INSTANT HOME MAKEOVER

INSTANT HOME MAKEOVER

Not every home makeover has to be a major project that lasts days, weeks, or even months. There are a ton of quick touch-ups and fixes that can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home, even though you can finish the project in less than an hour.

mailbox

A new mailbox: Chances are you’re still using the same mailbox that came with your home. But giving your mailbox a fresh coat of paint—or even replacing it entirely—is pretty painless, and it instantly upgrades your home’s curb appeal.

mailbox

Declutter: Less is usually more. Go through your home and consider all the stuff that you haven’t used in years. If it’s no longer serving a purpose, sell it, donate it, or throw it away.

declutter

New hardware for your drawers: Painting kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be a big undertaking—drop cloths, tape, washing brushes and rollers, etc. But you can change out your drawer hardware in just a few minutes—all you have to do is pick out the new fixtures.

drawer pulls

REFINANCING: THE RIGHT MOVE?

refinance

REFINANCING: THE RIGHT MOVE?

If you have an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, consider these factors about refinancing.

The federal reserve recently raised interest rates, and if you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), it may be a good time to consider refinancing your home. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether your should refinance, so here are a few of the main considerations.

How long does your introductory rate last?
Most ARMs have a fixed rate for the beginning of the mortgage. This is an introductory period (usually 3-10 years) when your rate will remain constant before it can be adjusted. If you have several years left in your introductory period, you can monitor interest rates for a while before making a decision. But if the intro rate is ending soon, it’s a great time to explore refinancing at a fixed rate.

How long are you staying?
If you plan to sell your home soon—especially if you’re still on a fixed introductory rate—there’s not much motivation to refinance. But if you’ll be at your home indefinitely, you should consider your refinancing options. You could eliminate the stress of not knowing what your future mortgage rate and payments will be.

What’s your loan balance?
The change in your mortgage payment will of course be determined in part by your remaining balance. If you owe $100,000-$200,000, a new interest rate may not greatly affect your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you owe $500,000, a change in interest rate could lead to a much higher payment.

Other factors
The previous items are just a few of the factors that should go into a decision about refinancing. Changes in income and your current credit score should also be considered, so be sure to weigh your options and make an educated decision.

THINKING OF SELLING?

time to sell

NOW MAY BE THE TIME.

Low inventory is a problem in many markets throughout the country. In a healthy market a particular neighborhood would have six months of inventory. Many neighborhoods are seeing inventory as low as one or two months. This means home buyers are not finding the homes they are looking for.

Eric Sachs, President and Co-founder of BreakthroughBroker.com, said he speaks with Realtors throughout the country, and the main concern voiced by Realtors is that there are not enough listings.

One agent told of a recent story where a new listing had 19 offers on the first day listed. As the spring selling season ends, now is the time to list if you have thought about selling in the past or may want to sell in the future. Call your trusted real estate advisor to see if you live in a low inventory area.

MAKE THE MOVE

making the move

THREE WAYS TO EASE YOUR FEARS ABOUT MAKING A MOVE

With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to make the move and sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one.

This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell—whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood—there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

Look to buy first

In most markets it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property.  Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don’t see anything on Zillow, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find the right home.

Think outside the box

Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.

Protect yourself legally 

Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.

THE DIRTIEST ITEMS IN THE HOME AND HOW TO CLEAN THEM

dirty jobs

5 of the Dirtiest items in your home

Of course, one of the dirtiest items in anyone’s home is the toilet. But, that’s not the only place where dirt and germs accumulate. Here are five other dirty items and suggestions for cleaning them.

