/MAX. “When that happens, it makes sense to arrange a daylight visit before making an offer, and that can involve taking time off work,” said Linda Dore, a broker with RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill, “but it’s worth it.”

Make sure your agent is winter savvy

Vacant homes can throw a wrinkle into any buyer’s plans, especially if a storm has left the home in less than hospitable condition. You never know when you’re going to have to MacGyver a situation. “These days, more homes than ever are vacant when they go on the market, and you never know what to expect,” said Donna Smolak of RE/MAX Vision 212 in Chicago. “Some can be beautifully maintained, but in other cases there can be six-inches of snow in the driveway, the storm door many be frozen shut or the whole home may be winterized with the heat and plumbing out of service,”’ she said. “I always bring a fold-up shovel with me in case a car gets stuck or we want to scrape snow off an outdoor area to check what’s underneath.”

Use your imagination

Vacant homes can also pose a challenge to buyers who lack the ability to envision what the home may look like with their furniture inside. But buyers are notoriously bad at seeing past paint colors or décor in any home. Especially when you’re dealing with a home that may not be everything you want, it’s important to try to look beyond any poor decorating choices or even some curious floorplan issues to see what the home can be.

Remember that if the house were perfect, it would either be more expensive, would have been sold quickly in the spring or summer, or both. Try to focus on things like overall space, ceiling height, and natural light. That will help you see the potential in the space and plan for changes once the home is yours.

Keep the goal in mind

Buyers in the winter often “have a real need to buy quickly, perhaps because of a work-related relocation, the arrival of a new baby or dealing with a divorce,” said Dore. It’s easier to let the small stuff go if you remember what you’re trying to achieve. And if that doesn’t work, think about: “This year they should have an added incentive as mortgage interest rates are likely headed higher in 2019.”

 

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/buyersadvice/item/1022398-looking-for-a-bargain-buy-a-home-before-the-spring-thaw?rtmpage=

 

December 12, 2018   No Comments

Holiday Hosting Tips for First-Timers

Hosting a holiday meal or party for the first time this year? It’s a rite of passage, and one you’re probably particularly excited about if this is your first year in your new home. Naturally, there may also be some fear tied up in all that excitement. After all, successful hosting is a skill that’s honed over many years.

Don’t fret. You can skip the rookie mistakes by paying attention to these top tips.

Don’t try to do everything yourself

The key to successful hosting is knowing when to say “when,” and accepting help when it’s offered. Remember this when you start to worry about delegating too much: just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to have fun, too. Plus, if you spend the whole time in the kitchen, your guests won’t get to see you—and that defeats the purpose of them coming over in the first place.

Do what you can ahead of time

If everything you’re serving needs to be made at the last minute, you’ll likely be a stress ball standing over the stove and cursing the sauce that won’t thicken up while your guests are having fun in the other room. When you’re doing the menu planning, pay attention to items that allow you to do the cooking, or at least the prep, a day or two before. It’ll save you time—and save your sanity—on the day of the shindig.

Don’t try to be Martha Stewart

Nobody expects you to be the perfect hostess and chef and interior designer. Your friends and loved ones just want something to eat and drink among good company. If your lack of fancy dishes—or even matching dishes—is giving you a pre-party eye twitch, keep this in mind. “Use what you already have! Say you have a mixture of odd plates—scatter them and try to have a common thread,” said Domino. “For example, if the plates are all different, have the same matching napkins. If you have mismatched glassware, try alternating matching ones at each setting. Try to be mindful when you’re setting a table to find a balance visually for your guests, but things don’t have to be perfect.”

Don’t be overly ambitious

It’s natural that you’d want to show off your cooking skills or try something new to impress your guests. But that might not be the best tactic for your first time hosting.

“When you’re hosting at your home, it’s smart to scale back and stick to what you know,” Kathleen Schaffer, creative director and culinary chef at Schaffer as well as a celebrity caterer to clients including Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney, told The Knot. “In other words, this isn’t the time to attempt the fancy sous-vide or soufflé recipe you saw on Facebook. Set yourself up for success by playing to your strengths, and most importantly, planning and preparing in advance.”

