NEW HOMEOWNER? AVOID THESE LAWN CARE MISTAKES

lawn care

4 Lawn Care Mistakes to Avoid

It’s easy to take a few missteps when it comes to lawn care, especially if you’re a new homeowner and it’s your first time being solely responsible for your yard and landscaping. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid lawn-related frustrations.

measuring-your-lawnCutting the grass short. Lowering the height of your mower blades may give you a few extra days between each mowing, but it’s bad for your grass in the long run. Don’t go any shorter than 2.5 inches, or your grass could be starved for sunlight.

 

 

 

lawn-mistakes-dogWatch where your dog urinates. Finally out of an apartment and ready to let the dog into the back yard when it’s time to go? You might regret it. Your pets’ urine can kill your plants and grass. Try to train your dog to go in one spot,          preferably in stone or gravel.

 

lawn-care-fertBe careful with fertilizer. Fertilizing your lawn isn’t as simple as picking up any bag at a local store. Choosing the wrong fertilizer, using too much, or ignoring the instructions is a recipe for disaster. Do plenty of research or ask a professional if you need help choosing.

 

 

 

 

Give your plants room to breathe. The nutrients in soil are a finite resource, and your plants and shrubs also need their fair share of water and sunlight. If you plant your shrubs, trees, and flowers too close together, they’ll have to compete for those resources and may become malnourished. Pay attention to the planting recommendations for each plant to make sure that they have the proper space to thrive.a-nice-lawn-2

DISPELLING REFINANCING MYTHS

Refinancing_Mortgage_Loans

3 Things You Need To Know About Refinancing

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE.

For years now, we’vtime-vortexe been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.

IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING.

Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?

 

 

adjust-fixed-250x250ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO.

Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.

DEALING WITH SCRATCHED HARDWOOD FLOORS

Scratches-from-Wood-Floors

Best Ways To Fix Scratches on Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are highly desirable for most homeowners, but they come with their share of challenges when it comes to cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. After a few months or years of heavy use from kids playing with toys and chairs being shuffled around, it may be time for some DIY fixes.

Hiding scratches: If you’ve got a good eye for matching colors, you can actually use crayons or markers or purchase wax sticks from the hardware store to fill-in scratches. Try to match the stain color on your floors, but don’t worry if it’s a little off. If the color is close, once the scratch is filled, it’ll look like a variation in the wood grain.

Polishing floors: You can make a polish solution for your floors from household ingredients. Mix olive oil and vinegar in equal parts, pour it directly into scratches, and then wipe it off after 24 hours. It may take several applications, but this homemade polish will fill and cover most scratches.

Clever decor: It’s not a long-term solution, but sometimes the most painless way to fix scratches in your floors is to cover them with a rug or furniture arrangement.

Spot sanding: For deeper scratches, you’ll need to spot sand with fine steel wool or sandpaper, use wood filler, and stain and seal the repaired area.

NEW HOME, BETTER LIVING

new home2

What to look for in a New Home

When you’re house hunting, focus on the things that will improve your quality of life.
There are so many factors that go into a home buying decision that it can make your head spin—especially if you’re in a competitive market where time is of the essence. The desire to purchase a property makes it easy to look past issues that could detract from your enjoyment of the home and cause some regrets down the road. That’s why when you’re weighing your options, quality of life should always be the top priority.

Location is part of lifestyle
Buyers often focus on “must haves” that can be added via renovation, but will downplay factors that are impossible to change. For example, if you work and spend much of your free time in the heart of a busy city, a house in the suburbs may mean more space for the same price, but it could also mean long commutes and a major hit to your nightlife. A centrally-located condo might be a better option.

On the other hand, if you’re a weekend warrior who looks forward to skiing, hiking, and mountain biking trips, living outside the city may be perfect—you’re that much closer to the trails when you wake up on Saturday morning. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: Location, location, location.

Big homes aren’t for everyone
If you love entertaining friends and family, a big house makes perfect sense. You’ll have all the space you need to prepare meals and throw big parties, and your guests won’t have any trouble finding parking.

But a big home also means more cleaning and maintenance—more lawn to mow, more bathrooms to scrub, more things that will break and need fixing. Before you dive into an alluring big home, consider your tolerance and enthusiasm for the upkeep. For some, a smaller home or a professionally-maintained condo are better options.

6 Tips for Selling Your House in a Shifting Market

How to Sell your House in a Shifting Mark

What DOES it take to sell in a Shifting Market?  Pretty much the same things it takes to sell in any market.  But there are a few things that need a bit more attention when your competing with more sellers to get your property noticed.

1.  Price It Right!dollar sign

Contact a LOCAL real estate professional to ensure you have the most current CMA or Comparative Market Analysis for the homes sold in your area.  Real Estate websites that are nationwide, do not take into account local issues, conditions, and state disclosure rules.  This valuable tool will help you price your home in such a way that it will make it attractive to not only buyers, but other real estate professionals who may have clients interested in purchasing a home just like yours.

