Homeowner Emergencies: What You Should Know!

It’s not something any new homeowner wants to think about. EMERGENCIES!

The ink on the paperwork is just barely dry and you finally got all the stuff moved in…when disaster strikes!

And to be fair, emergencies happen when we least expect them so it’s not a matter of if so much as a matter of when something unforeseen will arise in your new home.

The thing to do is to be prepared – so we’ve put together some tips to help!

Black Out
Whether it’s somebody up the street digging or a big storm blowing through, power outages are one of the most common things you will deal with as a homeowner. Make sure you have candles as well as several flashlights readily available and with working batteries on hand. Keep your refrigerator closed – you can’t tell how long the power might be off and you don’t want food to spoil. It doesn’t hurt to have a few gallons of purified water on hand as well as a small propane fueled heater for winter time.

Lock Out
Oops! Lost the keys, or left them on the counter and locked the door on your way out. It happens, you get locked out of the house, but a little pre-planning can be a life saver! There is of course the old tried and true hollow rock method of hiding a key in a nearby flowerbed. Alternately you might consider leaving a spare key with a *very* trusted friend or neighbor.

Water Woes
These can come in many forms from busted pipes to water heater troubles or even betrayal from your trusted dish washer. Whatever the cause the first immediate cure should be simple: Turn Off The Water! Turn it off at the source — usually near your water heater. Once that’s done you will be able to assess the situation and contact a plumbing professional if their help is needed.

Kitchen Fire!
Fire is one of the most terrifying things a homeowner might face. First, do not panic! Keep a box of baking soda on hand as it can be used to extinguish many small flare-ups. For stove top flames NEVER USER WATER! Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and do not open it until the flames have had  a chance to die down. A fire extinguisher is good, but educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them as not all are good for grease fires and may even cause the flames to spread!

Above all cool heads will prevail! Whenever something happens take just a second to think first, stay calm, and then act. Over the course of a lifetime in a home unexpected emergencies are bound to happen, so be prepared! Keep a list of emergency numbers right on the fridge – ask your agent, they likely can get you one!

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Home Tips For Fall!

homeleavesThe embers of Summer time are slowly cooling and fading to memories as the golden leaves of Fall explode into color.

All that flowery talk doesn’t change the fact that Fall time means the list of home improvement projects exponentially increases as the days get shorter and shorter! To aid in your progress from crunching leaves to crunching chips on the couch we’ve put together this great checklist of home improvement tips for Fall.

Start At The Top
Examine your roof. Roof woes are bad any time of year but you definitely don’t want to have issues when old man Winter comes a howling down the pass in mid-December. If you roof is in poor shape talk to a professional to see what needs to be done in order to get it in tip-top shape.

Get Your Mind In The Gutter
This is the old tried and true has to be done every year task that most people know about, even if they don’t remember it. Truth is it’s not something to overlook! Leaves and gunk can clog up your gutters leading to overflow and possible water damage.

Stop The Draft
Go from window to window with a lit candle and hold it around the edges of your windows – doors are much the same way also. If you see more than a little flickering chance are you have drafty windows and could be losing heat from your home – increasing energy costs over the long months. You can easily buy caulking or other products to seal windows yourself, or talk with a professional handyman to get it done up fast.

Spend Time In The Yard
Running over the yard for that last of the season trim isn’t where it ends! Take a little extra time in the yard to cut back overgrowth, tidy up fallen leaves, or even to re-mulch the beds. Don’t forget about removing outside hoses from the house and closing foundation vents if you have a crawlspace. Taking a few minutes now can save you time when Spring comes!

Home ownership means continually maintaining your home. Cooler temperatures and the change of seasons make a great reminder that it’s time to evaluate and make any needed repairs – or desired upgrades! – before the snow flies. Being a great REALTOR® means more than just shuffling paperwork – we strive to build relationships that will last long after the signatures dry. Contact me today to find out how I can help your house feel more like home!

Selling Your Home? Here’s Things NOT to Do!

home seller helpThe market is heating up and with the prospect of selling a home is looking very enticing.  As with any major change, it’s not something to be rushed into, and while it’s easy to start dreaming of where the next chapter of your life will take you there are some very real things to consider to make sure it’s a smooth transition. Everyone knows the basic things like prepping for staging and curb appeal, but here are a few things you might want to NOT do that may not have crossed your mind.

Don’t Hide Things
Now, we’re not talking about tucking the kids toys into the closet or hiding the dog bed when guests come over. This is more about not hiding problems with the home, like cracked foundations, mold, or other real issues that potential buyers will need to deal with. Not only is it dishonest, but it only serves to be a problem issue later when they get the home inspect and it’s found out.

