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

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.

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

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.

Customer or Client?

 Customer or Client?

What’s the difference?

Have you ever had a REALTOR say that your their Customer or Client?  There is a lot of confusion over this wording.  Do you know what the REALTOR means when they say that you are “their Client”?  What about a Customer?  Do you REALLY know the difference?  Who does it benefit you to be a Client versus a Customer?  I will try to explain…..

If you are the Buyer:

  • If you’re a client, a buyer’s agent will seek to negotiate the most favorable transaction terms for you—and will not disclose any material facts about your situation that could hurt your negotiating position.
  • If, however, you are only a customer, a buyer’s rep may not be in a position to answer even basic questions, such as “Why are they selling?” or “Is this home priced competitively?” This is because they are acting instead as a sub-agent for the seller.

YOUR SERVICES WILL VARY, DEPENDING ON YOUR STATUS.

If you are a CLIENT (fiduciary relationship), your agent will:

Pay full attention to your needs

Tell you all that they know about the seller

Keep information about you confidentialsurvey

Focus on choices that satisfy your needs

Provide material facts as well as professional advice

Provide price counseling based on comparable properties and their professional insights

Protect and guide you

Negotiate on your behalf

Attempt to solve problems to your advantage and satisfaction

If you are a CUSTOMER (no fiduciary relationship), an agent will:

dollarMaintain loyalty to the seller’s needs

Tell the seller all that they know about you

Keep information about the seller confidential

Focus on the seller-client’s property

Provide just the material facts

Only provide price information that supports the seller’s listing price

Protect the seller

Negotiate on behalf of the seller

Attempt to solve problems to the seller’s advantage and satisfaction

* 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.

 

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In | Simplifying The Market

Choosing the home to retire in

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $14,000 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think!

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think! | Simplifying The Market

 How to save for your down payment

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long it would take to save for a down payment in each state.

Using data from the United States Census Bureau and Zillow, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.

By determining the percentage of income spent renting in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own.

According to the data, residents in Ohio can save for a down payment the quickest in just under 3 years (2.44). Below is a map that was created using the data for each state:

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think! | Simplifying The Market

What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3%-down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes possible in a year or two in many states as shown on the map below.

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think! | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Whether you have just started to save for a down payment, or have been saving for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Let’s meet up so I can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.

 Tuesday March 13th, 2018  Down PaymentsFirst Time Home BuyersFor Buyers