Cyber Monday has become a great way to avoid the crowds of Black Friday. You can even shop while you’re at work! (As long as your boss doesn’t catch you! LOL)
Contact your favorite agent at Advantage Real Estate!
With guest season (also known as THE HOLIDAYS) coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.
Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):
You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!
With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)
Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.
You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.
(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)
Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.
You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.
If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.
If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.
The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.
Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)
It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.
Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.
You know, when you think about it, we should be obsessing over fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning. After all, you’re about to shut yourself inside for months with all the dust and dirt your home has collected during the hot, dusty, open-window days of summer. And who wants to inhale that?!
The EPA even estimates that indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. So here’s a checklist to help you breathe easy all winter long in your home.
You’re going to be shut in all winter with these germ havens, so now’s a good time to clean them thoroughly. Take them outside where you can blast the insides with a garden hose, then add disinfectant.
For an environmentally safe way to sterilize these nasty grime collectors, use undiluted hydrogen peroxide or vinegar mixed 50/50 with water. Caution! Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar — the result is harmful peracetic acid. Regular bleach is an effective disinfectant (one part bleach to six parts water), but we much prefer environmentally safe.
Let the garbage cans sit for an hour, then pour out the contents and scrub the insides with a stiff bristle brush to remove any residue. Rinse and, if possible, let the wastebasket dry in direct sunlight, which helps eliminate bacteria.
Take the holder and the brush outside, and spray wash thoroughly with a garden hose. Immerse the holder and brush in a bucket of hot water mixed with one of these solutions:
Let everything sit in the solution for a couple of hours, then rinse the holder and brush with a hose and place in direct sunlight to dry.
You might shift furniture around so you can vacuum the floor, but there’s another side to the story — the underside.
Tilt upholstered chairs and couches all the way back (much easier with two people) to expose the bottoms. The dustcovers tacked underneath furniture can catch dreck and dust bunnies, so vacuum them off, being careful not to press too hard on the fabric.
Tables and countertops aren’t the only household items with horizontal surfaces. In fact, just about everything in your house except Rover’s tennis ball has some kind of horizontal surface where dust and dirt will nestle, often unnoticed. You’ll want to clean the top horizontal edges of:
Your fridge needs to be cleaned periodically so that it operates at peak efficiency. Ignore this chore and face another $5 to $10 per month in utility costs. Worst case: a visit from an appliance repair pro who’ll charge $75 to $150 per hour!
The object is to clean the condenser coils. Here’s how:
If the condenser coils are on the back of the refrigerator, then pull the unit out completely, and unplug it while you work on it. Brush or vacuum the coils to clean them, and clean up any dirt and dust on the floor.
Also, check to make sure your freezer vents are clear. Freezers circulate air to reduce frost, but piling up too much stuff in front of the little grill-like vents inside your freezer blocks their business.
If the condenser coils are on the bottom of the fridge, then you’ll need to clean them from the front of the unit.
Take off the bottom faceplate to expose the coils.
Clean dust using a condenser-cleaning brush ($8) or a long, thin vacuum attachment made for cleaning under refrigerators ($14).
You should still pull your refrigerator all the way out and vacuum up dirt and dust that accumulates in back of the unit. Unplug it while you work on it.
Put down a piece of cardboard so that grit under the wheels doesn’t scratch your flooring.
Keep winter’s slush and gunk at bay by making your entryway a dirt guardian.
By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.
Clean windows inside and out with a homemade non-toxic solution:
Wipe clean and polish using microfiber cloths.
Those big blades on your ceiling fan are great at moving air, but when they’re idle they’re big dust magnets — dust settles on the top surfaces where you can’t see it.
Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind. Here’s an easy way to clean them: Take an old pillowcase and gently cover a blade. Pull it back slowly to remove the dust. The dust stays inside the pillowcase, instead of all over the floor, the furniture, your hair (ugh!).
Yeah, this is a no-brainer, which is why it’s last on this list. But everything else you do could be moot if you’re not changing your filters at least once every 60 days (more if you’re sensitive to allergies).
Air filters for furnaces are rated by level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing dirt, mold spores, and pet dander.
