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!

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!

Are You Buying The Right Home? Are You SURE?

home buyersThere’s nothing that quite compares to the feeling of first stepping foot into a new home. The time and effort put in to finding the home, getting through the paper work and procedures have finally paid off and that big breath relief hits you. Ahhh!

But before that golden moment there are a lot of things to consider; as a lot of work goes into that warm happy memory, it’s important to make sure we’ve made all the right decisions along the way. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of it all but here are a few rational questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you rush into a commitment to buy.

Condition
Unless you are buying new or having your home built this is one of the big items to really take your time with. Will this home need a new roof or other major repairs soon? Will we be in a flood plain? Is the landscape something too lush and extravagant for me to handle on my own? Fixer-upper homes have tons of potential but you have to be ready to own those rough edges until you can smooth them out the way you envision.

Pricing Counts
Even if your lender says the home of your dreams is within your reach you need to make sure you are actually comfortable with the monthly terms. The price of the house itself is not the only factor in the end cost either – don’t forget down payments, closing costs, and other fees (not to mention moving costs!) That new house “ahh moment” might not feel quite as fresh if you are living on ramen for the first year, so it’s always good to plan for more than is listed in the black and white details.

Size Matters
Is the home you’re considering big enough for you or your family? Right combination of bedrooms and baths? Could the living room be a little bigger, or do you need a separate office? You’ll want to make sure the home you select is going to have enough growing room for your needs – in most cases you can expand later but that is often costly.

Creature Comforts
Does your potential dream home have central air conditioning or heat? Maybe you have fantasies about a heated garage floor. Will having a two level house make it difficult for visiting guests? Are there adequate bathrooms to accommodate your traditional summer time patio bbq fiesta? Make sure you give these things some thought even though in most cases adjustments can be made, there should never be a reason to compromise.

Resale Potential
You just got here…and you’re thinking of moving already?! Well, statistics show that people move into a new home nearly every seven years on average. Life can throw some wild curve balls at us without warning; if you were forced to sell your home how easy would that task be? Having a home with high resale potential can help this item not be of concern. Whether it be the newness of the home, it’s location, or special features, generally most homes will have some element that lends them a little extra resale potential. Thinking about the future through home improvements is also a great way to not only protect but to also grow your home investment.

Thinking about all of these things while you are in the home finding mode is a great place to start. Some buyers will fall in love with over the top amenities that often seem attractive in the showing stage but later turn into real headaches. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the moon, your house should be as fabulous as you can imagine it, but it also never hurts too keep your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.

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.

How To Create A Great First Impression For Your Home

house_entranceWhether you are looking to sell or just want to spruce up your new home for the season everyone agrees: first impressions count! 

The front of your house, of course, is the first place to start as it will be the welcoming view of your home for visitors; there are a lot of simple tips to perk up a houses exterior. Here are some of those ideas to help get you started!

The Big Door
In most cases your garage will take up the larger portion of the front of your home; that’s a great reason to pay attention to it’s impact on the overall reception of the house. If your garage door is looking a bit run down it may be a good time to consider replacing it, or if it’s in fairly good shape you might consider just slapping on some new paint or adding window features to it.

Hit The Bricks
If your walkway has pavers or bricks as part of it’s make up you will want to take some time to give them the once over – stone work of any kind can fade and lose color over time due to sun exposure. You can use a gentle washing to help clean them up and check of the mortar to make sure it’s in good condition. If the stone work is too far faded or crumbling it may be time to look into replacing it.

Upgrade The Windows
No, not Windows 10! The windows of your home! Whether this be just updating the glass itself to newer more energy efficient types or actually changing the style and look of the windows themselves, you can make a big difference in how your home looks.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
You can easily add pop and color to the front of your house with a nice flowerbed or planter. Make it seasonal but simple to save yourself upkeep while still looking fabulous. Flowerbed areas in front of your home are especially nice if you have a smaller yard as it can help soften the delimitation between the house and the yard itself.

It doesn’t take much to really make a difference in the look of your home – even just painting the shutters or trim a new color can really add some wow factor. So get out there and make it happen!

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?