But keep the food coming

You never want your guests to start getting grumpy because they arrived hungry and dinner is delayed. Having a spread of appetizers everyone can nosh on buys you time to get the main dishes together and keeps them satiated. This “cream-cheesy salsa of fresh cranberries, cilantro and a little jalapeno kick” is one of our favorite holiday apps, and not just because it’s incredibly easy to make. You can find more ideas here.

Remember that you can never have too much toilet paper

This is the kind of thing you might overlook while you’re shopping, and you definitely don’t want to have to run out in the middle of your gathering—or, even worse, bring in the dreaded roll of paper towels. While you’re buying plenty of TP, do the same with napkins, plastic cups and silverware, and bottled water.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Someone is going to spill something. Or drop all the crackers on the floor. Or break a chair. Or all of the above. Keep your sense of humor closeby and you’ll get through it with stories to tell later on. If that fails, consider downing another glass of wine.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1022706-holiday-hosting-tips-for-first-timers?rtmpage=

 

December 12, 2018   No Comments

Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 6, 2014. Housecall continues to share this piece due to ongoing requests and reader interest.

There are many questions homeowners ask themselves during the selling process. “How much will my home sell for?”  “How much should I list my home for?”  “Who should I select as a real estate agent to sell my home?”  “What if the real estate agent overprices my home?”  Last but not least, “Is this a good time to be selling a home?” is also a very common question that real estate agents are asked.

As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons, and choosing when to sell a home is no different. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before deciding when to sell a home. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold. This is the furthest from the truth. Certainly most real estate markets across the United States experience a “spring market rush” every year. There is no doubt that the “spring market” is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for many reasons.

Here are several reasons why choosing to sell your home now may be a better decision than waiting until the spring:

Less Competition
One way that you can tell the spring real estate market has arrived is by driving down a street in your local community. In all likelihood there will be For Sale signs up all over the neighborhood! One great reason to sell your home now and not wait until the spring market is there is sure to be less competition.  The fewer number of comparable homes for sale, the greater the probability that a buyer will look at your home.

Simply put, it’s the supply and demand theory. If there are less homes for sale, there are less homes that a potential buyer can choose from, therefore increasing the demand for your home. Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.

Serious Buyers Are Out There
Homes are sold and bought 365 days a year, period!  Many homeowners believe that buyers aren’t out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there!  Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is.

The fall and winter months are also a great time for a potential buyer to see what a specific neighborhood is like.  Do your neighbors have pumpkins on their front step?  Are there lots of Trick-or-Treaters wandering the neighborhood on Halloween?  Do any of your neighbors have any light displays for the holidays?  There are buyers out there who will look at these types of things when determining whether your home is in the right neighborhood for them or not.

The Best Agents Are Always Up To The Challenge
Any real estate agent who tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home! A great real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that.  A great real estate agent can make suggestions and give some of their tips on how to sell a home during the fall or winter seasons. If a real estate agent doesn’t have any suggestions on making your home more desirable for the current season, you should be concerned about the creativity they are going to use when marketing your home.

Staging For The Holiday Season
Many sellers believe staging a home is the main reason a home sells.  While staging certainly helps sell homes, some buyers have a difficult time envisioning themselves in a home no matter what you do. However, there are some buyers who can easily be “sold” on a home because it is staged.  Simple “seasonal” staging such as adjusting the color of the decor or having an aroma in the air that is relative to the time of year can go a long way with some potential buyers and possibly be the difference between a home selling or not.

Quicker Transactions
Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring.  The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have less loans to process, attorneys have less closings to do, and home inspectors have fewer inspections to do.  All of these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and closing for all the parties involved.  One of the most frustrating things for a seller to deal with while selling their home is not getting answers in a reasonable amount of time. A quicker transaction is going to be less stress for you.

By considering all of the reasons above, you will be able to determine whether now is a good time to sell or if you should wait until the spring.