Filters are rated one of two ways (you’ll see the ratings on the packaging); higher numbers mean better efficiency, but there’s a point of diminishing returns — some filters with extremely high ratings also restrict air flow, making your HVAC work so hard that the system heats and cools inefficiently.
Cheap filters cost about $2, but won’t do you much good. You’re better off paying $12 to $17 for a pleated filter with a 1250 MPR, or $20 to $25 for a filter rated 2,400.
Happy cleaning (and breathing!) this winter.
The temps are starting to drop; the smell of wood smoke is in the air.
Temps are more chilly than warm. That’s when veteran homeowners know it’s time to do these six things if they want to avoid grief or overspending:
Whisper to them. Do a rain dance. Whatever it takes to get your old appliances to wait until fall to go on the fritz. Manufacturers bring out their latest models during the fall, and store owners offer big sales on appliances they want to move out — like last year’s most popular dishwasher. So September, October, and November are great months to buy.
But October is right in the middle — when there’s still plenty of selection, and retailers might be more willing to haggle.
Refrigerators are the exception because new models don’t come out until spring.
Most have a switch to allow the ceiling fan blades to rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise — one way pushes air down to create a nice breeze and the other sucks air up, helping to distribute the heat. Think counterclockwise when it’s warm and clockwise when it’s cool.
Daylight is about to dwindle so why not get as much of it as you can? Clean off all the bugs, dust, and grime from your windows while the weather is still warm enough to do so. For streak-free windows, combine ¼-cup of white vinegar with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of eco-friendly dish detergent and 2 cups of water.
If window cleaning isn’t a DIY job at your home, schedule a professional window cleaner (who, unlike most of us, is able to do it even when temperatures plummet) before the end of the month. The closer it gets to the holidays, the busier they get. Bright sunshine on winter’s darkest days makes it totally worthwhile.
Whether you hire your heating company’s technician or a contractor to do it, they’ll clean soot and corrosion from the combustion chamber, replace filters, and check the whole system for leaks, clogs, or damage. Nothing pairs with a pending blizzard better than the assurance that you’ll be weathering the storm with warm air piping through the vents and cocoa in hand.
It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.
Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.
If you’ve ever dealt with a burst pipe, you know it’s a sad, wet disaster worth preventing. To avoid the stressful (not to mention, expensive) ordeal, prep your home’s exposed pipes with foam or heat tape — choosing which one will work best with your climate — to keep those pipes toasty. Remember: The most at-risk pipes are often those in unheated areas such as an attics, crawl spaces, and garages, so secure those first.
Your Mexican beach vacation was great, but, man, those margaritas sure can put on the pounds. It’s been two months, and you’re still carrying around an extra tenner — despite a new running routine and a lot of #&*&@$ kale. So why isn’t your weight dropping?
It’s like that with energy bills, too. Eighty-nine percent of us believe we’re doing the right things to lower energy costs, and almost half of us think our homes already are energy efficient. Yet, 59% of us say our bills are going up, not down, despite our efforts to economize.
Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy efficiency and that did this research, says we’re rationalizing: “I bought these [LEDs] so now I can leave the lights on and not pay more. I ate the salad, so I can have the chocolate cake.” Denial much?
Her research also shows consumers, on average, made fewer than three energy-efficient improvements in 2012 compared with almost five in 2010. It looks like we’re giving in to higher utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You just need to know what improvements really will make the biggest difference to lower your bills. There are five, and the good news is that they’re really (seriously) cheap. You can go straight to them here, but there’s also another thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime — and will drop your costs:
Think about it. Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later, says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a research and policy-making nonprofit focused on improving buildings’ energy efficiency.
With other services you get a choice of whether to buy based on price. With energy you don’t get that choice — unless you intentionally decide not to buy. You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.
That mindfulness is important because your relationship with energy is getting more intense. You (and practically every other person on the planet) are plugging in more and more. Used to be that heating and cooling were the biggest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that dubious honor, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the research arm of the Department of Energy (DOE).
“Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later.” — Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation
Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts:
1. Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code. Don’t bank on it. Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements, says Lee Ann Head, vice president of research and insights with the Shelton Group.
