Keep Your Home Safe On Vacation!

16222298Warmer weather has arrived and the days are already starting to get longer; this means it’s time to start thinking about getting out and enjoy a little vacation time.  Nothing can ruin the memories of that time well spent like returning home to find a disaster area. Common sense things like turning off water, having mail picked up, and  locking all the doors are easy to remember, but there are some things many people may not have considered.

Here are some things you can do to be proactive in keeping your home safe when you’re out of town.

Save The Status Updates
We know it’s difficult but you might want to save posting those pictures of the vacation until you get back from the trip. Believe it or not, would be evil doers now use social media to see if people are out of town and target their home. If you can’t resist the urge maybe only share pictures via private messages or to selected friends.

Knock Knock!
Of course someone is home! It might not be a bad idea, even if you don’t have pets, to hire a house sitter or talk to a trusted friend about coming over and just spending some time in your home to help make any potential door knockers believe that there is someone home.

Lights!
Burglars often will watch a home for some time and may know your schedule, so they will notice things like a lack of lights on in the house. So, leave a few lights on, or better yet get a timer to have lights come on at dark to give the illusion that someone is home.

What Needs Power
Go through the house before you leave and take a look at what actually needs to be plugged in and what doesn’t. Things like computers, steroes or TV’s that won’t be in use while you’re out can be a big power drain even when not on, worse yet if there is a power surge while you’re gone they might be damaged.

These few things can help keep your home a little bit safer while you’re away enjoying your leisure time. It never hurts to talk to your next door neighbors and let them know you’ll be away so they can keep an eye on the house as well.

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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.

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!

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

rhbr6r99Selling your home can be a real challenge; a unique process compared to buying a home or any other real estate transaction. It can be hard to know what to do and how to progress in the proper manner; it is for that reason that having an experienced real estate agent can make all the difference. We’ve put together a few hot button items to help you steer clear of some of the most common pitfalls when selling your home, but of
course always recommend working with a professional.

Make Sure the Time is Right
Don’t sell before you’re ready. Don’t sell before the market is ready. Don’t sell before the house is ready. Only you can know whether the time is right for you, your REALTOR® should know if the market is good, but you can do a lot on your own make sure the home is ready. Take care of any repairs that are outstanding, especially if they are major, to insure the best return on your investment.

Don’t Over Improve
What you consider an improvement might not be to the taste of the new owner; not all home improvements are the same either – some can return more or less when it comes to monetary value on return. You may love your new bright pink lady lair, but that coat of paint could cost you the sale if potential buyers aren’t so hot on that style. Lastly, if the improvements you choose are costly you may not recover their cost even if you do end up selling the home.

Don’t Play Hide And Seek
Selling a home is much like any other business, it needs to be based on trust and honesty. Considering that, don’t hide any details about your home or your finances that could pop up as potential pitfalls later on. Some less than desirable details about your house may be ill received, and even cost you a buyer or two, but that’s nothing compared to the fallout of having to deal with outraged buyers or even charges of fraud after the fact.

Simmer Down
Selling a home is a process, with a lot of money at stake, and it’s never a good idea to rush into ventures of that nature. Take time to plan not only your sale itself but the steps leading up to the sale – preparing the home, talking to the kids about the move, packing your home, and a myriad of other details. Don’t rush into thing, make sure the agent you choose is a good match for you and also knows the market. A little patience
can go a long way and even in a fast moving market it takes time for the sale itself to be processed.

Sell That Home FAST!

moneyhousingWith low home inventory and steady prices in Idaho already this year, many industry experts are agreeing that 2015 could be the year of the sellers market return.

That being said it doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy move; buyers are being even more particular about the homes they view as they still have a number of options to consider. I’ve put together a few tips to help you get your home ready for buyers and get it sold fast!

Power Up
Consider adding power outlets with USB ports. It’s a minor thing but for today’s tech savvy families this could be a huge selling point.

Clean Up
Get the carpets cleaned by a professional, do the same for your wood floors. Dingy dirty floors are a major turn off and one of the first, most noticeable, elements to any space.

Expand
Don’t be afraid to open up that kitchen space. Open flow designs are all the rage and often with just a little remodel you can really add some appeal to the room that is often considered the heart of your home.

Keep Up on the Yard
Curb appeal is largely made up by your home exterior – especially the landscaping. Now, in Winter time it will be a bit harder to really showcase your lawn but you can do simple things like making sure the hedges are trimmed, and that the side walks and drives are cleared of snow.

Ditch the Wallpaper
Unless it’s something really modern or suited to the entire rest of the house it’s likely a good idea to tear out that old parlor wall paper and go with something more sleek and chic.

Price to Sell
That doesn’t mean undercut your investment, but be sure your home is priced competitively for the market. A great starting point is to have a comparative home market analysis done by a qualified REALTOR. Don’t be afraid to go a little low either, some times pricing a little below market value can entice more buyers and lead to multiple offers.

5 Ways to Bring More Spring Into Your Home!

spring has sprung!Warmer temperatures and longer days are soon to be here! With having just set our clocks to spring forward the change of seasons is almost palpable in the air. The best way to get a jump on things so that you’re not having to play catch-up is to get an early start; so we’ve put together some quick tips to help you bounce into Spring and get your house ready!

Sell Sell Sell!
That’s right! It’s time to declutter and make room for this years fun! The best way to do that is to have a garage sale. Not only will this help you get rid of things you might not necessarily need but you can even pad your pockets at the same time. Don’t just re-stash stuff! Whatever you don’t sell will definitely be appreciated at your local goodwill or thrift store also.