 

Written By Kyle Hiscock

Source: http://blog.rismedia.com/2014/sell-home-now-wait-spring/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email#close

 

December 12, 2018   No Comments

The Best Black Friday Deals for Home

TVs and iPhones and Xboxes, oh my! Yes, it’s Black Friday time, and that means you’re probably making plans to get some great deals on popular electronics to gift this year. But don’t miss out on the chance to gift yourself, and your home, too. Black Friday is a great time to focus on improving your place, whether that means making some quick updates to the bedroom or making a large furniture purchase. Here are some of the best deals we found for home.

65″ Sharp 4K Roku Smart TV—Walmart, $398

There are tons of great deals on TVs this year, but if you’re looking for a big one without a big spend, this 65” Sharp TV from Walmart is your winner. “The best TV we found to fit a $500 budget is this 65″ Sharp 4K Roku TV from Walmart, where it’s a Doorbuster,” said Brad’s Deals. “We do expect it to be available online, but it may sell out quickly at this price. Walmart’s Black Friday sale launches online on Wednesday November 21, 2018 at 10pm EST.”

Samsung Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator—Home Depot, $998

That’s a whopping 44% savings on this fridge from its former price of $1,864.

Dyson Ball Animal 2—Best Buy, $300

Vacuum cleaners may not be sexy, but don’t miss the chance to get one now if you’re in need. The prices are great on everything from the lower-end stuff to the big ticket suckers. For our money (and mainly because multiple children and animals live in this house), it’s all about the Dyson. “This upright is a highly ranked model in our ratings, and performed wonderfully at cleaning bare floors,” said Consumer Reports. “It also earns an Excellent rating for its ability to suck up embedded pet hair in carpet in our tests. It’s not the cheapest upright you’ll find, but at $200 off, it’s a solid deal for a top-performing Dyson upright.”

Google Home Hub with Google Assistant—Best Buy, $99.99

Save almost $50 and get connected (or give someone else a boost into the land of Smart homes) with Google Home Hub.

Everything!—IKEA—$25 off $100

You can take your pick of IKEA favorites this Black Friday. From November 22–26, you get a blanket $25 off your $100 purchase.

Amazing sheets—Brooklinen, discounts starting at 10 percent

Brooklinen has basically achieved cult status for its super-soft sheets, and they’re offering a stepped-up discount for Black Friday. Save 10 percent on $250, 15 percent on $350, and 20 percent on $450 across the site from November 23–26.

Canvas and framed art—Art.com, 50 percent off

Get half off everything site-wide on November 23.

Instant Pot—Target, $69

This kitchen fave is marked down from $99 at Target, plus you’ll get a $10 gift card to boot. This Doorbuster is available starting Thanksgiving day at 5pm.

Serta 16-inch raised queen-size airbed—Target, $60

How thoughtful of Target to put this airbed on sale just before your family arrives for the holidays! You’ll save $40 on this great deal.

 

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1021913-the-best-black-friday-deals-for-home?rtmpage=

 

November 19, 2018   No Comments

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: 7 Tasks to Tackle Before Temperatures Dip

Once autumn’s chill is in the air, we don’t think twice about swapping our tank tops for sweaters and stocking our pantry with pumpkin-spice everything. So why wouldn’t we prepare our houses for the chill, too?

Yes, that first freeze can often take us by surprise, leading to major headaches and thousands of dollars in repairs. So before you start stuffing your bookshelves with decorative gourds and planning the best Thanksgiving dinner your in-laws will ever eat, take a swing through these simple fall maintenance tasks. We promise a little prep work now will help keep your home running smoothly all season long.

1. Prep your pipes

The term “winterization” is a bit of a misnomer: Yes, you’re prepping your home for winter, but the hard work needs to happen in autumn. And that’s especially true when it comes to your pipes.

DIY: “Shut off all faucets and valves, and drain any outdoor piping, like sprinkler systems, before the temperature drops,” says Jane Li, a senior project manager at Mercury Insurance. To be extra careful, Li recommends putting away any outdoor hoses and wrapping socks around outdoor faucets.

