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The Incredible Joy of Owning Your Home

If you haven’t bought a home yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful feeling! That moment when you walk through your doors, throw your purse or keys on the floor, plop down on your couch and breathe a sigh of relief while thinking, “Finally, it’s ours (or mine)!” And the joy of looking at all of your boxes, getting to roll your eyes about why you buy so much stuff, then giving yourself a moment to take a nap because you worked hard to get here and earned it! Yes that’s a real feeling!

We often hear, and read, about the cost effectiveness of home ownership. The equity build-up, the freedom it can give us from finances in our retirement years, and a plethora of other ways owning a home can be a positive impact on your bottom dollar. But we don’t often hear about the emotional impact owning a home can have. Yes there will be days the fridge is acting silly and you need to call your home warranty, or days you have to get outside to mow your own yard, but nothing beats the pride and joy of owning a home.

There is a sense of security, and a sense of “this is mine and I worked my way up to this moment,” that provides moments of bliss. The ability to do with your home as you please, not pay a pretty penny for every member of your fur family, and the privacy it provides can’t be beat.

Home ownership also gives you the ability to put down some roots. And we mean that figuratively and literally. You get to build memories through the holidays and go through many milestones with your family, that leave a significant impact into the later years. You also get to build bonds with your neighbors, and grow in a community oriented neighborhood. With rentals, people come and go annually, but there are deeper roots planted with building relationships with those living next to you. Potlucks, 4th of July and New Year’s Eve spent lighting fireworks, and just the excitement of getting to know each other and build new relationships.

Buying a home isn’t about the dollars and cents for everyone, sometimes it’s just about the joy of owning your own place, and getting to build amazing memories in it. If you’ve been longing for this, get in touch with a real estate agent, and make it happen. You owe it to yourself to make your dreams come true!

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10 Home Chores To Do Annually

Sing me some graces, there is such a thing as over-cleaning! Here are ten chores around the home that you really only need to do annually, minus special circumstances. Let’s dive in!

1. Curtains & Drapes

Unfortunately, we don’t mean the dusting part. You’ll want to dust at least once a month, but when it actually comes time to getting them cleaned, you only really need to do that once a year. You can take them in to get dry cleaned or follow the instructions on their tags if you choose to wash them at home.

2. House Gutters

Gutter guards can be a great investment, especially if you live around trees that shed all year long. These can keep your gutter cleanings minimal, generally about once per year. You’ll want to do this in the autumn when all of the leaves from the trees have already fallen.

3. Fireplace & Chimney

After the winter, you’ll want to give your fireplace a thorough cleaning. You can use a shop vacuum to clean up the embers. Make sure to wash down the fireplace tools as well. Go an extra step further and schedule an appointment with a chimney sweeper.

4. Carpets

We wish we meant vacuuming, but that’s pretty much a weekly or biweekly task for most households. In this case, we mean a deep clean. The best time to get this taken care of is right after summer.

5. Outdoor Furniture

The best time to clean outdoor furniture is when you bring them out of storage for Spring. Of course, if messes up happen while you’re using them, you want to clean the spots right away, so you avoid an accumulation of stains in a short period.

6. Mattress

Mattresses have improved through the years but they still need a little bit of attention. At least once a year, give your mattress a thorough cleaning and change the position of it.

7. Kitchen Cabinets & Pantry

Early November is a great time to clean out kitchen cabinets, drawers, and the food pantry to get them ready for the holidays. Do a section of cabinets at a time and empty them out completely. Wipe down the shelves and reline with shelf paper if needed.

8. Linen Closet

Just once a year, empty out your linen closet and give it a thorough cleaning. Take time to vacuum away dust and spiderwebs and reline any shelves.

9. Garage, Basement, & Attic

No one is expecting you to have a perfect garage, basement, or attic. However, a good cleaning at least once a year can help you keep an eye on things, such as moisture or insect problems. It can also feel good to get rid of junk that tends to accumulate in these hidden spaces.

If you’re in the market to sell your home, you can always give me a call, and I’ll refer over some preferred vendors that can help you knock out your cleaning tasks.

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Kitchen Improvements Under $100

Want to spruce up your kitchen but stuck on a tight budget? Check out the list of improvements you can get started on for under $100. These tips can come in handy when you’re ready to list your home to sell on the market.

1. REFRESH THE SINK:

If your sink is starting to look outdated, find an affordable, yet stylish, replacement. If you have the eye for DIY, you can also purchase some sandpaper and a $4 can of spray paint that is made for metal, and dye it to refresh and brighten the color.

2. HANG A NEW LIGHT FIXTURE

A decorative light fixture doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can generally find some decent ones that are under $100. Go for a chrome finish or choose the rustic route, whichever suits the current decor in your kitchen. You can also add LED lights under your kitchen cabinets for around $10-$20.

