Home Buying: Things Your Real Estate Agent Wishes You Knew

real estate marketingBuying real estate isn’t like much else in the world. No other purchase requires as much forethought or demands as much consideration before undertaking.

You simply do not casually take part in it the way you would buying a cup of coffee, a new tv, or even a car; yet it is also one of the types of transaction that generally you don’t do very often, so it’s hard to really get adept at it unless you’re in the business.

Thankfully that’s exactly where a qualified and experienced real estate agent will come in! But even if you have the very best agent there are still some things you can do to be well informed before the home buying process begins, here’s some ideas to get you started.

Learn About The Area
If you’re moving across town this isn’t such a big deal, but if you’re moving across country you may want to take a little more time. Visit the area to get familiar with it geographically and use the internet to study local amenities and find where important things like your work, hospital, and grocery stores are located. Your agent can likely help here as well!

Know What You Can Afford
For most money doesn’t just grow on trees and as such some homes you like just may not make sense financially. While you don’t necessarily needs to know an exact figure having a ball-park idea of what you can afford in a home is a good place to start. Thankfully, this too is something your agent can help you with!

Trust Your Agent
A lot of times the best thing is just to let your agent work their magic. It can be easy to misstep and say the wrong thing around sellers, to get indecisive in regards to whether one house is more right over another, and sometimes trying to be helpful can actually be a hindrance. So talk with your agent, understand their plan and your part in it, then let them do that voodoo they do so well — it is after all why you sought out their help!

These quick tips will help you get off to a great start, and your agent will likely appreciate them too! If you’re still looking for a home, or need to sell your current home please get in touch to find out how we can help you!

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REALTORS®: More Than Just Finding Homes

It’s no secret these days that just about anyone can get online and search for homes anywhere in the country. You’ve likely even seen tv commercials showing how easy it is to do even from your phone. So why do people still need real estate agents?

A truly qualified agent will do more than just give you a list of homes, they should be a qualified professional with insight into the market who can help you navigate the real estate transaction process with greater ease as well as understanding. But what are some other reasons you might want to work with a professional?

Comfort
Buying or selling your home is one of the biggest decisions in your lifetime and it often involves major changes to living situations as well as finances. Real estate can seem like a treacherous undertaking, especially if you’re a first time buyer or seller, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won’t be facing it alone is worth it’s weight in gold — just like a good agent is!

Knowledge
Whether you’re buying or selling an agent familiar with the industry will be invaluable throughout the process. Offers, counter-offers, amendments, all of these steps can be overwhelming to take on alone. Even just knowing where the prices are in the market and how to negotiate will be well worth a commission when it brings you greater return on your investment.

Resources
This is especially important for sellers! A full time real estate agent will have marketing resources you yourself couldn’t hope to have on call without huge cost. They will be able to list your home, showcase it on their real estate website, share it on social media, and do many other things to get your home not only sold more quickly but generally for a higher amount. For buyers? You’re not left out either! An experienced agent will likely have many personal contacts and other options for finding you the perfect place.

These are just a few of the things many people don’t consider when thinking about buying or selling their home; it’s easy to understand – if you’ve never dealt with real estate before you can’t understand the value of a real estate experts experience. Don’t let hesitations keep you from reaching out to a Realtor® in your area with questions, you may be surprised to find how much easier working with a local pro can be!

Sellers Market? BUYERS MARKET!

92297_1081You’ve likely heard by now that we’re in the middle of what industry experts like to call a “sellers market”, and while it’s very much true that right now is a great time to sell your home there are a number of reasons why it’s also an amazing time to buy!

How can it be both?
Granted, sellers are especially motivated right now because of low inventory and high demand – which almost guarantees a better return on their investment – but even with prices likely being higher there are still some great benefits to buyers.

It’s About Timing
Compared to last year home buyers are more ready to buy now. With the cold Winter months and the uncertainty of the elections out of the way many people are feeling more comfortable with finances.

Supply Vs Demand
Home inventory is low right now; even if there wasn’t a rush on listings their general scarcity adds a sense of urgency to the market. What if the home you want gets a better offer? This drives a lot of potential buyers off the fence and to the signing table much faster.

The Sky Is Falling
Many would be mover-uppers and potential home buyers are motivated right now because they’re afraid the mortgage rates are going to go up – and they likely should be. How does that aid in making this a buyers market within a sellers market? Because RIGHT NOW the rates are still low!

Price Check
Of course money is always a factor, but with inventory being low and demand for homes being high it’s almost a certainty that home prices will also be going up. For the savvy home buyer this is a sure sign that if you’re thinking of buying any time this year it’s likely the sooner the better.