Call in the pros: If your winterization efforts uncover a leaky pipe, hire a plumber to fix the mess before the temperature drops. On average, a plumber will cost $300, but a broken pipe could run you upward of $5,000, depending on how much water damage there is. In other words, consider this money well spent.

2. Keep out the critters

Just as you’ll spend more time indoors when the weather cools, rodents and pests will seek out a warm place, too—like your home.

“Mice especially are flexible little creatures and can get through holes that aren’t much bigger than a dime,” says Karen Thompson, an editor at InsectCop.net, which researches and evaluates pest-control products and methods.

DIY: Take a tour of your property, seeking out any cracks that might let a critter sneak inside. Seal any openings with spray foam or steel wool.

“As a bonus, doing this will let you not only avoid rodents, but also ants and fleas,” Thompson says.

Call in the pros: If there’s evidence these pesky little guys have already infiltrated your space, consider bringing in a pro. An exterminator will charge between $90 and $250 for an initial consultation, and costs will scale from there depending on what you need.

3. ‘FALL’-proof your space

Whether you’re getting up there in years or frequently hosting elderly parents, use the fall season to prevent, um, falls.

“Falls make up almost one-third of all nonfatal injuries in America, and a little prevention can go a long way toward keeping you safe,” says Jason Biddle, who runs The Helping Home, a resource for aging in place.

DIY: Use the “FALL” mnemonic to make sure your place is slip-proof:

  • Floors: Scan your floors for fall risks. Look for clutter, slippery stairs, and loose rugs. Add sticky padding to prevent slips.
  • Activities: What does your daily routine look like? You might need grab bars in the shower, or a second handrail by the stairs.
  • Lighting: Is your home bright enough to see any potential hazards? “A well-lit home can help [you] avoid tripping on dining table legs, floor planters, and out-of-sight power cords,” Biddle says.
  • Leaving: Examine your porch and outdoor paths. Are there any broken steps or overgrown shrubs that might trip you up when leaving your home?

Call in the pros: Your home might require a major aging-in-place adjustment, like installing a lift or wheelchair ramp. Costs for a motorized stairway lift start at $3,000, and a wheelchair ramp could run $1,500.

4. Remove or cover your air conditioner

Unless you live in the desert or the deep South, you probably don’t run your air conditioner during autumn. But you might be letting your system waste away if you leave it sitting out in the elements all fall and winter long, which can damage the fan and coils.

DIY: “Window units should be removed, covered, and placed in an area like the garage for safekeeping until they’re needed again,” says Richard Ciresi, who runs Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. Outdoor AC units should be properly covered.

Call in the pros: If you’ve noticed your HVAC system running sluggishly all summer, now’s a great time for an inspection, which will probably cost a little more than $300.

5. Check the fireplace

Your wood-burning fireplace has been sitting dormant for months now. Make sure it’s good to go before you light it up

DIY: Before getting your fireplace inspected, make sure you’re not putting any living things in danger.

“Check the top of the chimney for areas where birds may have nested,” Ciresi says. But check local laws first: It might be illegal to relocate active nests. Once the birds have moved on, however, you can break up the nest freely. (Just be sure to wear gloves.)

Call in the pros: Most chimney sweeps can help break up a nest, too. Besides, you’ll be needing their help for another fall must-do: sweeping the chimney. A professional inspection and sweep will cost between $100 and $250.

6. Prep your firewood pile

Nasty pests like carpenter ants or termites love hiding out in your firewood. Don’t let them hitch a ride inside.

DIY: If you’re building a firewood pile this autumn, make sure to keep those logs at least 20 feet from your home.

“This ensures that even if the wood has pests, they are less likely to transfer from the wood to your home,” Thompson says. Firewood should also be elevated during storage, which makes it even more difficult for bugs to sneak inside the wood.

Call in the pros: If you spot termites in your firewood pile, call in the pros before hauling a single log inside. Treating a local infestation might set you back $150.

7. Switch your ceiling fans

Your ceiling fans are designed to cool you off during the summer—but they also serve a need during the chilly seasons.

DIY: “Many people don’t realize the difference made with the simple reversal of your ceiling fans,” Ciresi says. “Hot air always rises, and ceiling fans are uniquely designed to direct airflow exactly where you need it most.”