3. PAINT THE CABINETS

With care taken in the prep work, you can refinish the paint on your cabinets. You can generally get a kit around $75. Refreshing the paint color or the stain can make your kitchen feel brand new.

4. TURN YOUR FRIDGE INTO A CHALKBOARD

Chalkboard finishes are a hot trend, especially on the fridge! They add more functionality by allowing home owners to write grocery lists, menus, and even to-dos. Use painters tape to outline the shape and size you want to use as the chalkboard then coat it with magnetic primer, then chalkboard paint.

5. REPLACE OUTLET PLATES

Replace the outdated outlet wall plates for your light switches. You can add some character to it by using bold patterns, bright colors, or elegant textures. If they look faded, yellow, or chipped, they’re a cheap fix to replace.

6. CHANGE HARDWARE

Replacing the hardware on your kitchen cabinets and drawers can provide a drastic change to your kitchen. Not only can you get rid of hideous outdated hardware, but you can add a completely new feel to the theme of your kitchen just by updating the hardware throughout it.

7. EXPAND STORAGE

Have empty wall space? Search your local home stores for cute baskets or storage containers you can use to fill the space. Not only can it add some character to your kitchen, it also adds functionality and more storage options. A feature buyers love if you’re thinking of listing your home.

8. DRESS UP YOUR DECOR

Bring some color to your kitchen. Throw out decor that looks like it belongs in the 90’s, rugs that are falling apart, and anything else that weighs down a fresh look. Add in some new rugs and hand towels that match your personality and the theme you’re trying to achieve. You can also add some plants and decorative pieces to add character.

9. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER

The best cleaning tip I can give all of my clients is to remove the clutter. Nothing is a bigger eye sore than too many things. It also messes with the energy in a home. Throw out a lot of things that are taking up too much space. If it’s sentimental, see if you can store it in a new place or even donate it.

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Durable Kitchen Floor Options

Kitchen floors get put through quite a lot! Between all of the dropped utensils, the spills and drips; being one of the most used rooms in a home, your floors need to handle kitchen hazards and look good doing it. A large variety of floor materials won’t be an ideal fit for the kitchen because of this. Below, I’m listing my favorite kitchen floors that help with maintaining low maintenance, and keeping a balance between style and functionality.

CERAMIC TILES

Ceramic tiles can be a great fit for the kitchen because they are resilient, hard, and impervious to stains and water. It also helps that they are resilient to heat and breakage, under normal conditions, that is. They came in a variety of colors and even faux finishes to add a beautiful, yet smart, addition to your kitchen.

DURABLE CONCRETE

Concrete is a great option for ground level kitchens and are a long lasting option for homeowners. Sometimes, concrete slabs may have already been placed beneath your existing flooring. The surface of it can then be polished or stained to provide a stylish look for your kitchen.

NATURAL STONE

Natural stone is a hard rock that allows it to remain durable and long lasting. The only drawback to stone is that it is porous, which makes it susceptible to water and liquid stains. This can be avoided with an annual application of chemical stone sealer, which simply provides an invisible coat of protection.

HARDWOOD

Hardwood can be tough to work within a kitchen because the material is porous and relatively soft. However, if you like the look of hardwood in a kitchen, you’ll just want to have it treated with a quality polyurethane-based finish. Keep in mind, it will, overtime, take on a more aged look. If you find character and personality in imperfections, then hardwood will work great for you.

BAMBOO

Bamboo has a similar look and feel to hardwood, and can be a great alternative. It is a harder and more durable material that helps it become more resistant towards moisture and water damage. The only drawback? It’s tough to refinish them because there is no direction to the natural grain.

LINOLEUM

Made popular about 50 years ago, linoleum seems to be making a comeback. Linoleum is made from all natural linseed oil, which makes it pretty environmentally friendly. They’re also pretty easy to clean and maintain. If it is properly cared for, it can generally have a lifespan for upwards of 40 or so years. However, if it is immersed in water, it is highly susceptible to damage. Be sure to avoid basement quality linoleum in your kitchen or they will begin to curl when faced with humidity.

VINYL

Vinyl is a great and affordable kitchen flooring option. Their lifespan generally tens to run around 7 to 10 years before they start showing significant signs of wear and fade. Vinyl is man-made and is nearly impervious to water issues, stains, and other damage. It is also very easy to clean.

Don’t want to replace your flooring? You can always give me a call and we’ll find you a house with the type of kitchen flooring that you love!

