Ask These Questions When You’re House Hunting

When you are house hunting, there are important questions you should ask so you can determine if the spaces you are viewing will truly fit your needs, without you having to make costly changes after you move in. Everything is not always as it seems. First impressions may be cosmetic and not be indicative of the true condition of a home.

When touring the main living area, ask what the flooring is like. Consider its   age, appearance and maintenance requirements. Is new flooring going to be needed in the near future and do you have the budget for it?

Pay close attention to the number, size and placement of the windows. Is there enough light and airflow for the activities of you or your family? Check for any condensation between the window panes and how well they operate.

Since the kitchen gets a lot of use, it is important to ask how old and what condition the appliances are in. You need to know what appliances are included with the house sale. Answers to these inquiries will determine what appliances you may have to replace now and in the future.

The bathrooms serve many functions. It is important to find out if the toilet, sink and shower work properly. Is there any evidence of an excessive moisture condition that will be a problem later? Are the bathrooms well-vented?

When looking at the bedrooms, be sure and ask about closet and storage space. Will you have ample space to store your family’s stuff without having to add storage components to the house?

These questions address just a few areas of concern. Call or email me and we can discuss in more depth what other important questions you should be asking when you are house hunting. I am always here to help.

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Simple Yard Improvement Ideas that Will Increase Home Value!

Yard improvement doesn’t have to be complicated for you to get the benefit of up to $4 in increased value for every dollar you spend, according to the Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors. Here are a few ideas to help increase the value of your home.

If you are comfortable with DIY projects, make and install flower boxes. Prefab boxes will be just as successful when filled with colorful plants. The curb appeal of your home will immediately liven up.

Trim out your mulched flower beds with rock borders to help contain the mulch. Adding rock and mulch around your foundation will help divert water away from your home’s perimeter. This DIY project can be taken further by creating rock stream beds. Trench the ground and fill the spaces with rock to take water where it won’t be destructive. Done properly, the result will also enhance the overall look of your landscaping.

To visually tie together the different areas of your yard, install pavers or stepping stones to get from one area to another. Lighting these pathways will bring you the best return on dollars spent and give your home personality at night.

Be sure to care for all of your plants because they add more value to your home as they mature. The return on your investment in a yard full of healthy flowers, plants and trees will never be in question. You also get to enjoy the color, fresh air and shade that vegetation brings.

If creative DIY landscaping projects are not your thing, then be sure you at least fill your outdoor space with a well-maintained lawn. Bags of fertilizer can be purchased for between $30-60, depending on the size needed.

Contact me for other simple yard improvement ideas that will increase the value of your home.

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Plan for These Unexpected Costs when Buying a Home

Coming up with a down payment to buy a home is the primary cost that buyers account for. Closing on a home purchase doesn’t end with the down payment, so you want to be prepared and save for these additional costs that you may not have anticipated.

There will be closing costs that are associated with your loan. Plan on paying 2%-3% of your loan amount for loan application fees, attorney fees, appraisal fees, homeowners’ insurance and other assorted costs.

The $375 to $500 cost of a home inspection should also be factored in. Without a professional home inspection, you will not know what defects the home may have nor be able to negotiate with the seller on repairs.

If the house you are considering is in need of new landscaping, check with a landscaper for the cost to bring it up to your standards. Ask for an estimate for monthly yard maintenance if you don’t plan to do it yourself. Budget for at least $100 per month.

Exterior and interior cosmetic updates will likely be on your to-do list. Decide if you need a plan for working on one renovation at a time. Painting the entire exterior or interior of a home all at once can put a big dent in your finances.

Adding small décor items to your new home can quickly absorb funds from your budget. Bigger-ticket items like appliance repair or having to buy new replacement appliances is your responsibility and can also increase your cost of home ownership.

You can never have too much cash on hand to comfortably close on your new house to make it the home you want it to be. Give me a call so I can guide you through the home-buying process without any surprises.

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Closing on a Home? Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes

If you can properly prepare yourself ahead of time for closing on your home, you won’t be so overwhelmed with the process. Watch out for these typical missteps in your preparation.

1. All contracts and agreements are legal documents, so take the time to carefully review them prior to signing. Any email or document that you receive from your agent, lender or title officer demands your attention prior to moving forward. Don’t fall prey to just scanning materials that require electronic signatures.

2. Pay full attention to what the sellers have stated on their property disclosures. Look for ambiguities and vague responses and investigate any concerns prior to closing. The same care should be part of your thought process when reviewing the title report.