  1. Bath Towels – When you and your family dry off from your shower, your bath towel absorbs the water from your body. Then it sits all day breeding bacteria that thrive in warm, moist areas. Combat this issue by changing your bath towels out every two days and washing your dirty towels in hot water to kill anything living on them.
  2. Shower Curtain – Shower curtains easily pick up bacteria the same way bath towels do. They also attract germs from the toilet if they are near each other. Clean your shower curtain by spraying it down with a bleach-based product. Spray the rings and rod, too. Also, when the shower curtain is beyond cleaning, replace it.
  3. Doorknobs – Entryway and bathroom doorknobs are exposed to myriad germs daily. Thankfully, doorknobs are easy to clean. Wipe them down with antibacterial wipes regularly.
  4. Window/Door Tracks – Window and door tracks are harbingers of dust and dirt. The grime that builds up can make you and your family ill. You can easily clean these areas by vacuuming out large pieces of debris and then spraying the stuck-on dirt with water, letting it loosen up and wiping it with a damp cloth.
  5. Toothbrush Holders – Your toothbrush holder is likely teeming with germs and bacteria. Wash it with hot soapy water twice a week. If you can, run it through the dishwasher to ensure it gets clean and sterilized.

Price it Right

price-it-right

5 Things To Price Your House Right

When you put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area to make sure you price it right.

Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison.

  1. Location:  Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.
  2. Date of sale:  It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.
  3. Home build:  Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.
  4. Features and upgrades:  Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.
  5. Sale types:  Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

10 Reasons Not To Sell By Owner (FSBO)

FSBOvsREALTOR

10 Reasons Not To Sell By Owner (FSBO)

So you’re thinking of selling your home without a listing agent and saving 1.5-3% in potential commissions. It doesn’t seem that hard, right? Take some pictures, get it on the MLS or online, and buyers will come running with offers.

While some people have the time and experience to effectively sell without an agent, most FSBO home sales fail. It’s no surprise that the percentage of US homes sold by owner has seen a steady decline.

 FSBO

Here are 10 top reasons not to sell your home by owner.

1. Time

When you decide to FSBO be prepared to sacrifice a lot of time. From staging the property and taking perfect pictures to getting the description and marketing right. You’ll also spend time showing the property, entertaining lookie-loo’s and door-kickers, and talking with agents who won’t take you seriously.

2. Costs

When you sell by owner you may think you’re saving money but in reality you’re often spending a lot of money up front with no guarantee of any return. Listing agents spend a calculated amount of money up front to make sure a listing sells and ultimately pays both you and them both fairly.

3. Saving On Commission

Choosing to FSBO doesn’t really save you money. On average, homes sold by agents get $230k compared to $180k for FSBO. When you find the right agent they will price your property to get the most money in the shortest time, a combination that can mean 10-30% more net profit. When you are considering saving 1.5-3% on a listing commission you should take that into consideration.

4. No Money Up Front

Listing agents do not charge anything upfront to sell your home. If they spend thousands and can’t sell it for the price you want, they are out those thousands, not you! This is perhaps one of the greatest things about using an agent. There is an extremely low risk and cost to doing so!

5. Perception

The perception of FSBO sellers is that they are not serious about selling their properties and are often just testing the market or seeing if they can get some far fetched price or perfect buyer that isn’t realistic. They are often not taken seriously in the real estate community because they don’t see the value in representation by an agent or broker.

6. Marketing

You might be ready to post your home on Facebook and Craigslist a few times, but you don’t have the ultimate home selling tool – the MLS. The multiple listing service can be accessed by licensed real estate agents, and is the way to get your home listed on sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia. A large majority of home buyers begin their search on sites like these, and you want your home to be seen by as many buyers as possible to get the best price. It’s no surprise that homes sold via FSBO have seen a steady decline as online real estate has become the norm.

7. Liability

When you sell your home without an agent, any mistakes you make can cost you greatly. Agents have something called E&O (Errors & Omissions) Insurance. This protects them when mistakes are made in contracts. When you sell on your own, others can make sure to exploit every little mistake you make.

8. Agent Boycott/Sabotage

When you decide to sell your home yourself you are telling other agents that you don’t understand their value in a multi-billion dollar industry. Agents often see FSBO sellers as easy marks to negotiate against because they have the upper hand. They control the buyer/offer and can negotiate their own commission. They can also pick your property and price apart because they have the expertise to do so. They don’t need to worry about treating you unfairly because the chance of them dealing with you again is slim to none. More often than not they will simply ignore your listing altogether to avoid the hassle.