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Why You Need To Sell This Summer

The market is hot, hot, hot! With interest rates at an all time low for buyers, the market has turned into a feeding frenzy, and home sales are skyrocketing in prices. In such a high demand, seller’s market, homes are selling for record breaking prices, which means more money in your pocket. If you have been considering selling your home, doing so in today’s market will bring you a larger sales price. Don’t wait for the market to shift when interest rates begin to start going up again. The National Association of Realtors has gathered data to predict a strong 6 months of sales throughout the United States. And with such a large group of buyers hunting for homes during the summer months, you have a great potential to sell your home quickly, and move on to bigger and better things sooner.

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This is also a great buying opportunity if you are wanting to transition into a new home. Low interest rates equate to more savings. You could potentially end up getting a bigger home for the same monthly payment cost when you buy your next property. And with such a hot market, there are more homes for sale, which means you can find the right one.

If you have not already spoken with an agent, get in touch with one to get a complimentary CMA. See if the numbers work out for you and/or your family, and if moving is something you want to do. Whether you are re-sizing, or moving to a different state, your agent can get the numbers in order to make sure it’s in your best interest to transition in today’s market. Don’t wait and lose tens of thousands of dollars in your sale price!

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3 Questions To Ask Before Buying Your 1st Home

The real estate market is constantly changing, so of course DO YOUR RESEARCH! DO NOT jump the gun on this one! Unbiased advice from family and peers may be kind, but you are the only one who knows what your needs are when it comes to buying a home.
WHAT MADE YOU CONSIDER OWNING A HOME?

Forget finances for a minute and focus on what made you consider even buying a home in the first place!

·      Is your family expanding?

·      Does your family feel safe?

·      Is there a STELLAR school system in the area so your     children can get the education they deserve?

·      How about that unbearable landlord?
WHICH WAY IS THE REAL ESTATE MARKET GOING?

DON’T SLEEP ON YOUR DECISION TOO LONG! Home prices are on the rise! Not only are they on their way back up, but these increases are happening monthly.

Don’t believe us? According to Existing Homes Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average price of homes in May 2017 went up 5.8% from last year.

If you wait until next year to buy, you might be scrapping for change in the cushions to say the least! Not only will it cost you more to buy, but you will also need to increase your down payment to account for the higher price of the home.

 

WHAT IS THE MORTGAGE FORECAST?

The initial process of purchasing your home may seem easy and quick, but THERE IS MORE TOO IT! The ‘long term cost’ of buying a home WILL haunt you if you buy at the wrong time! Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and NAR have projected that mortgage interest rates will DEFINITLEY increase over the next twelve months. The smallest increase in mortgage rates can have a huge impact on a home owner.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you and your family feel it is the right time to buy a home then GO FOR IT! Consider these points when making the final decision.

Don’t forget, this move is FOR YOU!

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Storage Ideas For Small Bathrooms

Is your bathroom small? It’s the worst, isn’t it? Well, unfortunately, small bathrooms are very common, and are usually the smallest rooms in the house. I can almost bet that it almost always feels cramped and tight in there. Although the square footage doesn’t change, a change of organization and storage space can make a drastic change to how your bathroom feels. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your bathroom space feel more functional and spacious.

  •  Medicine Cabinet
    If you have a regular mirror, replacing it with one that includes a medicine cabinet and provide further storage space.

  • Shelving
    If you have free space above your toilet, vanity, or other another empty part of the wall, install shelving units. Purchase a few decorative baskets to maximize shelf space.

  • Hooks
    With a few decorative hooks, in a style of your preference, you can declutter by placing a couple on the back of the door to hang towels or robes. Perhaps one or two right next to each end of the shelving unit you just installed.

  • Towel Racks 
    A rack installed inside of you shower can save you space and convenience, also adding an additional shower bar above the original will work nicely. Another idea is installing a few racks a couple of feet above each other or right next on another. If you have an excessive amount of towels, store some of them away in the bedroom closet.

  • Vanity with Cabinet
    I have come across plenty of pedestal sinks in small bathrooms, but if you want save some space, add some storage, and upgrade the look of your bathroom at the same time, a vanity cabinet will definitely do the trick.

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Debunking Myths To Home Buying

Finally ready to make the transition into home ownership? That’s awesome, and in this exciting time you can be turning to friends and family for an insight into the process. However, there seems to be a circulation of misinformation spreading around, so we’re here to clear up a few myths.

1. THE FIRST STEP IS SEARCHING FOR A HOME

You know the saying, “Don’t put the cart before the horse,” well that’s important to remember when it comes to buying a home. You don’t want to start looking for a house until you have gotten to sit down with a lender and discuss what the bank will qualify you for. If you fall in love with a house that’s $250,000 and come to find out you’re only qualified for $200,000 you can get your hopes crushed and waste a lot of time. Don’t start the process on the wrong foot and make sure the numbers line up.

