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!

Avoid These 5 Home Selling Mistakes!

home_houseMany homeowners have an ideal in mind when it comes time to put their home up for sale on the market.

Sold within days and at well over market value being the top of that list…and while it certainly can happen, it is the rare bird to find. Regardless of how reality based your vision of the home sale process may or may not be there are in fact a few things you can do to avoid making it any more difficult than it needs to be!

Don’t Hire the First Realtor You Meet.
(Unless it’s me!) All kidding aside, you really should shop around a little before choosing an agent to work with. Talking to family and friends who own their homes and find out who they worked with is always a good place to start. As you will be working closely with this individual, possibly for a period of time, you want to make sure you select someone who fits your needs.

Not Paying Attention to the Market.
You need to know what’s going on in your area. Are home prices in your neighborhood up or down? What’s the average price for a home with your homes features? These are all things a good agent can help you keep tabs on.

Don’t Ignore Your Agents Advice.
You hired them for a reason. They’ve worked in the industry and understand the market, and while you are in the drivers seat you would do well to heed the counsel of someone who’s been down this road before.

Don’t Hide Things.
Throw rugs over stains, furniture in front of your kids crayon masterpiece…these are all items you want to take care of before you go to sale. Don’t try to hide defects in the home from your agent or prospective buyers – it will only come back to haunt you in the end.

Don’t Over Price.
Everyone wants a good return on their investment…but the market only bares what it bares. Consider all the factors involved with setting a price and then be reasonable. Listen to what your agent has to say and if you do decide to go a little high stay positive – even if it takes longer to sell.

These simple tips can help your home selling process go a lot smoother no matter what your expectations going into it may be.

Winter Tips for the Home

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Old Man Winter made his appearance in a big way!

And while those in some parts of  Idaho are seeing a small respite this week there’s no denying that the cold months have finally arrived and may be settling in for a stay. There are a number of things as existing or new home owners that can help you maintain your home through Winter and protect your investment – these tips will even benefit renters as they can help you keep your energy costs lower as well.

Reverse your fans!
If you have vaulted ceilings especially, you may want to consider reversing your fans and cause them to spin clock-wise in order to direct warm air downwards where you can get more enjoyment from it.

Tune up that furnace!
A lot of us don’t think about it until we turn on the heat for that first time and get “the smell”. Well, that smell could in fact mean it’s time to get your ducts cleaned and heating systems serviced. These minor maintenance calls are usually far more affordable beforehand than after there is an actual issue.

Get in the gutters.
If it hasn’t frozen yet, or you’re experiencing a brief second spring it never hurts to get those gutters nice and open to handle the extra flow of water from snow melting and packing in. Consider adding a short extension to your downspouts also in order to keep ice damns from building up around the house.

Stock Up!
With the holidays getting into full swing it’s a good time to make sure you’re stocked up on the essentials. Not just TP! Make sure you’re cupboards are well supplied with lots of soups and coffee. Keep plenty of snow-melt in the garage for keeping the walks clear and take a look at your snow shovel or blower in case they need to be replaced or serviced — once the big snow flies it can be next to impossible to find a good shovel.

Dodge the drafts.
Check your windows – you can use a lit candle to see if the flame moves – and make sure there are no drafts. If you have older windows consider replacing them with newer better insulated ones. Large windows, sliding, or french style doors can also cause a lot of heat loss so consider insulating them with even a layer of plastic or store-bought insulation.

4 Ways to Bring More Nature Into Your Home

green home happy home
It’s not just hippie Earth mother stuff!
Scientific studies have shown that flowers and plants can help reduce stress as well as improve our moods. Believe it or not some 27% of people who buy flowers but them for themselves!

With that in mind, why don’t we have more of what’s outdoors indoors where we can appreciate it more? Often it’s time, or know how, or just that keeping plants living and thriving can be a lot harder than most people think. Regardless, if it’s something that you’re interested in doing here are some ideas to help do it well!

Start Small
Start a container garden! Grow small flowers and plants that don’t take up a lot of room or commitment. They are easy to put in a vacant window sill and they can really brighten your view! Simple containers are easy enough to buy at any dollar store and dirt…well, it’s DIRT cheap!

Pick a Corner
Pick a corner of your room or desk and consider these plants which do well indoors:

Spider plants – work well for hanging baskets and is very low maintenance.

Lemon Balm – a great low growing herb with a wonderful scent!

Philodendron – lush and green…and almost impossible to kill, a real bonus for the negligent gardener.

Peace Lily – how zen! A fairly low maintenance plant that loves shade. Perfect for nurturing the greater good!

Bees and Butterflies
If you plan on keeping your flowery adventures outdoors, like on a patio, think about welcoming some fluttering guests! Plant flowers that butterflies and bees enjoy in order to have a few extra guests to look forward to. Plant things like lavender and russian sage further from your home to encourage bees to keep a fair distance. When attracting butterflies think color! They’re usually attracted to red, yellow, pink, purple and red. To keep butterflies around, stagger your plants so that when one stops blooming, another one starts.

Flowers on Demand
Well. Not everybody has a green thumb. If you find yourself unable, or unwilling to grow your own plants and the ones from the store just keep dying you can always just order flowers from the shop. Make a nice area for them and change them regularly, or consider alternatives like silk flowers or a hard bonsai to bring a little nature inside!

What A Little Paint Can Do!

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Many people are quick to tell you that a fresh coat of paint is an easy and cheap way to make your space seem brand new; to some extent that can be very true! You can really change the whole way that a room makes you feel by changing up the color palette…but that’s where the cheap part of the equation falls away, as anyone will tell you buckets of color don’t exactly come for free these days!

 

 

So here are some ideas that you can try that only use a single can!

Be BOLD.
Rather than paint an entire area, consider stripes! Even more brave? Go PLAID! Think patterns, think visual interest; you just may be surprised to find that you’re a trend setter!

Fuchsia It.
Whoa nelly! Them’s strong words! FUCHSIA?! In a day and age where everyone cautions you to play it safe, stay with neutrals, which may be good if you’re thinking of selling soon, but otherwise why not punch up the palette a little?

Make Mold.
No, not bread mold.
Consider crown molding, or if you’re lacking on install skills or budget paint it in instead. You can add an amazing amount of depth and texture just using paint in the right places.

Go Retro.
You might not want to get involved in a full on paint project for the entire room, so consider just hitting up some of the furniture instead. You can create some really nice distressed looks or change the focus of the room by giving an old dresser or wardrobe a new look.

Hit the Roof!
A starry ceiling looks great in the kids room; just laying some contrast color on the ceiling of a room can really turn the look around.

These ideas should get you on the fast track to claiming your space without spending a lot of cash! Hop on Pinterest and search out even more great ways to bring a little more color into your home!