2. Utilities are out to get us: They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do. It might feel cathartic to blame them (Shelton’s research shows consumers blame utilities above oil companies and the government), but to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.
3. Energy improvements should pay for themselves. Nice wish, but it doesn’t work that way. When the Shelton Group asked consumers what they would expect to recoup if they invested $4,000 in energy-efficient home improvements, they said about 75% to 80%.
Unless you invest in some kind of renewable energy source like geothermal and solar, you won’t see that kind of savings. (Sorry.) Even if you do all the right things, the most you should expect is a 20% to 30% reduction annually, says Head, which is still significant over the long term.
What does 30% translate into? $618 in savings per year or $52 per month, based on the average household energy spend of $2,060 per year, according to Lawrence Berkeley and EIA.
4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact. That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects like replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements, Shelton says.
There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows. They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and, yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft).
But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs. You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill, according to EnergyStar. (The savings are higher if you replace single-pane windows.) Or you could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill, or $227.
1. Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:
Savings: Up to $227 a year — even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.
2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give your HVAC a tune-up. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster.
Savings: Up to $412 a year.
3. Program your thermostat. Shelton says 40% of consumers in her survey admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings. She thinks it’s even higher.
Savings: Up to $180 a year.
4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs. They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective.
Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-rated models.
5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set your tank heater to 120 degrees — not the 140 degrees most are set to out of the box. Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.
Savings: $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.
NOTE: Resist the urge to total these five numbers for annual savings. The estimated savings for each product or activity can’t be summed because of “interactive effects,” says DOE. If you first replace your central AC with a more efficient one, saving, say, 15% on energy consumption, and then seal ducts, you wouldn’t save as much total energy on duct sealing as you would have if you had first sealed them. There’s just less energy to save at that point.
Your utility may have funds available to help pay for energy improvement. Contact them directly, or visit DSIRE, a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state. Energy Star has a discount and rebate finder, too.
Your home is in the perfect location, came at the perfect price, with the perfect lot. (Yay southern exposure!)
But the home itself? Perfect isn’t the adjective you’d use. But you knew that moving in, and now you’re ready to start making it just right.
But where to begin? How about with data? Data is that friend who tells you like it really is.
Because while any home improvement that brings you joy is priceless, not all add as much home equity as you might expect.
Here are the best seven home remodeling projects with equity-building might:
This one might be a bit of a surprise. (Maybe you expected a major kitchen reno to top the list.)
But if your yard is one of your home’s imperfect parts, a little color and a touch of hardscaping can make a huge difference to your curb appeal, which is a great immediate equity-booster.
What does a basic landscaping upgrade include?
The cost: $4,750
The return: 105% at $5,000
If you find yourself sprinting for the buckets when it starts to sprinkle, getting a new roof should be your No. 1 to-do. Measuring rainfall from the indoors isn’t cool.
The cost: $7,600
The return: 105% at $8,000
Considering it’s what’s between you and the elements, it’s a no-brainer.
Not sure if you need a new roof? Signs you might include:
You flip on the TV to see that your fave home reno-ing duo is it at again, flipping a ranch that’s stuck in the ‘80s.
They make it to the living room, pull back the dingy carpet to reveal hardwood floors in great condition. They’re psyched — and for good reason.
Hardwood floors are a timeless classic. Refinishing is a no-brainer. Neither will you regret adding new hardwood floors if you have none.
The cost to refinish: $2,500
The return: 100% at $2,500
The cost to buy new: $5,500
The return: 91% at $5,000
If your home is your castle, your yard is your kingdom. After giving your yard a much-needed overhaul, you need a place to watch over you handiwork. How about that deck or patio you’ve been dreaming of?
The cost of a patio: $6,400
The return: 102% at $6525
The cost of a deck: $9,450
The return: 106% at $10,000
Insulation is tucked out of sight, so it’s often out of mind — that is, until you’re forced to wear your parka indoors because it’s sooo darn cold.
The cost: $2,100
The return: 95% at $2,000 plus the added savings on heating and cooling costs
No surprise that a garage door replacement project made it onto this #winning list — a new garage door provides a big boost for your home’s curb appeal at a relatively modest cost.