Every ceiling fan has a switch hidden on its base. When the mercury level drops, flip that switch so the fan is moving clockwise.

“This updraft allows hot air to get pushed down into your rooms,” Ciresi says. “This is especially useful in rooms with very high ceilings.”

Call in the pros: Pay attention to your home’s temperature on chilly days. Are you still cold? Consider an energy audit, which will cost about $400—but may help you save tremendously on your energy bills over the next few years.

Written By

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/fall-home-maintenance-checklist-2018/

 

September 21, 2018   No Comments

How to Make Your Garage a Storage Powerhouse

Garages often turn into repositories for everything from sports equipment to holiday decorations. But with planning you can turn your garage into a harmonious space with room to actually — wait for it — park the car.

Project length: From consultation to installation, this kind of project could take three to five weeks, Scott says.

Permit: “Unless we are doing something structural or adding electricity, no permit is generally needed,” says Scott.

Written By
Source: https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/21310417/list/how-to-make-your-garage-a-storage-powerhouse

August 6, 2018   No Comments

Rising Interest Rates Have Not Dampened Demand

Rising Interest Rates Have Not Dampened Demand

Since the beginning of the year, mortgage interest rates have risen over a half of a percentage point (from 3.95% to 4.52%), according to Freddie Mac. Even a small rise in interest rates can greatly impact a buyer’s monthly mortgage payment.

First American recently released the results of their quarterly Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), in which they surveyed title and real estate agents across the country about the impact of rising rates on first-time homebuyers.

Real estate professionals around the country have not noticed a slowdown in demand for housing among young buyers; nearly 93% of all first-time homebuyers last quarter were between the ages of 21-35, with the largest share of buyers (51%) coming from those ages 26-30.

First American’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming had this to say,

“On a national level, mortgage rates would need to hit 5.6%, 1 percentage point above the current rate, before first-time homebuyers withdraw from the market.”

So, what is slowing down sales?

According to the last Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, sales are now down 3.0% year-over-year and have fallen for the last three months. If rising interest rates aren’t to blame, then what is?

Fleming addressed the cause, saying that:

“The housing market is facing its greatest supply shortage in 60 years of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The ongoing housing supply shortage will make it difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to buy, even when they are financially ready.”

Bottom Line

First-time homebuyers know the importance of owning their own homes and a spike in interest rates is not going to keep them from buying this year! Their biggest challenge is finding a home to buy!

Written By: KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2018/07/11/rising-interest-rates-have-not-dampened-demand/

July 13, 2018   No Comments

5 Smart Strategies to Pull Off a Fast-Paced Military Move

If you’re a service member, you know that when things happen in the military, they happen fast. And that’s especially true for prospective buyers during a Permanent Change of Station, or PCS—when you’ll suddenly be buying a house and making a hurried move to a community you know little or nothing about.

Without the luxury of time to stroll through open houses and compare neighborhoods, you might feel uncertain whether you’re making the right decisions.

Don’t worry! There are a few things you can do to help yourself nail this fast-paced move—with no regrets.

1. Find an agent who’s experienced with military moves

Although any real estate agent can help you with a military move and Veterans Affairs loan, it can help to work with someone who knows the process inside and out.

A real estate agent who specializes in working with military buyers understands every step of your home-buying journey—from checking that a home has the VA-designated Minimum Property Requirements to making sure closing is a breeze.

To find the right agent for you, start by checking for specialized certifications such as Military Relocation Professional® or Military Residential Specialist. You can also ask another veteran for a referral, or get help from Veterans United Realty to find a pro.

And remember: Nothing is as important as asking potential agents how they’ve handled military purchases in the past—and how they’d handle yours.

2. Have your paperwork in order

As soon as you get your PCS orders, make sure to get a mortgage pre-approval in hand.

This crucial document gives you a clear picture of your buying power so you don’t fall in love with a place you can’t afford. Plus, a pre-approval can give you a leg up, proving to the seller that you’re both willing and able to purchase the home, says Realtor® Bobby Middleton with Texas Premier Realty in San Antonio.