Don’t Over Price
Look at other similar homes for sale in your area, and of course talk with a real estate professional about the market conditions. These are the two best ways to gauge the price you should be selling your home at; your agent should have good insight into the perfect initial price. Don’t worry if they mention reducing the price in a few weeks – this tends to be fairly common in the market.

Don’t Hire The First Realtor You Find
Don’t just type ‘find a realtor’ into google and go with the number one result. Who knows, they may be awesome, but it’s wise to at least check around a little bit to find the right real estate professional for you. Look at not only their experience and track record but also how they interact with you – you will after all be spending at least a decent portion of time with this person, it’s best if you enjoy each others company.

We hope these tips will help you steer clear of these potential pitfalls! It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of a change of life, especially once the process has started, but one sure way to stay on the right path is to work with a REALTOR® you can trust.

Best Kept Home Buyer Secrets

home buyer helpEverybody loves a good secret, a little wink wink inside tip, that in itself is no hidden knowledge.

Buying your first home can be really intimidating and first time home buyers are often full of questions, never having experienced real estate from the inside before; whether your new to the process or an old buying pro we’ve put together some good insight and guidelines to help you get the most for your dollar.

Keep It In Your Pocket
One of the worst things you can do when you’re considering buying a home is to start spending money. In fact, it’s likely wise to put a hold on big expenditures before you even begin looking for a home. Not only will you need all those funds for closing costs, moving, and other things but large purchases – specifically with credit can reflect poorly when it comes time to qualify for a home loan.

Get Pre-Qualified
Boom! Biggest, likely best thing you can do. Talk to a lender – your agent should be able to recommend a few – and see what you’ve got going on in the finance department and see what you still need to take care of. Getting pre-qualified for that home loan will take a lot of the hassle and waiting out of the first part of your home purchase; also keeps you from running around looking at houses that aren’t within your price range.

Don’t Play Romeo
It’s easy to get excited and emotional about the idea of a new home – especially when you find one that is just THE perfect one – but check your emotions at the door. Emotional buying at the market is bad, emotional buying a home can be devastating. Emotions change, your lifestyle will change, and so it’s important to look at your potential new home with a practical eye.

Always Get An Inspection
No, really. ALWAYS. Not having the home inspected is akin to buying a car site unseen without even sitting behind the wheel – much less taking it for a test drive. A home inspection can help you spot major issues as well as minor ones and will save you a lot of pain in the pocketbook.

Bid Boldly, But Be Smart
This isn’t a market for the feint of heart! Big boldly but understand your bid should be based on two things: how much you think the home is worth and how much home you can actually afford. Look at what other homes in the area that are similar have gone for and use that as your metering stick. Don’t be afraid to give a non-round number as a bid either, whether it’s a Jedi mind trick or just science, for some reason sellers often like an odd number as it stands out from all the typical offers they’ve received.

The best advice that’s no secret at all of course is to work with a qualified real estate professional who puts your needs first and listens to what you’ve got in mind. Haven’t found on yet? Get in touch!

Tips to Maintain Your New Homes Value

dollasMany first time home buyers get a big surprise when their home values are different than what they thought they might be; unfortunately it’s rare to buy a home and have it’s value automatically climb with inflation or the market itself.

This is not to say that your home value cannot appreciate, but rather that it doesn’t generally happen overnight. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to help your new home hold it’s value over time – here are some tips to get you on the right path!

Fix Drafts
A drafty house is an inefficient house! Whether it’s Summer or Winter having your HVAC working double time just to keep up with temperature leaks can be a real money drain – when you live there and when it’s time to sell. Find and fix drafts throughout your home to insure that you’re not spending too much on energy costs and to help keep that home value stable.

Regular Ole Maintenance
It seems mundane and ordinary but the run of the mill stuff – that a lot of people just don’t pay attention to – are most often the things that can end up leading to costly repairs if not properly managed. This includes cleaning gutters, changing air filters, and having the furnace serviced – all common things to make sure you keep tabs on.

Landscaping and Curb Appeal
It’s easy to overlook the lawn, even though you walk by it every day, and believe it or not your yard plays a big role in your resale value. Many would-be buyers can be turned off and turned away if the curb appeal isn’t up to snuff. Turns out landscaping is one of the updates you can make to your home with the most return on investment.

Don’t Skimp On The Big Stuff
Need a new furnace? New roof? New Floor? Chances are unless you’re a contractor you don’t have the skill set needed to truly to those big jobs right; doing them wrong can be absolutely disastrous and cost you even more money by needing to have someone come back in and do it right. So don’t skimp! Hire a professional, chances are your agent knows several they can recommend.

Leary about selling? Not sure if the market is ready? Not sure if YOU are ready? Good news – we can help! Get in touch today to find out how a qualified real estate professional can help you avoid pitfalls and make the right choices throughout your next move!