2. YOU DON’T NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT

For starts, when buying a home, 99% of the time the buyer’s agent gets paid by the sellers. That random 1% can be for odd circumstances. So you’re getting to use the services of a real estate agent for FREE. Having a real estate agent on your side means you’ll get to see homes that aren’t as readily available on public searches, you avoid outdated listings and scammers (there are lots of them), and you have protection when it comes to navigating the legalities of contracts and buying a home. Why wouldn’t you want an awesome negotiator working to ensure you get the best from the transaction? For FREE!

3. YOU CAN’T BUY A HOME WITH BAD CREDIT

Fortunately for some, this is a myth. Lenders and banks come by the hundreds of thousands and all though there are a few loan options, a lot of lenders can work with credit scores down to the low to mid 500’s. Get in touch with an agent to help you connect with the right lender who can help you potentially approved. There is a lot of factors that go into approvals, but your credit doesn’t have to be a sore thumb during the process. However, you will be doing yourself a favor if you connect with a credit repair specialist to at least get those numbers in the 600’s. A better score will lower you interest rate.

4. YOUR DOWN PAYMENT HAS TO BE 20%

Think you have to sell an arm and a leg to buy a home? Not at all! An FHA loan only requires 3.5% while a conventional only requires 5%. There are a lot of programs that can potentially help you with down payment assistance or be 0% down mortgage. USDA and VA loans are the most popular 0% down programs. If you qualify, this can take a big chunk off the amount of cash you have to bring to the closing table.

5. DOWN PAYMENTS ARE THE ONLY UPFRONT COST

This is one of the biggest misconceptions. There is a lot of cost that goes into buying a home, and that includes upfront costs. One of the mandatory ones are a termite and appraisal. If you are getting a mortgage, the home will have to appraise and get a letter stating there are no termites in the home. Termite can range between $25-$75 dollars. An appraisal can range from $300-$700 dollars. Aside from your down payment, you then have to pay for closing costs. And NO, they are not the same thing. Closing costs can range anywhere between 3-6% of the purchase price. In certain markets, this can be negotiated for sellers to cover by rolling into the offer price, but whether that decision is smart to do or not when it comes to landing your dream home will need to be discussed with your agent.

Now that you have some knowledge to get the process started, get in touch with an agent who will help you get through the process as smoothly as possible.

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Spark A Bidding War

Ready to make a move? Have a certain figure in mind that you need to sell for? Depending on your market, you might be able to get a little more than what you may be needing. Go over with your agent if setting a bidding war is smart for the sale of your home, and if they give the green light, here are a few things to consider to help get your sales price over asking after starting a bidding competition.

 

1. ATTRACT MORE BUYERS

When there isn’t much interest in a property, buyer’s get nervous and suspicious that there may be something wrong with the home that they may be missing, and that could sometimes be further from the truth. You want to price your home competitively to entice more showings. When you price your home right under the market standard, it leads to more showings, more appointments, and more excitement around your home.

 

2. PRICE IT TO MOVE IT

You want to make sure your price gets buyers interested in your property. Even if they end up paying more than asking, the excitement from feeling like they are getting a deal and landing your home sets the right mood for buyers to WANT your property. Always price the home in a way that is going to appeal to a large audience. Pricing a home at $399,900 can generally generate more foot traffic than one listed at $400,000. Advertising a home for sale that is listed for slightly under the market value can garner a lot of interest, which can lead to the home selling for more than what the seller originally wanted.

 

3. START UP THE BUZZ

Make sure you work with an agent that has the ability to start up a coming soon buzz around your home. You want to let the market know that your home is going to be coming soon, and start up conversation and interest. This gives time for word about your home to spread to get more foot traffic and competition on your house.

 

4. STAGING IS KEY

It’s without question that to get over market value for your home, it has to be in tip-top condition. Discuss with your agent the importance of having your home professionally cleaned and stage to attract more buyers. Starting up a buzz won’t lead to much if buyers walk into your home and turned off by orders, unappealing lighting, or rooms that are not properly staged. You want to allow buyers and opportunity to see your home in the best light the first time they walk through your door.

 

5. CREATE A DEADLINE

Have your agent set a deadline for offers, say a Monday or Tuesday, right after a weekend of doing open houses. This can generate a sense of urgency around your home, letting buyers think there is a large amount of interest and to get offers in quickly. Setting them up with this state of urgency generally makes them want to put their best foot forward with their first offer.

6. SWEETEN THE DEAL

To generate a little more excitement and foot traffic, you can offer an incentive for whomever purchases the home, or set a fun giveaway during an open house. Some people have given away cars, tickets to a major event – like the Super Bowl, given away vacation tickets, etc. Doing an out-of-the-box giveaway helps to generate organic buzz around your home. Some giveaways have even landed seller’s homes in the local news. More buzz means more potential buyers, which means a potential opportunity for a bidding war to get you a better sales price.