3. A simple but costly mistake is having your name appear in conflicting versions on different documents. Many signatures require notarization, so be sure your driver’s license matches your name on your paperwork. The lender and title officer must be in sync on your legal name, or delays will result from having to have documents redrawn.

4. It is important to have your closing funds ready to wire to the title company upon request. If you don’t allow enough time for the transfer to take place, you won’t be closing on time. If you are planning on handing over your funds drawn on a cashier’s check, it is a good idea to see if the closing agent will accept a cashier’s check. Many do not.

5. Constant communication with your agent, lender and title rep about any financial or life changes will help avoid last-minute modifications to your loan documents and any needed adjustments on other closing paperwork.

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Best Practices for Hosting an Open House!

While advertising, the MLS and social media are great tools to get your home sold, probably the best way to introduce your home to prospective buyers and their agents is to host an open house.

The expertise of your agent will be the key to the success of your open house. Let your agent help you with the setup of your home and scheduling the open house dates. As with everything, timing will be important. In order to maximize the traffic through your home, don’t plan an open house on holidays or during special events.

Your agent will be the greeter who will welcome prospective buyers. The agent’s experience will provide the tools to answer questions and show buyers the standout features of your home. Any buyer feedback will be communicated back to you.

Since a homeowner’s presence is a distraction at an open house, it will be best if you disappear for a few hours. This will allow buyers to speak freely and make their own judgements. Your agent is the best one to take prospects through your home and point out the details.

Your role in hosting your open house begins with getting your home sparkling clean. Eliminate clutter and organize your closets in preparation for inquisitive buyers. Stage your home by first removing family photos and personal items. Allow as much natural light to shine in as possible. Display some flowers, set the dining room table and determine what furniture needs to be removed or added. Since first impressions are so important, be sure to have your landscaping manicured.

As your agent, I regard open houses as one of the most valuable marketing tools if you are selling your home. Call or email me to discuss how to make the most of your open house.

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Do These Things in April to Prep for a Stress-Free Summer

 

April is the month to set the wheels in motion to get your home ready for a carefree summer. Summer is one of the best times of the year, so by doing some simple preparations now, you will be able to enjoy those times without any homeownership worries.

Start your prep by checking the toolshed to make certain that your yard maintenance tools will be up and running for the summer months. Be sure the lawn mower engine has new plugs, a new air filter and a fresh tank of gas. Sharpen the blades of the mower and all of your gardening tools.

An efficient AC will be your best friend when you crank it up, so schedule a springtime preventative maintenance tune-up. If it’s determined that your AC has limited life expectancy, then be prepared and get an estimate for a new unit.

Don’t let pests ruin your summer fun. Seal up any openings that could allow insects to take refuge in warmer weather. Before it gets too hot, check your attic for signs of animals that may have taken up residence there during the winter.

April also signals a good time to tend to bird feeders. To keep rodents away and to safeguard the birds of summer from disease, dismantle your feeders and give them a deep sanitizing. Do this for any birdbaths, and clean up under the feeders as well.

Since summer can bring heavy rains that can lead to water damage, make April your time to check if winter left behind any roof or gutter damage. Examine the basement for any leaks or cracks, and take time to create water diversions away from your foundation on the outside of your home.

Did You Know that Trees Talk to Each Other?

A fascinating story in honor of Earth Day is the growing research into how trees are much more social beings than we ever realized. There are widening studies by forestry ecologists into the way trees communicate using networks of fungus in the ground, relaying messages to each other warning of predators, sharing nutrients with their “sick” neighbors and even forging “alliances” with different tree species.

Likened to the neural pathways in the brain or the lines of communication that form the internet, the underground fungal networks have been described variously as the “wood wide web,” the “mushroom internet” or the “mycorrhizal network.” Vast swathes of mycorrhizal fungus connect different trees in the forest. Trees are then able to send nutrients through these pathways to be picked up by connected trees as well as chemicals that act as “distress signals,” causing their neighbors to release substances that can defend against disease or attack from predators.

Ecologist Suzanne Simard is one of the researchers delving further into these studies. During one of her studies, she witnessed a Douglas fir tree that, having been colonized by insects, sent chemicals acting as a warning to a nearby ponderosa pine tree. This caused the pine to create enzymes that would protect it against insects. In other studies, she has seen older trees sending carbon, nutrients and water to young seedlings, the same way a mother would nurture her child.