Real Advice for First Time Home Buyers

homeraceSo you’re just getting settled into the first new home of your own; as might be expected you’ve learned some valuable lessons during the process of making it yours.

Now, there are plenty of “10 Tips for Home Buyers” out there on the internet, so we won’t bore you with more of those, but what about the things you need to consider that aren’t typical?

Here are a few things that most first time buyers don’t even consider:

Make a Checklist
Buying a home can be an emotional process; ideally you would set those feeling aside to make the most logical decisions. It never happens, but it would be ideal – so a good way to help fight the effects of the inevitable is to make a list of things you want in your new perfect place. Organize it with Must Haves, Would Be Nice, and lastly No Big Deals – this will make it easy to visualize the home you want and clearly asses which items may or may not be deal killers. Print this list out and keep it with you when you’re out house hunting – if nothing else it will keep the important features of your potential home in front of you.

Think Long Term
Thinking long term in home ownership means thinking re-sale. Thinking re-sale means thinking about VALUATION, so consider all the factors that go into improving your home and how easily they can be accomplished. Also, your needs as homeowner will change over time as well; your job may change, you may have kids, or other more unexpected life changes that might not fit with the ideal home you start with.

Grill the HOA
Find out the facts about the Napoleonic authorities that will be governing the home you worked so hard to own. In many cases these over-powered authorities can make your time in your new home difficult at best – and their word is law – so it’s definitely a good idea to find out as much about the HOA organization before you buy. Some might say it may be an even better idea to choose a community that does not have these sort of antiquated restrictions on how you can live in the house you’re paying for.

Don’t Get Upstaged
Houses are often staged for sale in order to look more appealing, and while there’s nothing underhanded about the sellers wanting to present the house in the best light you do need to look through the glamour. Realize that as nice as the house looks now that the furniture and everything else you see will be gone when you move in. Dispel the staging and instead visualize how your own furniture and accessories will fit the home.

The Legends Are True
There are a lot of old adages about real estate…location, location, location of course and buy the view not the house are common. Lesser known axioms that can truly be life savers include: have an emergency fund! Save for your down payment of at least 20%, and start saving early on. Don’t buy more home than you can afford, and avoid large purchases (especially on credit) right before you start house hunting.

The last most obvious tip of course is to work with a qualified and experienced real estate professional. Your REALTOR® will do much more than just shuffle the paper work for you — although believe us you’ll be glad to have them around for that too! If you’re thinking of buying, or are just starting to look don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out how we can help you!

Reasons Why FSBO’s Fail (And Why You Need A Realtor!)

Home-SoldEveryone wants a good deal. Unfortunately that’s the reason many homeowner’s take the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route instead of hiring a real estate professional. Either they think it will save them money, save them hassle, or they are just confident that they can navigate the process on their own. Fact is, there are some really good reasons why many FSBO efforts fail; they are the same reasons you like should work with a qualified REALTOR®.

Too Many People To Deal With
A person can only handle so much. You’re already dealing with getting the house ready to show, possibly still finding a new place, packing…and then you’re going to meet with the buyer, the buyers agent, your bank, the home inspector, the appraiser, and maybe even an attorney? It’s a full time job just keeping up!

Homeowner’s Don’t Know The Market…or How to Market…
Do you know the median home value for your area? Are you knowledgeable in the best ways to market and advertise your home for maximum return? There are any number of things that need to be taken care of before you even list your home; a good agent should know all of them.

The Process
There’s a lot more to selling a home than just putting a sign in the yard. Even after you’ve found a qualified buyer there are further challenges like the home inspection, home assessment and what to do about them – surprises lurking in your foundation or attic could kill the deal before it even starts. Speaking of qualifying buyers: that’s one of the biggest parts of the deal – just finding people not only interested in your home but who are financially able to buy it.

The Paperwork
This item alone should be caveat enough. Familiarity with the paperwork is essential and not knowing the correct processes can sink a sale quick! The sheer volume of the paperwork itself is another factor as well, not to mention that much of the paperwork itself must follow very specific timelines.

The old adage is true: Many hands make light work!
And considering that you’ll almost need to be in multiple places at once, besides having a familiarity with the system that only comes with experience, a skilled real estate professional is an invaluable asset when it comes time to sell your home.

Scary Real Estate Red Flags

old-manor-1231905The things that go bump in the night may be a very real concern, unfortunately you may not find out about them until you’re moved in and spending time in your new home. No, we’re not talking about restless spirits – although hopefully that’s in the disclosure statement somewhere! – we’re talking about the hidden boogies in your new home that may cause REAL nightmares.

