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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
May 21, 2018

How Will You Ring In National BBQ Month?

 

It's National Barbecue Month, the time to celebrate flame-grilled foods and the great outdoors. Whether you enjoy backyard burgers with family and friends or you're a vegetarian with a penchant for travel, there are so many ways to celebrate this month that fit your unique culinary style and tastes.

Here's some grilling inspiration for your family meals, social gatherings and adventures with nature.

 

For the entertainer: Throw a backyard barbecue bash with friends and neighbors and prepare all the favorites: burgers, ribs, corn on the cob, watermelon and more. You can even ramp it up with a smoker or pizza grill. Just make sure you test your new tools out before the big day, and be sure to have enough charcoal or propane on hand.

For the vegetarian: Meat-free barbecues are more common than you might think. Aside from tofu dogs and black bean burgers, your guests can also enjoy portabella burgers, stuffed chilis rellenos, baked potatoes or veggie skewers from the grill. Peaches and pineapples also make for great grilled desserts.

For the family: Plan a nice home-cooked outing just for the family. Have everyone pick their favorite main course, and get all the kiddos involved in the prep work and cooking. You can even invest in some monogrammed branding irons to make family grilling even more special.

For the nature lover: Take your celebration on the road, and head to the beach or a campsite to enjoy your meals with nature. Bring along a portable grill, ingredients for s'mores, comfy chairs and your favorite sleeping bag to celebrate under the stars.

As long as you've got great food and great company, you can't go wrong celebrating May with meals prepared on a grill.

 

Posted in Home Tips
May 16, 2018

CREATE AN EVACUATION PLAN FOR YOUR PETS

 

An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids, but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan.

Assign pet evacuation to an adult. Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.

Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily.

Practice your plan. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!

 

Be prepared in case you get separated from your pets. No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area.

 

Posted in Home Tips
May 8, 2018

How To Store Hockey Gear In The Garage

Keep your hockey gear organized. Here ares some tips from ProStockHockey.

Click arrows in the bottom right corner to expand full screen

Infographic created by Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey store offering pro stock hockey equipment
Posted in Home Tips
May 2, 2018

5 NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT KILL A SALE

 

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

 

 

1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.

 

2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.

 

3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.

 

4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.

 

5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.