2.  Ask for a Merchandising Review.

This one page worksheet is a critical component to ensuring your home is sold for the most money, in the least amount of time and for the best possible terms. Why? It spells out, in detail, all the finer points of selling your home in today’s market.

3.  Out With the Old!family_heirloom_3

While the shelves full of novelties, mementos and family photos are treasures to you, prospective buyers need a “clean landscape” in which to envision their own personal possessions.  Clear away the clutter, box up the personal items and store them.  This presents a better “showplace” and also safeguards those items precious to you when your property is being reviewed by potential buyers.

4.  Grading on the “Curb.”

curbappeal“Curb Appeal” has never been more important than in a changing market.  First impressions are everything and your home can be a masterpiece inside but if your outside is drab, dirty, cluttered or unkempt you can be sure that your prospective buyers will drive on by. Polish or replace hardware such as door knockers, knobs and light fixtures.  Plant colorful flowers in the beds, trim hedges, keep your lawn tidy and consider a nice accent piece for your porch.  If your door looks faded or chipped, bring it back to life with a fresh “sand and paint” job!

5.  Make Certain Your Home is Properly Staged

Consider hiring a professional to “stage” your house before prospective buyers begin coming through your door, especially if your house has been vacant for a while.  A professional stager will generally charge between $1,000 and $2,000, and arrange home furnishings so that prospects can more easily envision their own furniture in the house.  At the same time, an experienced stager can add a touch of class to your home.  We at NextHome E-Realty offer a free two hour session with a local Home Staging company with every listing.

6.  Don’t Forget Financial Incentives

Offer buyer’s agents a bonus for bringing a ready willing and able buyer to close.  Offer buyers closing cost assistance.  Closing cost assistance is especially attractive now that credit has tightened significantly and there are only a few 100% loan options.

As a real estate professional, know that I’m always here to help.  Whether you have questions regarding the shifting market, how to best show your property or even want to learn how much your home is worth today – I can help you find the answers.  Call me – I’m a resource you can count on and an advocate you can trust.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAINT FINISH

Why all the different paint types?

It can be intimidating to stand in front of the paint swatches at the paint or hardware store and try to make a decision. Picking a color can be difficult enough—and then you have to choose the finish. Choosing the color is up to you, but here’s a simple guide to choosing the correct finish for your project.

High Gloss
High gloss paint has the most sheen, and will be the most durable. That durability is best suited for the kitchen, on surfaces like cabinets, door frames, and window trim. It’s best to avoid using high gloss on walls, because it will be too reflective.high gloss

Semi-Gloss
It’s not as shiny as high gloss, but it’s still great for kitchens and bathrooms, because the sheen protects from drips, splatters, and other moisture.

Satin
Satin has a velvet-like look, but is still a durable finish, and works best in high-traffic areas. Be careful when applying, because satin paint will reveal sloppy brush strokes.

Eggshell and flat
These finishes have the least amount of sheen, and are the least durable. They’re great for hiding imperfections in your walls, but the low durability means they should be avoided if the room is subject to wear and tear from kids or pets. Use these paints in dining rooms, bedrooms, and other low-traffic rooms.paint-finishes-flat-satin-semi-gloss

 

FIVE NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT CAN KILL A SALE

Negotiating

Fine tuning your Negotiating skills

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly.

Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.Negotiation_Candidates
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.real-estate-humor-real-estate-agents
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.negotioation decisions

You Don’t Want to Wait

5 Ways It Could Cost You and Why You Don’t Want To Wait To Put Your Property On The Market

It might be more convenient to wait to put your property on the market for various reasons.  If you knew that by waiting, you could be costing yourself $3,000 or more, would you still want to wait?  Part of the reason you hire a professional is to provide you with the facts so you can make an informed decision.  So here are 5 reasons you don’t want to wait or you could be to late for the best deal.alice rabbit

Interest Rates

Over history, interest rates have fluctuated up and down.  No one can guarantee interest will be in the months to come.  Currently, we know what the rates are.  If rates increase to much, buyers are knocked out of the marketplace.  The pool of  buyers in the marketplace decreases as the interest rates go up. Which then in turn changes your chances of finding a buyer willing to pay your price.  You can’t predict what’s going to happen with interest rates.  Nobody can.  There is an advantage in dealing with a known set of circumstances.

New Property Could Cost More

If you’re buying a new property that’s more expensive, you could cost yourself plenty.  For Example, let’s say you’re selling a $100,000 property and looking to buy a $150,000 property.  If both properties appreciate ar the same rate of 3% over the next 6 months, you gain $3,000 on your existing property.  However, the $150,000 property will now cost you $154,500.  A net loss of $1,500.

Time Is On Your Side

The very fact that you have time on your side could save you thousands.  Many sellers that have waited have put themselves in a “Have to” sell situation, and have to accept an offer for less than what they wanted.  The fact is when you have time on your side, you won’t feel pressured to accept an offer that’s less than what you want.