Now, of course hopefully, you’ve done due diligence and worked with a professional REALTOR® who no doubt insisted you have the home inspected before any serious offers were made….right? No? *queue scary music*

If you’re already in your own Amityville horror these tips may be too late, but if not there are a few things you can do to spot likely problem areas in the homes you’re looking at to bust those bad listings! Here’s a few key things to look for:

Mediocre Maintenance
Chance are if there’s plant life growing out of the gutters there are other maintenance and upkeep items that may have gone unchecked. Look for signs like these to determine how much of a headache you might have in store.

Fractures
Especially in the foundation of the home. Visible signs of walkway warping and out-right cracks in the foundation wall are a big concern as repairs of that sort can be extremely costly.

Trust Your Nose
It could just be something funky. Everybody’s house has a different smell after all…but trust your nose. Musty, lingering odors can be a sign of a bigger hidden problem like mold or even resident vermin.

Faulty Wiring
You’re not an electrician probably, but go through and make sure to look at all the wall sockets as well as turn lights on and off in all the rooms. Any popping sounds or flickering could be a sign that there’s more going on.

Fresh Paint
Seems like kind of a weird warning sign, right? Especially since it’s pretty common to slap on some new paint when getting ready to sell a home. Fact is however it’s also a great way to hide flaws and problem areas! Hole in the wall? Cover it with construction paper and paint over it. Mold? Paint will cover those stains as well. Look for stains bleeding through, sagging ceilings, or even just ask why they painted the room.

So be conscious of potential hidden problems when out looking at homes, you can eliminate a lot of potential problem homes before you get your heart set on the location. Always, always, always get your potential new home inspected by a professional with a history of experience — your agent should know several.

Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Right NOW!

cabinetsNo, seriously, do it. Do it NOW!

The kitchen is often thought of as the heart of the home; no one can argue that especially as the holidays get close it’s one of the busiest rooms in the whole house! That being the case it should be of extra importance that it look good and function as well as possible. A large part of the appearance of your kitchen of course are the cabinets. The cabinets in your kitchen really set the tone of the room – it’s too bad so many people choose drab over fab. If your conscience hasn’t already gotten the better of you here are a few more reasons to paint those cabinets!

Your Kitchen Is a Dungeon
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit overboard…but seriously, if your kitchen is dark and scary who’s going to want to spend time there? Dark colored cabinets that are old or dreary have got to go. A reflective surface for your backsplash will help further, by bouncing light around the room to make it feel more spacious. Think bright, light, and welcoming!

It Looks Like A Set From Starsky & Hutch
SOLID! But you don’t want to be superfly! If you’ve got old wood paneled or just out-dated looking cabinet styles in your kitchen it may be time for them to go. A coat of paint can take your cabinets from “meh” to masterful in just a day.

It’s Easy!
That’s right! It’s EASY! And that’s reason enough right there. A little sanding, and a little paint can really go a long way towards not only sprucing up your cabinets but also breathing new life into your entire kitchen. When it comes to bang for your buck painting your cabinets is among some of the most affordable ways to drastically change the feel of a room.

Great Kitchens SELL.
Period. End of statement. If there is one room in your home that can make or break the sale it’s the kitchen. If it’s perceived to be too small, or unwelcoming, it just might be the deal breaker that keeps your home from moving off the market and getting you maximum return for your dollar.

Whereas a complete renovation may cost too much, take too much time, or just be more than you want to deal with, painting your cabinets can really turn things around in a big way for not a whole lot of dollars out of pocket. Whether you’re looking to update your exiting home to sell or need to find a new place to call home get in touch – I know the local area and can help make your move the right one!

Is a Tiny House Right for You?

moneyhouseYou’ve likely seen the TV show or heard someone talking about the latest home trend: Tiny Houses. There’s even a local home builder in Nampa Idaho who specializes in these new micro-homes! While down-sizing is one of the latest things to sweep the world of real estate, and some of the designs are quite cute, you’ve got to really consider a few things before jumping into a mini-house.

What is a Tiny House anyway?
Tiny Houses feature living spaces as small as 90 square feet, with overall home sizes generally being under 900 square feet in total. Some are permanent structures, while others sport wheels or trailers for easy relocation. The emphasis is on activities and a lot of your actual living outside the home and using less space for “stuff”.

Will it all fit?
The biggest adjustment is just the difference in available room. Storage can become a large part of the creative process in these reduced space homes and new homeowners for this style of living must consider the difference between what things are necessary and what things might just be clutter.

You don’t have to skimp.
Despite what you may think these tiny homes offer anything but spartan amenities. Many high end small homes include exotic woods and materials throughout; the real difference is just in how much room you have.

While generally these small houses aren’t ideal for large families the appeal for younger home buyers, and older couples who are finding their empty nests a little too empty, is easy to see. So much of the things we need in our lives for happiness all happen outside where we live anyway; there are many seeing this as a way to live a more free lifestyle.

Big or small it’s not hard to find great homes in our state! We invite you to search to find exactly the right place for you!