The cost: $2,300 (for a two-door)
The return: 87% at $2,000
There are options galore, too. A host of factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel, and glass window insets are just some of the possibilities that’ll give your doors bankable personality.
In any color! And never paint again.
Those are two of the three benefits of vinyl siding. The third, of course, is your home’s value.
But if long-time homeowners look at you funny when you mention vinyl siding, just tell them that today’s vinyl is way better than what they remember because of fade-resistant finishes and transferable lifetime warranties.
The cost: $12,000
The return: 83% at $10,000
Want fiber-cement siding instead? It also shows a strong payback of 79%. Although it’s the pricier option — you’ll spend $19,100 — it has one thing vinyl still lacks — the perception of quality.
And quality matters. In a survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “quality” was the one of the most important traits that home buyers focused on when house hunting.
Know where your main water shutoff valve is in case you need to shut off the water to your entire house.
Almost all homes have one main shutoff valve directly before the water meter and another directly after. Where the meter is located depends on the climate in your area. In cold climates, the meter and main shutoff valves are located inside, usually in a basement or other warm area to prevent freezing. In milder climates, the meter and its two shutoff valves may be attached to an exterior wall or nestled in an underground box with a removable lid.
Find the electrical panel so you know where to shut of the power to you whole house or an individual circuit in the case of an emergency.
You’ll usually find the main circuit breaker panel—a gray, metal box—in a utility room, garage or basement. Don’t worry about opening the panel’s door. All the dangerous stuff is behind another steel cover. Behind the door is the main breaker for the entire house (usually at the top of the panel) and two rows of other breakers below it, each controlling individual circuits. If you’re lucky, there will be a guide that indicates which outlets and receptacles are served by each circuit. The City of Moberly requires this guide be labeled by which room each circuit serves.
One of the fastest ways to create problems with a forced-air heating and cooling system is to forget to replace the filter. Locate the furnace filter and buy replacements if the previous owners didn’t leave you a stash. Replace the filter (and get in the habit of doing it every month).
You won’t be able to make all of the home improvements you want to make right away and it’s best to live in your home for at least a couple of months before starting any major projects. Something that seems like a must-do when you first move in may quickly fall to the bottom of the wish list after you’ve actually lived in your home for awhile.
So, choose one room that doesn’t require too much work and make that space your new-home getaway. You’ll have a place, in your colors and style, where you can relax and dream about the day when every room in your home is just the way you want it.
If you have young kids, it might be best to set up their room first to give them a semblance of “home.”
It’s wise to reach out and extend a friendly gesture to your neighbors as soon as possible. You want to know those around you so that everyone can look out for each other. It’s hard to know if a situation is suspicious if you don’t know the people involved. Establishing yourself in your neighborhood can also give you access to inside information, like who’s the best plumber in the area and which roofing company to avoid. Even if you’re an introvert, you’ll be happiest if you’re in good standing with your neighbors. Be especially sure to meet those with vegetable gardens…who knows, maybe they will share tomatoes? LOL
If you don’t have keyless locks, be sure to hide a house key so you don’t get locked out. Consider a location other than under the welcome mat, like in a garden hose or under a flower pot.
This piece is a self-explanatory stand-alone piece. But I feel like I should mention this… Read it all the way through. At first it might sound negative. It isn’t. Trust me, there’s a lot of copywriting skills in this one. This one is meant to get into the minds of people who are not convinced buying a home is worthwhile. Anyone else posting about June being Homeownership Month is NOT going this route. This will set you apart.
Are you aware that June is National Homeownership month?
Probably not. Because you’re too busy working to afford the home you live in, whether you rent it or own it.
If you poke around and read anything you can find about it, you’re being urged to recognize and celebrate the benefits of homeownership.
That seems kind of a weird thing to ask you to do. Do you really have the time or care? What’re you supposed to do, throw a party? Sit alone and contemplate it? Invite some friends out for coffee and chat about it?
You’ve got to figure that the people who actively promote it probably have their reasons and motives for pushing it. (You know, like real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and the government.)