9. Pricing Incorrectly

Pricing your home incorrectly when you list it can be the worst mistake, and can greatly affect days on market and final sales price. Pricing too high will mean fewer people see it, resulting in fewer offers. Price it too low and you’re conveying that something is wrong with the property or that you are desperate to sell. More days on market will also signal to buyers that something is wrong and can ultimately mean less money upon final sale. Learn more about setting the price right here.

10. Low Ballers

When you FSBO you attract investors and low-ballers who see your inexperience and ignorance as a prime opportunity. What may seem like a lot to you may be a steal to them. An experienced agent will understand this and negotiate the most money possible for you.

TACKLE SPRING AND SUMMER MAINTENANCE

HOme Maintenaince

START HERE IF YOU NEED TO TACKLE SPRING AND SUMMER MAINTENANCE

Winter is hard on your home even in the south.  The cold expands and contracts the materials your home is made of.  Now that the winter weather is behind us, here’s a few quick tips to get started on your spring and summer maintenance.

roof maintenaince

Roof and shingles: It’s pretty common for shingles to get damaged or detach completely after a long cold winter. Thoroughly inspect your roof to ensure that shingles are in good condition and the roof is structurally sound. It may not be time to replace your roof yet, but consider how many more years it has left and start preparing a budget.

Gutter Maintenaince

Check your gutters: The weight of heavy melting snow and debris is more than enough to make your gutters sag or loosen. Clear out all the leaves and other debris that’s collected in the gutters, and make sure they’re still securely attached at all points.

Concret Maintenaince concretcrack2

Check concrete surfaces: Fluctuating temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract. This can lead to damaged driveways, walkways, and other surfaces, and that can spell bad news for water drainage. Fill the cracks with an appropriate material, and seal your surfaces if possible.

 

 

Hvac maintenaince

HVAC service: Before you put your central air conditioner through a rigorous summer, clean the coils and change the filter. Better yet, bring in a professional for yearly maintenance.

5 TIPS FOR REDUCING CLUTTER

5 Things To Do To Get Ridclutter Of Your Unwanted Clutter.

It doesn’t take much time to go from a perfectly organized room to a cluttered, chaotic mess. Papers pile up on surfaces, coats and bags end up on furniture, shoe boxes and shopping bags get stuffed in the first place you can find. But if you’re proactive, you can avoid the common clutter traps. Here are five ideas for reducing clutter:

hall treeHave a place for the things you bring into the house each day:  Do what you can to create an easy place to put your outerwear, mail, keys, phone, and the other things you bring home each day. Coat racks, mail holders, and a catch-all basket give you an easy, consistent place to put your everyday items.

basketGet a basket for once-worn clothes:  There are some clothing items that may not need to be washed or put away immediately after one use, like sweaters or denim. These items often end up on the bedroom floor. Instead, put them in a specific basket for items that aren’t yet ready for the laundry room.

wall rackKeep kitchen tools off the counter:  It’s really easy to let items pile up on the kitchen counters, and all that clutter can be frustrating when it’s ready to make a meal. To reduce clutter, use wall racks to keep cooking utensils off the counter.

no clutterDesignate a no-clutter zone:  This one’s simple. Simply choose an important surface or space (like a coffee table), clear it of clutter, and focus on keeping that one area totally organized.

set tableKeep the dining room table set:  Not only is a set table pleasant to the eye, but it also makes it nearly impossible for the table to gather clutter. Thanks to the plates and silverware, there’s no room for your junk mail.

DOES HOME STAGING MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

What is all the hullabaloo about Home Staging?after

before

It seems to be universally accepted that home staging will help your home sell faster or for the best price—it’s been the common practice in the real estate business for a long time, and on the surface it seems like a no-brainer. Of course potential buyers will be more interested if a home is properly decorated, right?

That’s not necessarily true, according to a recent academic study. The study surveyed 820 homebuyers by showing them one of six virtual tours of the same property. In some instances the home was decorated with traditional furniture and color schemes, while in others more eccentric furniture and colors were used. In other tours there was no furniture at all, just empty rooms.

The overall results of the study were that staging is unlikely to increase a home’s sale price, and that staging isn’t quite as important as everyone believes.  It does make the home feel inviting which may increase showing.

Of course, real estate trends vary greatly from market to market. If you have questions about staging, talk to your trusted real estate professional.