Clean Slate
If the weather is co-operating there’s no law that says you can’t start taking care of the outside of your house too. This might mean pulling weeds early, or cleaning out the gutters and rain spouts. Cleaning is a good idea for the inside of your home too; the beginning of the season is a great time to do those “every once in a while” tasks like moving all the furniture out from the walls and giving everything a good once over.

Pound the Paperwork
Tax season should already have this process started for you, but the first of the year is always a good time to file old papers that you’ve had just laying around, put receipts in their proper place and generally just give the old paper trail a good turn to make sure everything is where it needs to be – toss anything that’s of no use.

Add Some Pop!
Think colors! Think fresh! Think NOT beige! That’s right, adding just a little new paint can work wonders for your home. Whether it be a new color palette for that bookshelf or re-painting the entire room a little bit of color can go a long way!

Shine a Light!
Open the windows, open the shades! On days when the sun is playing nice it’s great to open up some of the windows and just let things air out. It’s been proven too that sunlight has some antibacterial properties – so it can actually help make the air healthier in the process!

Any one of these tips will help you get your home in tip-top shape for Spring and the coming busy Summer season! What are some tips YOU count on to keep things running smoothly?

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.

5 Powerhouse Tips to Sell Your Home

successstory2014 has had it’s ups and downs for sellers and buyers alike, but the real estate industry has finally settled down enough for many to return to consider selling their home. The sluggish recovery in housing starts is impacted by construction costs rising faster than inflation, labor shortages in the building trades, and the difficulty for small local home builders to obtain construction loans. According to the National Association of REALTORS  existing home sales in 2015 are expected to rise to over 5 million.

Here are 5 great tips to help you stay ahead of the trends:

Get Off the Sidelines
For sellers waiting for market improvements, they are here – so jump back in the game if the price is right. Buyers may have already missed the rock bottom deals that were around and that said, the rules have changed a bit; expect higher down payments than we saw in previous years. Sellers too should be aware that many buyers may now have a harder time qualifying as well due to these changes.

Renovate Wisely
Even though renovation and remodeling can add value to your home not all upgrades are created equal. Consider your options before making costly changes that might not actually benefit your selling price. Believe it or not sometimes it’s best to focus on the small things like repainting or minor fixes rather than extravagant builds that may or may not even be to your potential buyers tastes.

Make a Good Impression
Over 84% of potential buyers start their search for homes online, before they even talk to a REALTOR. Investing a few extra dollars from the get-go by paying for professional photos or video of your home can pay of big time in the long run.A REALTOR.COM survey showed that homes marketed with professional quality photographs sold for nearly 12% more than homes with bad or no images.

Don’t Be Afraid to Market
If you’re selling you need to put it out there! Give your agent the go ahead to market your home creatively throughout a number of venues. This includes traditional venues like print ads as well as newer options like social media. Show your listing on the agents website; ask them to blog about it or post it on their Facebook and Twitter pages as well. The internet is a global platform and can exponentially increase your homes exposure to a vast audience.

Little Details Make Big Differences
If you’re a buyer little things can make a world of difference. When you do a walk through switch on the stove, run the faucets, flush the toilets, run the air conditioning and put feet on the ground in the neighborhood. You aren’t just buying the house, you’re buying the area as well so get familiar with it.

Home Staging Myths Dispelled!

stagingHome staging and curb appeal are two of the biggest items on your agents checklist to help get your home to sell fast and at a great price. With so much emphasis placed on these trends it’s a wonder that so many homeowners balk when it comes to incorporating these ideas into their home sales strategy.

It is my hope that we can help dispel some of the myths surrounding home staging so that it makes more sense as the great marketing tool it can be. Here a a few of the most common misconceptions:

Home Staging is Too Expensive.
It’s natural to focus on return on investment when selling your home; of course you want your home to sell for as much as the market will allow. Think of home staging in this scenario: home staging typically costs from .5 to 1 percent of a homes asking price; studies show that staged homes not only sell faster but they sell for more money than those that aren’t staged.

It’s Not Worth it to Stage a Smaller, Less Expensive Home.
Au contraire! Big or small it’s to your advantage to get top dollar for your home and staging can help make that happen. Staging a smaller home can actually be even more important because you can actually show potential buyers how they will be able to maximize the available space to suit their needs.

Staging is Just De-cluttering.
Nope! Staging is about presenting the home in it’s best light. It’s also about styling the home for it’s big photo shoot. Do you think Dolce Gabbana would send their best model onto the runway without at least a once over? Forget it! Your home is the same way! De-cluttering can prove to be a large part of the process – especially if you have a lot of clutter – but it’s not what it’s all about.

Staging is Only Good for Empty Homes.
Think again! While staging is critical to empty homes it is also important to occupied homes because it costs less to do and can still have a huge impact. You definitely want to do some staging on an empty home – furniture alone can help give a better sense of “depth” to a space – but don’t underestimate the impact of small accents added to a room that already is furnished.

Neutralize All the Things!
50 shades of grey? Neutral walls, neutral ceilings, neutral neutrals! Sorry, but good staging is about more than just making everything blend in. A pop of color in the right place can not only show a little unique sense of style but it also can snap your buyers back to attention after doubtlessly being confronted with a legion of plain Jane paint jobs in other homes they’ve viewed.

It can be a challenge just to find a home stager who understands staging is an art form as well as a powerful marketing vehicle for your home. It’s all about creating a space the buyer will fall in love with; when you do that the demand for the home can’t do anything except go up – along with the price!

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!