It makes you wonder…
Why do they push it, other than to make money?
Is it really the “American Dream”? Or is it just a packaged ploy?
Is it all it’s cracked up to be? What about all the people who were recently hurt by the housing market and getting in over their heads?
What about the economy and jobs? What about making enough money to even afford a house?
And, what about all the headaches and worries that come with homeownership?
Are you being sold on something unachievable, or not even all that desirable?
OK, first off…
Homeownership is not for everyone.
There always seems to be this push to increase the percentage of homeowners. It gets wrapped in reasons why it’s good for you, your community, the country as a whole…maybe even the whole universe.
Pushing to increase the percentage of homeownership for the sake of statistics and percentages is wrong.
Lots of people shouldn’t own a home. Maybe some people shouldn’t even be allowed to own a home even if they qualify financially. That’s what leads to problems, because it’s a responsibility not everyone can handle.
Besides, if everyone owned property it wouldn’t be as special. As coveted. As much of a dream.
So, if you do question whether homeownership is “worth it”, maybe it isn’t the worst thing. Maybe you shouldn’t own a home.
It’s easy enough to let the people who really want to own property, and believe in the value of it, own all of the real estate.
Just don’t buy any…
One of the catch phrases you’ve probably heard is, “There’s pride in homeownership.”
That’s kind of the cover-all reason given as to why more and more people should own their own homes.
You can’t entirely diminish the fact that there is pride and value in owning real estate. There is.
Nor can you entirely diminish the actual benefits of ownership, like building wealth, tax incentives, and not throwing money out the window and building someone else’s wealth.
But there’s certainly an inability for some people to buy real estate. Some people will never achieve homeownership.
And there’s certainly risk and worry involved. Not everyone can handle that.
It’s certainly understandable that lots of people shy away from buying real estate so soon after the real estate bubble burst, and the slow recovery. Some people are still recovering financially. Some people watched their parents struggle and worry, only to lose their home.
But for those who can and do own real estate, there is pride. And there’s appreciation.
Because while not everyone should own real estate…at least now everyone can.
It used to be only a select few who could own land.
Now almost everyone has the right to own property…if they want to and have the ability.
This isn’t the feudal system where there are only a handful of Lords who’ve been granted a piece of land to look after by a King. (Side note: Do you think any Lords ever questioned the value of owning land?)
You can choose to be the lord of some land. You just have to want to, and be financially qualified to.
While you don’t have to be “chosen”…nobody’s giving it to you either.
So, if you can financially afford to, there should be some pride and appreciation in owning a little (or large) piece of this planet, with a “castle” to call your own.
So, when you do decide to buy some real estate, you should enjoy the pride, appreciation, and respect for the right and privilege to do so. You are essentially choosing to be your own land Lord.
There are places in this world you still can’t. So, imagine that. Imagine not having the choice.
With all that in mind, is National Homeownership Month more meaningful to you?
Does it put homeownership in an objective light? Is it appealing to you? Does it make you want to own real estate? Does it make you want to own more real estate if you already own some?
Don’t get swept up in the hype of homeownership month, or anyone just trying to persuade you of the benefits of homeownership, no matter what month it is.
The best way to figure out if you should be a homeowner is to speak with a serious, objective real estate agent. One who takes counseling clients more seriously than pushing the pride of homeownership, just so they can make a sale.
Give me a ring if you’re looking for some good, objective counsel. I’d love to be part of that round table.
People often ask, “How’s the Market”?
Who you choose to represent you when you buy or sell your home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make during your move. Your real estate agent can make the process easy, quick, and painless – or long, expensive, and painful.
Here are 5 adjectives you should for in your real estate agent if you want to get the most out of your sale or purchase:
Real estate is a tough world. There are seemingly endless challenges to navigate: the house you love was snatched up by someone else, someone put a bid in on your home and then pulled out at the last minute, there’s issues with the neighbors or zoning or construction. That’s why you need a real estate agent who is tenacious, never gives up, and doesn’t stop until you have successfully bought or sold your home.