What better reason to make sure we’re all doing our bit to save the trees!

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Did You Know That Trees Talk to Each Other?

A fascinating story in honor of Earth Day is the growing research into how trees are much more social beings than we ever realized. There are widening studies by forestry ecologists into the way trees communicate using networks of fungus in the ground, relaying messages to each other warning of predators, sharing nutrients with their “sick” neighbors and even forging “alliances” with different tree species.

Likened to the neural pathways in the brain or the lines of communication that form the internet, the underground fungal networks have been described variously as the “wood wide web,” the “mushroom internet” or the “mycorrhizal network.” Vast swathes of mycorrhizal fungus connect different trees in the forest. Trees are then able to send nutrients through these pathways to be picked up by connected trees as well as chemicals that act as “distress signals,” causing their neighbors to release substances that can defend against disease or attack from predators.

Ecologist Suzanne Simard is one of the researchers delving further into these studies. During one of her studies, she witnessed a Douglas fir tree that, having been colonized by insects, sent chemicals acting as a warning to a nearby ponderosa pine tree. This caused the pine to create enzymes that would protect it against insects. In other studies, she has seen older trees sending carbon, nutrients and water to young seedlings, the same way a mother would nurture her child.

What better reason to make sure we’re all doing our bit to save the trees!

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Best Home-Staging Tips for a Quick Sale

Preparing any property for sale can be a bit daunting. Sometimes, staging stumps agents and sellers alike. When staging, think about the best ways to flatter a home and appeal to any kind of buyer. Your home and its décor should look like the sale price (and then some) as well as  offer a lot of room for buyers’ imagination.

The biggest tip that goes unfortunately by the wayside a majority of the time is to clean and declutter. Cleanliness indicates, no matter what the actual state is of the integrity of the home is, that you take good care of the property. Decluttering lets buyers mentally place their own belongings in the home as well as gives the illusion of more space.

As much as your family photos and cute decorations may bring joy and appeal to your senses, buyers want bare walls to further make the house their home. Make sure landscaping is done to the best of your ability to enhance the house’s curb appeal especially before the open house weekend.

Don’t be afraid to look outside your own resources and potentially hire professional stagers if these tips sound difficult to execute in a short amount of time in an effective way! There is no shame in asking for help from your real estate agent either!

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5 Etiquette Rules to Follow This Holiday Season

It is that time of year again with holiday event after holiday event. Whether you are looking forward to it or not, everyone can envision ways that dinners and parties go wrong without the proper etiquette.

Here are just a few key things to keep in mind as you move through the next month or so to prevent you from being that party pooper:

  1. Avoid controversial topics – Although it’s sometimes hard, try your best to actively avoid topics that you know will rile someone up. If someone else does it, try to disrupt it with something positive or silly before it gets out of hand. One key point to remember: you can’t change anyone’s behavior or opinion, but you can be a role model and show respect for everyone’s opinion.
  2. Assist the host – If you didn’t cook the meal, you should be helping clan up the meal. As much as it is nice to go one holiday without doing the dirty work, showing kindness to your host goes a long way.
  3. Focus on what you can control – go in with manageable expectations. Going to a family party, the expectations should be seeing your family, a few new faces and having a good dinner. old serenity prayer – sit down or arrive with no agenda
  4. Know when the party is over – If the refills have stopped, most of the families with little ones have gone home, and the kitchen helpers are putting away leftovers, it’s time to bid adieu.
  5. Say Thank You – Not just your sister-in-law that’s hosting Christmas Eve, but everyone you interact with this holiday season. Many people go overlooked and overworked during this gift-giving month so give a well-deserved thank you to store clerks, sales associates, and baristas too.
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Pre-Approvals and Why They Matter

In the housing market, you see a lot of tips on how to manage and move with your finances throughout the home-buying process.

Many of those tips involve getting pre-approved for a home loan. Pre-approval proves how much money you can borrow to buy a home and gives a little more legitimacy than a pre-qualification (which acts as a simple estimate).

In this specific fast-acting market with a small inventory, having a pre-approval letter might sway your chances on getting your dream home as sellers are more willing to negotiate with you!

Start this process at a lender instead of waiting to find your dream home. Having a relationship with a lender helps you narrow your mindset as they discuss all loan options and budgeting as well as check your credit and find any problems that may affect your ability to purchase a home.

The faster you get this process started, the faster you get inside your next home! Be sure to direct any questions to any of our agents to better answer your questions about the financial process or partners that we recommend!

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