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Sept. 10, 2018

MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR HOMEOWNERS

 

 

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

 

  • Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.

 

  • Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.

 

  • Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.

 

  • Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.

 

  • Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

 

Posted in Home Tips
Aug. 24, 2018

Hire an Agent When Building a House

 

 

Many homebuyers think they don't need to hire an agent when building a new home. After all, you're buying directly from the builder and they already have contractors, lenders and inspectors. Why should someone else be brought into the mix? 

The truth is, buying any home without an agent can be a costly mistake. It can mean paying more than you should, missed opportunities for upgrades, contract errors that aren't in your favor or a delayed closing.

Thinking of buying a new construction home? Here are three reasons to have an agent on your side before visiting the sales office:

1. Expert Negotiation: While their advertising would have you believe otherwise, builder's prices aren't always set in stone. Agents are skilled negotiators who can likely get the price dropped slightly or have a few upgrades thrown in.

2. Preferred Vendors: Your builder might have an affiliate mortgage lenderor title company, but chances are they aren't going to offer the best deal. It's important to shop around, and what's better than a vendor your agent already knows and trusts?

3. Guidance and Support: The homebuying process can be complicated, with lots of twists, turns and steps along the way. When buying new construction, you also have design reviews, electrical work and other construction needs. An agent can guide you through all of these, making sure your purchase stays on track, on time and on budget from start to finish. 

It's important to note that while you may be working with an agent or representative from the builder, they may not have your best interests at heart. Enlisting your own trusted agent can give you an advocate from the very first meeting to closing day.

Are you interested in buying a new construction home? Get in touch today for more info about builders in the area.

Aug. 14, 2018

PRIORITY TASKS FOR YOUR MOVE IN

 

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

 

Change the locks

Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

 

Steam clean the carpets

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.

 

Call an exterminator

Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.

 

Clean out the kitchen

If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

Posted in Home Buying, Home Tips
July 26, 2018

Seller didn't hire an agent? Here's why you should.

 

Homes that are for sale by owner -- when a seller decides not to hire a listing agent -- are more common than you might think. They account for about 8 percent of all home listings currently on the market. If you're on the house hunt, you're likely to come across one in your search.

What's different about buying one of these homes? What can you do to leverage the situation to get the most for your money? Here are four things to keep in mind.

1. Hire an agent. Since the seller doesn't have an agent, it's vital that you do -- if only to ensure the transaction is handled correctly and legally. An agent will be knowledgeable about market conditions and can help you craft your offer, prepare the contracts and find the right lender to work with.

2. Be ready to negotiate. These homes are rarely priced appropriately. Sellers typically overvalue their homes due to their emotional attachment to it. Having an agent on your side gives you access to comparable sales data to help you negotiate the right price.

3. Get a home inspection. The owner may not know that they are legally required to disclose known issues with the property, and that oversight could mean costly repairs down the road. A home inspection can shed light on potential problems before you go through with the sale.

4. Add contingencies to your contract. Contingencies give you an exit route should something go wrong during the transaction. If you can't get a loan, you're unhappy with the inspection results or the appraisal doesn't come in at the sale price, you have a way to back out and save your money.

Want to be prepared for your new home purchase? Get in touch today for help on making the best decision for your budget and goals.

 

July 12, 2018

4 Things to Put on Your Moving Checklist

 

Moving can be hectic. With dozens of to-dos, a tight timeline and a growing pile of boxes, it's easy to get frazzled and let things fall through the cracks. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Get organized now by making a checklist to work from. Set deadlines for the most critical tasks like hiring movers, renting a storage unit and turning on your new utilities. Aside from packing up room by room, make sure your list has these often forgotten items, too:

Forward Your Mail: The post office makes it very easy to ensure your mail gets routed to the right place, at least for the first year after your move. Just head to a local branch or go online to update your address with the date you'll be moving, and your mail will automatically forward.

Measure and Decide: Take a measuring tape to your new home and jot down the measurements of each wall and nook. What furniture and decor will fit in your new space? What won't? It's better to make decisions about what to donate or sell before moving day

Refill Prescriptions: It may take a bit to get your prescriptions forwarded to a new pharmacy and even longer for you to find the time to pick them up. If possible, get your prescriptions refilled ahead of time from your current pharmacy.

Back Up Your Electronics: Back up your computer and phone to the cloud, and make sure you've uploaded all your photos and documents somewhere safe. In the event something happens to your devices during the move, a backup will get you up and running faster.

Are you ready to make a move? Whether you're considering selling your current home or thinking of finding a new one, get in touch today for help and resources to guide you through the process.

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
June 29, 2018

5 Types of Home Inspections to Know

 

Most buyers and sellers know that a home inspection is an essential part of the purchase process. But in real estate, there's more than just one type of inspection to consider. In fact, there are dozens. 

Whether you're purchasing a new home or investment property, selling your current home or trying to build equity in the house you're already in, here are the top five inspections you should know about.

Prepurchase inspections are the most common. They include a full assessment of a property's systems and structure, and they offer the buyer a full report of any repairs or issues that need attention. The buyer can use this report as a negotiating tool to have the seller address any repairs before closing or to lower the sales price to reflect the necessary repair costs.

Prelisting inspections are performed to give sellers a checklist of repairs to consider before listing the home. They can also help them gauge how much to list their property for, given its condition.

Feature-specific inspections are performed on a home's various features or systems. Some examples include inspections for swimming pools, septic tanks and wells.

Termite or wood-destroying insect inspections are needed if wood-eating pests are common in your area. Damage from these bugs can lead to costly repairs. Often, a buyer's inspector will recommend a termite inspection if they see specific signs of damage.