If you work with a real estate agent who gives up when things don’t go as planned, you’re never going to buy or sell your home. The best real estate agents are the ones who not only have plan B, but plan C, D, and E ready and waiting. When things fall through, they don’t let it get them down. They keep pushing and coming up with creative solutions to close your real estate transaction – no matter what.
Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s especially important when it comes to real estate. You need to be able to trust your agent: to negotiate the best deals, to tell you the truth about your properties, to give you the right advice when it comes to buying or selling. If you work with an agent who bends the truth, withholds information, or – worst case scenario – flat out lies, you’re going to end up losing time, money, and patience throughout the process.
There’s a lot to know in the world of real estate, and as a buyer or seller, you probably aren’t aware of about 95% of it. Your real estate agent should be savvy, smart, and able to help you navigate everything you don’t know about real estate.
Look for an agent that can walk you through the entire process from A to Z. You want someone who is an expert in your area, who specializes in your type of transaction (buying or selling), and who can break down complex real estate jargon into easy-to-understand terms so you know exactly what’s happening at every stage of your purchase or sale.
Every great real estate agent has the heart of a salesperson – and the persuasive skills to match. There are tons of instances in which you’ll need your real estate agent to turn on their persuasive charm. Real estate agents have to use persuasion to negotiate the best offers, to convince sellers to accept your bid, to convince potential owners that your home is the right buy for them. If your real estate agent doesn’t have any sales skills, the buying or selling process is going to be long, drawn out, and never get to the close.
Look for a real estate agent that could sell ice to an eskimo; if they can do that, they can buy or sell your house.
Buying and selling property is an involved business: there are papers to sign, inspections to schedule, documents to process. You want to work with a thorough, detail-oriented real estate agent who will ensure that every i is dotted and t is crossed.
In addition to managing the transactional portion of your real estate venture, you want a real estate agent who’s so thorough they ensure that YOU don’t forget anything on your end. A thorough real estate agent will come armed with a checklist of not only what they need to do to process the purchase or sale, but what you need to do on your end in order to tie up any loose ends.
It’s easy to spot a thorough real estate agent. Do they send you calendar reminders for home showings? Is their day planner meticulously organized? Do they jokingly refer to themselves as “type A?” If so, you’ve got a winner.
The right real estate agent is essential in making the process of buying or selling a home quick, easy, and a financial win. And when you lock in a real estate agent with all of these adjectives, you’re well on your way to real estate success.
When you’re selling your home, one of the keys to successfully finding a buyer – and getting the best price for your home – is effectively staging. Staging refers to setting up your home in a way that maximizes its saleability to potential buyers and can involve everything from minor repairs to a complete overhaul on your home decor.
Staging is an incredibly important part of the selling process, and effective staging is a key to fetching top dollar for your home. If possible, you should consider hiring a professional stager. But, in case you want to DIY and stage your home on your own, here are 4 staging secrets to make sure you get the most out of the staging process:
One of the quickest, easiest, and most cost effective ways to update your space and make it more appealing to potential buyers is with a coat of paint. Painting a room can completely change the feel and make the space feel more open and inviting.
If you haven’t painted your home in a while, you’ll definitely want to repaint before you start showing your home to potential buyers. You’ll also want to repaint if you have a number of colors on the walls of your home; the purpose of staging is to showcase your home in a way that allows potential buyers to picture themselves purchasing the home and living there. If they don’t agree with your color choices, it can create a roadblock to them being able to see themselves in the home.
When you paint, choose neutral colors, like an off-white or beige. These colors are universally appealing and will also make your rooms appear more open and spacious.
One of the biggest secrets of effectively staging your home is that you only get to make a first impression once. Your potential buyer is only going to see your home for the first time once, and during that initial viewing, they’re going to make snap judgements on whether or not your home is right for them. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot and lose them before they’ve even had a chance to see the entire house.
When it comes to making a first impression, curb appeal is critical. If your potential buyer drives up to your home and is immediately turned off by an unkempt lawn, a cracked driveway, or peeling paint, it’s going to be hard for them to overcome that initial impression, even if they love the rest of the home.