Are you considering buying a home and just having a terrible time finding the right one? Your dream home is out there and we can help you find it! Contact us or use our website to search for the current available homes today!

Is Your House Just No Fun?

happy homeownersHome design doesn’t have to be stuffy! Interior decorating should say something about your style, and it’s okay that it does it with a bit of humor. But it can be difficult to balance your childhood whimsy with your grown up sensibilities. Here are some ways to add some fun to your home!

Start at the Front Door
It seems so simple: start at the beginning! Your front door is the very first thing most visitors will see when they come over, so start there. This can be as simple as a humorous welcome mat, or a cute door hanger that will make guests smile.

Color Me Impressed
If it’s the kids room this is easy: go WILD! Make the room a fun theme like a jungle or a spaceship! If this is for the other rooms of the house maybe go a little more grown up; think beyond paint. You can add fun pops of color to a room with fun pillows or a themed throw blanket.

Accessorize!
It’s a VERB! That’s right! The deal breakers are in the details, so don’t be afraid to take the time to add a little charm to any room by using the right accessories. It might be a little book of witty sayings on the coffee table, or a funny little picture over the commode in the bathroom. There are dozens of ways to add some fun using small items in just about any room – but don’t over do it!

Home Is Where the Art Is
Art. Paint it, collect it, hang it on the wall – it’s good for all of those things. And whether your tastes are modern, traditional, or eclectic you can always find some kind of art that will suit your style and add some fun to your hum drum home. There’s nothing more sad than a blank wall, so think about what you like and don’t be afraid to put it up, after all this is your new home!

Not quite ready to get to the decorating part? Still looking for a home to buy? Need to sell the one you’re in first? No matter what your situation we can help you make your next move the right one!

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!

Home Buying: Consider This Before You Start Looking

homesellersThe time has come to buy your first home.

Maybe you’re tired of dealing with a landlord, or your parents are tired of you mooching of them, or maybe you’re just ready – ready to put down some roots, starting building equity, and growing towards a more stable future.

Whatever the reason you’ve been thinking about buying a home there are a lot of costs to consider outside of the actual purchase price of the home that many first time home buyers don’t consider, or don’t even know about. We’ve put together some of these in a quick list to help you get started on the path towards home ownership:

Landscaping – Variable  Cost
Most homes, especially if they’re already built, will come with some sort of basic landscaping – a lawn, maybe a shrubbery or two. Beyond that, getting creating and making the yard your own will be up to you, but even if you leave it as-is there will still be the cost of maintaining the yard. Depending on the size of the yard your plans for it this can be as low a cost as just fertilizing and gas for mowing or well into the thousands of dollars if you go all out.

Appliances – Middle to High Cost
Unless your new home comes pre-furnished  or you’re stealing your room mates stuff chances are you’re going to need appliances. Even if it’s just a couple things, the costs can add up quick – particularly for larger or higher end appliances. Shop around here. Maybe even consider rent-to-own if budget is tight. You can always shop used also, and remember appliances are always something you can upgrade down the road when there may be more finances available.

Insurance – Low to Middle Cost
It’s a good idea. Some would even recommend going a step further and getting a home warranty – this can help you protect those newly acquired appliances and help keep things running smoothly overall. You can plan on about $700 annually for most basic home insurance with prices varying based on the home, amenities, and credit. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but home insurance can really save your shirt if something unforeseen should happen.

Utilities – Variable Cost
Depending on your previous situation the cost of monthly utilities may not have popped up on the radar, and even so until you’re in the new place using the services for a few months you really won’t know for certain what those costs will be. It’s a good idea to at least plan for a few hundred dollars a month to cover electricity, gas, and water. It never hurts to talk to the neighbors in the area when you’re looking at homes and gently asking what their average utilities run.

Taxes, Fees, Etc Etc – Who Can Say
Plan for the first of the year. Set money aside specifically for “We Just Don’t Know” because that first year will include some surprises whether it be fees from the HOA or cost of repairs, it will happen. Another thing of course is Property Taxes and other tax fees associated with being a homeowner. Don’t fret, it’s all part of putting on those grown up pants and doing the paperwork shuffle .

Your new home should be EXCITING! Nothing will kill that excitement faster than having to turn around and ask the folks for a loan just a few months after moving out all because you didn’t plan ahead. Keep all these things in mind, but more importantly talk to your chosen REALTOR®  ( you DID start with finding a qualified real estate agent first, right? ) they will have insight and advice that can save you a lot of trouble!

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!

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.

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!