But even if you’ve been pre-approved, don’t assume you’re good to go, Middleton cautions.

“Pre-approval doesn’t mean that your lender won’t check your credit again,” he says, warning would-be buyers not to open a new credit card to buy appliances, or to ignore a credit card payment in the chaos of moving. Middleton’s seen a number of cases where an approved loan went south at closing when a buyer’s credit was checked again.

You’ll also want to get your Power of Attorney finalized, in case you aren’t able to be present for key events, like closing. Talk with your lender about the type of power of attorney you might need.

3. Make good use of technology

Once you’ve nailed down your budget, it’s time to start searching for homes. This is where things can get tricky—but they don’t have to be.

Use an online home search to narrow down the homes that check all your boxes and your budget. Then ask your VA-savvy agent to check out the properties—and take you along for the visit. Thanks to the magic of video-chatting apps (like Skype and FaceTime), being out of market doesn’t mean you have to purchase a house “sight unseen” anymore.

“My client might say, ‘Show me what the pantry looks like or how big the kitchen really is,’” Middleton says. “We go through the house with such a fine-toothed comb that they feel like they are there; it can be almost as good as an in-person view if you take adequate time.”

Even if you’re able to swing a visit, an early video tour will help you rank properties so you can spend extra time in the houses you like and not waste time on the nonstarters.

In addition to the house tour, try using Google Earth, recommends Twila Lukavich, a Realtor® with ProSmart Realty in Peoria, AZ.

“This tool truly gives you a real-time, bird’s-eye view of the street and the neighbors’ homes that surround the house that interests you,” Lukavich says.

4. Do some homework

Sure, driving the streets and talking to neighbors are an important part of house hunting. But doing some research might give you a better picture of key details—and make you feel like you’re almost there.

Your first stop should be the city’s chamber of commerce website, Lukavich says.

“The majority of them will have a section with information on the area that will help you get a feel for the community—from what sorts of shops and services are available to what local events they host,” she says.

And make sure you do your homework on the community’s crime stats, sex offender registries, and any other details that might be of concern; because of the Fair Housing Act, your agent actually isn’t allowed to answer these kinds of questions.

Don’t overlook the local schools—even if you don’t have kids now, the reputation of the school district has direct bearing on your future resale value. Check out GreatSchools for information on everything from test scores to school diversity and experience level of the teachers, Middleton suggests.

Finally, if the home is in an HOA community or a master-planned community, look for a Facebook or Nextdoor community page.

“There is no better insight to a community than a localized social media page,” Lukavich says.

5. Factor in time to sell your current home

Make sure you’re not so laser-focused on buying that you forget about offloading your current home.

“While selling a home is no easy task for anyone, it can be even harder when you add the stress of being active-duty and ordered to relocate to a new area within a very short timeline,” Lukavich points out.

If you’re not in a seller’s market, you might have to make a few concessions to move your home fast: Price your home to sell. Be willing to negotiate. And spend a bit of money to stage it and make it look irresistible (this is especially important if you’ve already moved and your home is vacant). You can even try writing a personal letter to potential buyers explaining the reasons you bought the home, including the amazing neighborhood, schools, and any other amenities that stand out to you.

Finally, put your house on the market as soon as you learn you may receive PCS orders to a different area, Lukavich suggests.

“You can note in the listing that the sale is contingent upon the sellers receiving the actual PCS orders,” she says.

 

Written By

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/home-buying-military-move-tips/

 

May 21, 2018   No Comments

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits mdsprinklers.com

Things are heating up and school is winding down. That mean’s summer is right around the corner. But it’s not all flip-flops and sunglasses and smiles. Summer is also hot and sweaty and often expensive when you’re trying not to be hot and sweaty, or you just want your home to run more efficiently. There are things you can do and changes you can make now to save money this summer.

Have your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets looked at

You could have sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not working at all, which could harm your grass and cost you money to replace it. Leaky outdoor faucets could also be costing you in increased water bills.