Before you start showing your home, make sure you do some work on the exterior so that the first impression is a good one. Have your lawn manicured, fix any issues with the driveway, refresh the exterior paint, and add plants and flowers on the path leading up to your front door in order to make your property seem more inviting.
The last thing that potential buyers want to see when they’re viewing a home is a ton of clutter and personal items. Again, the point of staging is to create an environment in your home where potential buyers can picture themselves living there. But if you have your children’s sporting gear spilling out of the closets, your family portraits lining every available surface, and an entire room you’re using for storage, it’s going to be hard for your potential buyers to separate your stuff from the space.
When you’re showing your home, remove as many personal effects as possible. It’s ok to have a photo or two, but try to make the space feel as neutral as possible. You’ll also want to declutter; clean out closets, cabinets, and the garage to make everything feel more spacious.
You’ll also want to get rid of any unnecessary furniture or decor that makes your space feel cluttered. When you’re staging, taking a minimalist approach to furniture and decor will have the most positive impact on potential buyers.
This should go without saying, but before you stage your home, you need to make sure every inch of your home is thoroughly and properly cleaned. This is not a time to cut corners; if a potential buyer comes into your home and sees dust bunnies under the bed or a ring of grime around your bathtub, it’s going to be a major turnoff and could potentially cost you the sale.
Spend an entire day cleaning your house from top to bottom. Or, if cleaning isn’t your expertise, hire an expert from your local cleaning business or a site like Handy.
With these 4 staging secrets, your house will be staged and ready to sell in no time.
First Quarter statistics are out from the Randolph County Multiple Listing Service! Sales remain steady during the first quarter with 54 sales this time last year. The sales volume has improved, with $5.06 million in 2016. The average residential sales price in 2016 was $98,754, which shows strong sales prices. The median sales price in 2016 was $85,800. Thank you to everyone who played a part in this. Just love to see a “seller’s market” in the Randolph County area!
There’s an inexperienced real estate agent in your town.
He hasn’t sold any homes yet.
He wants to drum up some business.
So, he climbs up onto your roof and paints what he estimates to be the value of your home.
He feels like this could be a win-win:
YOU get to know the value of your house, so he was helpful to you, without even having to meet with him…
… and HE gets to show you how that he knows his stuff. Hopefully you’ll turn to him for help once you want to sell your home.
But you’re kind of ticked off, aren’t you?
First off, this guy painted on your roof. That’s just vandalism.
Beyond that, he wasn’t even close to accurate! The value he painted up there is tens of thousands of dollars off.
You notice he did the same thing to all the other houses in the area.
He seems off on the value of all of them.
It’s still kind of intriguing, though, because you’re like, “Hmm, I always felt like Bill’s place was worth less than mine. Looks like I was right. But there’s no way Gary’s house is worth more than mine, that agent is craaaazy. Unless maybe Gary did some major remodeling inside…”
But how would the agent know? He never even went inside your neighbor’s house. Or your house. Or anyone else’s house.
He just eyeballed everyone’s house from outside, and took a quick peek at some data available to the public. Then slapped his estimate up on your roof for everyone to see.
His estimates are all over the place. Some high. Some low. Once in a while he seems to be somewhat in the ballpark.
Beside the fact that this guy vandalized your roof, now you have people sizing up the value of your home based upon a number he came up with, without even seeing inside your home.
It was careless and thoughtless.
He lacked respect for your privacy, your equity, and ultimately your wealth. The value of your home can now be viewed by anyone, for whatever reason they feel.
It would be even worse if you were in the middle of trying to sell your home, and now you have buyers pulling up, seeing your painted roof, and considering his estimate when (and if) they make an offer.
You’d probably want to report him to the police, his real estate broker, the real estate commission… and all of your friends, family and neighbors.
You’d want everyone to know not to trust this guy, or give him any business.
You’ve probably seen or heard about websites where you can look up the value of your house (or anyone else’s house) for free.
It seems great because there’s no need to even talk to a real estate agent. Just pop in the address, and voila, you get to see the value of the home.
You might figure that it’s super accurate, since they use fancy algorithms and stuff.
However, these online real estate valuation sites are all basically painting a number on your roof, without ever having gone inside, and without ever having sold a house. And they’re definitely not experts in your local market.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it.