Supply And Demand

Right now in the marketplace there are a certain number of buyers and a certain number of sellers.  We are currently dealing with a known set of circumstances.  There is no guarantee that in a few weeks, or a few months, there might be fewer buyers or more sellers.  Either way, by waiting, you are taking a gamble with accomplishing your real estate objectives.

Tax Changes

Currently we enjoy a number of benefits for owning property.  See your accountant for tax advice.  Should the federal government decide to change capital gains or interest deductions, you could risk the current tax advantages which we currently enjoy.  The only thing that never changes is change itself.

 

Pitfalls of Overpricing

6 Pitfalls of Overpricing your House

pricing-pyramid

When it comes to getting the most money for your house with the lease headaches in the shortest amount of time, nothing can stop that process faster than overpricing your house.  In fact, it’s the number one reason houses don’t sell.

As a real estate professional committed to happy clients who are eager to get the most from their investment, sharing this must know information with potential sellers in on the tip of my to-do list.

The National Association of Realtors released a study earlier this month that not only reported an increase in home values of 6% from the same time last year, but it also reported that half of homes were on the market for less than 30 days.

 Timing is Everything:

Very often a seller will ask, “We can always come down later – Right?”

Historically when your house goes on the market, the greatest potential for buyer traffic is in the first 30 days.  By pricing it high with the intention of dropping the price later, you are completely bypassing your best candidates for buyers.

Showings Shut Out:

Agents have an obligation to do what is best for their clients.  Clearly, showing overpriced listings does not fall into that criterion.  Agents will choose to show properties that are with in their buyer’s price range and that meet the current Fair Market Value.

Benefits the Competition:

Unfortunately, when a home is overpriced, it not only sits on the market but it acts as a selling point for the market-priced homes.  It’s a cue to buyer’s to say, “I can get the same house for less down the street!”

Lender Trouble:

Even if an agent agrees to list your house too high, and even if you were to find a buyer willing to pay more – these are both BIG IFS – today’s lenders are extraordinarily cautious now.  They base their loans on accurate appraisals and appraisers must base their price on comparable properties that have sold.

Time on the Market:Time-on-Market

Overpriced houses will simply sit on the market.  Unfortunately, extended time on the market forces the question in a buyer’s mind of the possible bigger problems looming within the walls of the property.  Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.  What’s the first two things a buyer asks their agent when they consider a property?  What’s the price and how long has it been on the market?

Lower Proceeds:

Unfortunately, when a house starts its listing life overpriced, it almost always sells for less than market value.  With few buyers to choose from, zero leverage because of time on the market, too high an asking price, and carrying the cost to maintain the property; most sellers find themselves getting the least from their investment rather than the most.

 

 

5 Reasons to Sign

5 Reasons to Sign

a Buyer Representation Agreement

If you’ve started looking for a home—and a real estate professional is assisting you—your Buyer’s representative may ask you to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement.   What is this form?  Why should you sign it?  A Buyer Representation Agreement is a legal document that formalizes your working relationship with a particular Buyer’s representative, detailing what services you are entitled to and what your Buyer’s Rep expects from you in return. While the language used in the document is formal, homebuyers should view it as an important and helpful tool for clarifying expectations, developing mutual loyalty, and most importantly, elevating the services you will receive.abr

1. Receive a higher level of service.

If you’ve formalized an agency relationship with a Buyer’s Rep, you can expect to be treated like a Client instead of a Customer.  What’s the difference?  Clients are entitled to superior services, relative to customers.  While the details vary from state to state, and from one Buyer’s Agent to another, you can generally assume that being a Client means that you’ve formed a fiduciary, or agency, relationship with your Buyer’s Rep.*

2. Get more without paying more.

In almost every case, home sellers have already agreed to pay a Buyer’s Agent’s commission.  If they haven’t, you can ask your Buyer’s Rep to avoid showing you any such homes.  Or you can still view the home, knowing that you’ll need to factor your Agent’s commission into any offer you may write.  While buyers rarely pay real estate commissions, this is an important detail you’ll want to discuss with your Buyer’s Rep and clarify in their representation agreement.

3. Avoid misunderstandings.

A Buyer’s Representation Agreement clarifies expectations, helping you understand what you should and shouldn’t expect from your Buyer’s Rep, and what they will expect from you, which usually centers on loyalty.buyer agency agreement

4. Agency relationships are based on mutual consent.

While most representation agreements specify a time period, they can be terminated early if both parties consent. Most Buyer’s Reps are willing to end the agreement early if the working relationship isn’t going well.  Some Buyer’s Reps also offer representation agreements for as little as one day, for the purpose of giving both parties a brief trial period to explore working together.

5. Strength as a team. 

When you and your Buyer’s Rep work together within a formalized agency relationship, you have created a team dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible home-buying experience.

signature on document

* Note that not every state or Agency requires a signed Buyer’s Representation Agreement to create an agency relationship.  In some cases, an agency relationship can be formed if both parties simply behave as if one exists.