Do a leak check inside

Cold air escaping and hot air intruding – it’s the reality of many a home, and not only can it make you feel uncomfortable, it can make your air conditioner work overtime. “For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy audit, particularly a blower door test,” said the U.S. Department of Energy. “A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks.”

Do an appliance check

Have a mixer, blender, and knife sharpener plugged in on your kitchen countertop? How often do you really use any of these items? The more you unplug, the less energy you use.

Have your A/C unit checked and serviced

Not only do you not want your air conditioning to conk out in mid-summer when it’s blasting hot outside, but you also want to make sure you catch little issues before they become giant, expensive ones – and before you’re A/C guy books up. “There are two main reasons to schedule annual air conditioner maintenance with your local HVAC contractor: saving money and saving money (no that isn’t a typo),” said HomeAdvisor. “For starters, you greatly increase the chances that your A/C technician will catch small problems before they become big ones by schedules regular check-ups. Repairing a small refrigerant leak shouldn’t cost much more than the service call. Buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current one out, however, can cost a thousand dollars or more. The other way an annual check-up saves you money is by ensuring that your A/C unit is working at optimal efficiency. When your A/C is running well it uses less energy to cool your house, and lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills.”

Remember to change your filters regularly, too. According to Energy.gov, “The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”

Use the toaster instead of the oven

The heat from the oven can raise the temp in your home, causing your air conditioner to turn on. Using smaller appliances – your slow cooker is another idea – can help keep the temperature lower. Even better, use your outdoor grill, instead!

Cover up

Windows that are exposed to afternoon sun can heat up the house quickly, undermining your A/C and making everyone in the house uncomfortable.

“Air conditioning is blissful during the summer, but running it nonstop during a heat wave will have you cursing when you get your utility bill,” said Consumer Reports. “Fortunately, clever use of blinds, curtains, and other window treatments can help keep your house cool and your bills in check. The Department of Energy says that smart management of window coverings can reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent.”

Cover up inside and out for the best protection. “Studies show that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gain by 33 percent, according to the DOE. Because of the horizontal slats, it’s difficult to control heat loss through interior window blinds, although they do offer some flexibility. Unlike shades, you can adjust the slats to control light and ventilation. When completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent, says the DOE. They can also be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling, which diffuses the light without much heat or glare.”

Outside, consider solar screens, or awnings. “Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows, according to the DOE.”

Turn up the temperature

That goes against the whole “keeping the house cool” thing, right? But, if you can stand it, a few ticks up on the thermostat can lower your costs. “According to Energy Star, almost half the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Even making small adjustments, such as turning up your air conditioning by only one degree, can make a huge difference,” said Huffington Post. “For each degree you reduce your air conditioning, it’s estimated you’ll save 3 percent on your utility bills. You can also save money by using a programmable thermostat. When used correctly, a programmable thermostat saves the average family $180 per year.”

Get a learning thermostat

Unlike old-school thermostats that you can program for different times and days, products like Nest actually learn from you, and your house, which can then save you money. “Why should you have to figure out your thermostat? The Nest Thermostat learns from you,” said Nest. “Just turn it up and down for the first few days. The Nest Thermostat will get to know the temperatures you like and when you like them. Then it programs itself and creates a schedule for you. The Nest Thermostat even learns from your home and figures out how it heats or cools, because no two homes are exactly the same.”

Add insulation

The upfront expense will will pay dividends later when your energy bills go down. “Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent,” said Real Simple.

Written By Jaimi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1017243-20180514-summer-savers-9-things-you-can-do-now-to-protect-your-home-before-the-heat-hits?rtmpage=

May 16, 2018   No Comments

Buying a House? Here’s Some Advice You’ll Hear—and Should Totally Ignore

Buying a house? Then you’ll no doubt hear tons of advice from people who’ve been through the home-buying process before and want to pass their sage wisdom onto you. Problem is, sometimes the advice that “everybody knows” is right isn’t.

Fact is, housing markets change over time—and the rules vary widely based on where you’re looking to live, along with lots of other specifics. Just so you can keep your eye peeled for the home-buying advice you might hear that could lead you astray, here are common tips to take with a grain of salt.