Municipal or COO inspections are required by municipalities to show that a newly constructed home or a home that has undergone major renovations is fit for occupancy. A municipal inspector will focus on the home's electrical, plumbing, building and fire code compliance to issue a certificate of occupancy.

Get in touch today if you'd like to learn more about a specific inspection process and how it could impact the value of your home.

June 27, 2018

FIVE MONEY-SAVING GREEN UPGRADES

Going green is great for the environment, but that’s not the only benefit. When you make green upgrades in your home, it can also lead to some major savings.

 

1. Solar panels: The upfront cost is big, but the long-term savings are huge. Solar panels will cost several thousand dollars to install, but ongoing maintenance costs are very low, and a typical system could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can even sell your surplus electricity.

 

2. Wood furnace: Wood-burning furnaces are relatively inexpensive, and though the yearly savings aren’t as dramatic (about 10% on heating bills), it adds up over the long run.

 

3. Insulation: There’s a good chance your insulation isn’t very efficient, especially in older homes. Look into installing floor, cavity, wall, and loft insulation to reduce your heating bills.

 

4. Rain barrels: Rain barrels are extremely inexpensive, and provide gallons of free water to use when you wash your car or water your garden.

 

5. Geothermal system: OK, so the price tag is scary at first. A geothermal system uses the earth’s temperature to heat and cool your home, but can cost $30,000 to install. But tax credits allow you to get a lot of that money back, and the energy savings average about $1,900 per year. If you plan to be in your home for a decade or two, it’s a great investment.

Posted in Home Selling, Home Tips
June 13, 2018

Your Checklist of Crucial Home To-Dos

 

Cleaning the gutters and weeding the garden are tasks that come with regular, visible reminders. But how do you keep up with other necessary maintenance that might not be as noticeable? 

Here are some essential home maintenance tasks that are often overlooked.

Appliances: If you want your fridge, dryer and other appliances to last you for the long haul with fewer repair calls, they need regular care and tuneups:

  • Change and clean the refrigerator drip pan
  • Wash your dryer lint screen
  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator
  • Change the water filter on your ice maker

HVAC Systems: Your heating, cooling and ventilation systems need consistent upkeep for better performance, which can help keep your energy bills lower throughout the year:

  • Clean the ducts and vents 
  • Clean or change your AC filters
  • Replace worn weatherstripping to help keep cool air in
  • Test your thermostat to ensure it's sending a signal 

Plumbing: Snaking the drain for a few hair clogs isn't enough to keep your plumbing system in working order. Be sure to also take care of these things:

  • Flush the water heater
  • Check your pipes for leaks
  • Test the water pressure on your sprinkler system
  • Check water levels on boilers

Safety Systems: To ensure your loved ones and belongings are safe in the home, do the following:

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test your security alarms and codes
  • Inspect your fence or gate for holes or vulnerabilities

Keep this checklist handy and run through it every few months to keep your home in top condition and your loved ones safe. Get in touch today if you'd like to talk about other ways you can help safeguard your investment. 

Posted in Home Tips
May 30, 2018

How to Safeguard This Big Investment

 

Purchasing a home is one of the largest financial commitments you'll ever make, and it's understandable to want to protect your investment throughout the purchase process. When you're ready to make an offer on a home, adding a contingency to your contract can give you time to assess the property and feel confident that it is a sound investment.

Here are five contingencies that can safeguard your investment:

1. A financing contingency ensures you're not on the hook if something goes awry with your loan. If you're unable to secure a mortgage or the terms and conditions change significantly during the contingency period, you can back out without any penalties.

2. An inspection contingency gives you a set time frame to have a professional home inspection done on the property. Should issues be found, you can negotiate with the seller to make repairs or adjust the sales price to account for the home's condition. 

3. An appraisal contingency protects you if an appraisal comes in below the sales price. When this happens, it's up to you to make up the difference, either by securing additional financing, paying it out of pocket or renegotiating the deal. If none of these methods work, the contingency allows you to back out without losing your earnest money.

4. A home sale contingency is crucial if you're selling an existing home while buying a new one. Essentially, it says your purchase relies on your ability to sell your current home by a specific date. If you haven't accepted an offer in that period, you can withdraw and get your earnest money back.  

5. An occupancy contingency protects you should you need to move into your new home by a specific time. It gives you possession of the home on the date you specify. 

It's no secret that today's housing market is a competitive one, and bidding wars can be intimidating. Get in touch today to ensure that your bid stands out and your investment is protected. 

May 22, 2018

Home Changes That Affect Insurance

 

Homes often grow and change alongside the people living in them. If you've added expensive furnishings or made substantial upgrades, it's important to re-evaluate your homeowners insurance and make sure your policy reflects those changes. Here are four instances when it may be beneficial to review and adjust your coverage.

 

Remodeling or Renovation Work

Home improvement projects typically increase the value of your home, which usually calls for more coverage. But that doesn't necessarily mean your insurance rates will automatically increase. In fact, some projects, like adding a new roof, may help you save on your monthly home insurance premiums. Just be sure to notify your provider before any work begins.

 

Adding a Pool or an Outdoor Trampoline

Because these fun home features come with increased risk of injury, they're labeled an attractive nuisance. Upping your liability insurance can help keep you protected if there's ever an accident on your property and a subsequent lawsuit.

 

Acquiring New Valuables

Whether you inherit them or purchase them, expensive goods such as jewelry, art, rugs and antiques should be added to your policy. Increasing your coverage is the only way to safeguard them in the event of damage or theft.

 

Starting a Home Business

Many home-based business owners don't realize they have little, if any, coverage from a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Since a new home business likely means purchasing new technology and expensive equipment, you may need to get additional protection.

 

You worked hard for your home. Secure your belongings by updating your coverage to match your circumstances.

Posted in Home Selling