‘You can save money by buying a fixer-upper’

Sure, shows such as “Fixer Upper” make it look easy, but rest assured, purchasing a run-down home and turning it into something special “is not for the faint of heart,” says Dan Bawden, former Remodelers Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

“If you have no knowledge of renovation, it’s a lot riskier,” Bawden says. Unless you’re an experienced remodeler, he suggests getting an inspection with estimates from a remodeling contractor before you buy.

Even if you have the ability (and time) to do the fixing up necessary, or have found a reliable contractor who can do the work while staying within your budget, you have to factor in the time you’ll be paying the mortgage and bills without being able to live in the home. Six months of paying rent on top of your house payment can quickly eat into what you saved on your “great deal.”

Bottom line: For the inexperienced, the line between fixer-upper and money pit is perilously thin. Make sure the stress of a remodel is worth the savings.

‘Foreclosures and short sales are bargains, too’

Short sales and foreclosures are often not the deals they appear to be, especially for inexperienced buyers.

“In this market, even banks want to get top dollar for their properties,” says Melisa Aponte, a real estate agent with the Keyes Group in Miami. “People can overpay for a property and still have to go through all the hassle of doing the work on it.” This is especially true for people using FHA loans, which have strict requirements about the condition of the homes they are used to purchase.

It’s difficult for novices to know what they’re actually buying, explains Dillar Schwartz, a real estate agent in Austin, TX. “The price tag may be fair, but the damages are often severe and the room for negotiation is limited.”

With foreclosures sold at auction, you’re buying the property as is: You can’t even go inside before purchase. Is that really a risk you’re willing to take, however great the price is?

‘Always buy the worst house on the best block’

On the face of it, this seems like good advice: Pick the ugly ducking in your area, and the higher value of surrounding homes will elevate its value, which means your home’s price has nowhere to go but up! And that’ll be great when you’re ready to sell.

Still, though, what if you don’t want to live in the “worst house”?

While it’s important to think about resale value, most buyers aren’t real estate investors; they’re people buying a home they’re going to live in. Even on the best block in the world, a home that’s too small for your family or that has other deal-breaker qualities is not going to be a good fit.

It’s better to find the right house in a less expensive neighborhood. After all, in a few years, your neighborhood can change, trees will grow, your neighbors’ landscaping could improve, but your house isn’t going to sprout another two bedrooms.

‘You need a neighborhood expert’

Of course you want an agent who knows the area, but do you really need a neighborhood expert? What on Earth does that even mean?

“I think it’s kind of a fake term,” says Schwartz. “Most cities aren’t as divided as you think.” In fact, working with a neighborhood expert can hurt your search if your agent doesn’t suggest properties in more than one small area.

Even if you think you know for sure where you want to buy, “there may be other opportunities out there that are a better fit, and for a better price,” says Schwartz.

She suggests looking at how many clients an agent has worked with overall as a measure of expertise, not just how many homes the agent has found in a certain neighborhood.

“Beware of reading too much into a designation,” she warns.

‘Cost per square foot gives you an apples-to-apples comparison’

Sure, looking at the price per square foot can help you compare properties of different sizes, and is often used as a benchmark for prices in a neighborhood. But that metric can be misleading.

“Price per square foot isn’t always the best data to make an investment decision off of,” says Schwartz.

That’s because there are many very important factors that don’t show up in that number. For example, you’re looking only at interior space. For real apples-to-apples comparisons, you need to consider the yard, garage, unfinished basement, and anything else that doesn’t qualify for the “official” square footage. It also doesn’t take into consideration the number of bathrooms and bedrooms (only the size), or the condition of the home. Price per square foot is just part of the story.

The most important thing to remember when you’re buying a home is that nothing is universal. Advice that makes sense in one market could be absurd in another—which is all the more reason to work with a real estate agent you trust and feel comfortable asking questions. Here’s more on how to find the right real estate agent in your area.

 

Written By

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/buying-a-house-advice-to-ignore/

April 16, 2018   No Comments