They’re using public data to come up with their estimates. They didn’t steal anything. They didn’t actually paint on your roof (they just hover a value over it digitally).
They post disclaimers about their accuracy (or lack thereof), at least if you really, really look for them.
Plus, who would you even report them to anyway?!
The thing is, these sites exist because people tend to like them, and look at them. They wouldn’t exist if people didn’t continue to click on them. But people do.
They certainly are convenient, and entertaining, even if they are not accurate.
Many people just don’t want to deal with real estate agents, until and unless they have to. But that’s actually what you should be doing if you want an accurate value of your home.
Great real estate agents take a lot of time and pride in estimating the value of a home. This is not something you can do remotely by simply reviewing public data and algorithms.
In order to be accurate, even a local real estate agent needs to see inside of your home.
So, instead of encouraging these online valuation sites to exist, by visiting their sites and clicking around…
…click on a local real estate agent’s site, and invite him or her in to take a look at your house, and come up with an accurate value.
Don’t rely on an online valuation.
And, whenever possible, spread the word about the inaccuracy of these online valuations because they can affect the perceived value of your home… and beyond. And they will exist as long as people continue to pay them any attention.
Pay attention to real estate agents instead.
Selling your house is super stressful and can be very difficult. There are so many things that need to get done! Painting, prepping, patching, perfecting… and that’s just before you list it. Then you have to get it spotless and take photographs for the listing. Who should you list it with, is there really a difference in agencies? What should you look for in a realtor? Having been in this business over 25 years, I have a few things I’d like to share with you…
Curb Appeal: You only get one chance to make a good first impression. So don’t neglect your yard and the exterior of your home. A good rule of thumb is to visit some newer neighborhood homes in your area. What is on the porch? What does the landscaping look like? If you find elements you like, feel free to copy them. Add pretty, personalized touches that go above and beyond that a buyer is going to appreciate. For instance, a front porch could have an American flag and maybe some potted flowering plants.
Warm Welcome: My broker/mentor once told me that the first room in your house should make everyone who walks in want to see the rest of it. Make a statement in your entry. Your entry should give clues as to what to expect throughout the rest of your house. Make sure the paint is fresh. I would recommend going through and touching up the floor boards and trim, as well as the banister. No detail is too small! Clean sells!
Declutter: Make sure your rooms appear open, fresh, and clutter free. I am all about accessories and decor, but not too much. I have also heard that you should remove family photographs. However, sometimes the photographs are so much a part of the decor and if they are used pretty minimally, you may decide to keep some of them displayed. We want a buyer looking at the room and asking him or herself if their furniture will fit there…not “who are these people in the photographs?”
Add Appealing Elements: So you just got rid of your clutter, now it’s time to bring back a few elements that will look clean and appealing to potential buyers and while adding a “homey” feel. Think vases filled with fresh flowers, pretty soaps by the kitchen sink, a couple antique candle sticks. You get the picture.
Hire a Photographer: I’m a Realtor. I take photographs of homes a lot. But when it comes to listing my own house, I’d hire a professional real estate photographer. I have a great camera but I just can’t capture the whole room. The professional photographer is worth every penny. Photos really help sell a house. Good ones, that is. They can capture the essence of a room…
List It Baby: Let the beauty of the Multiple Listing Service work for you! There’s so many steps a Realtor is trained to help you with, over 170 steps last time I counted…Advantage Real Estate is the ONLY agency in the Moberly market that belongs to TWO Multiple Listing Services. This exposure to Randolph County real estate licensees as well as the Columbia, MO real estate agencies is a huge benefit to you when selling! (Not all of our area competitors are even in an MLS. )
What to Look for in a Realtor: Here’s my thing… I think that if your house is listed and the photos look good and your pricing is within reason you are going to get showings regardless of who is listing your house. In all my years of experience, I’ve talked to hundreds of sellers, and the most important thing they want is frequent and honest communication. Sure, sometimes I don’t have good news to tell them. But feedback after showing is important, market changes are important, any pricing changes to your competition is important. Just to hear from their agent is important. Ask around for references for which agent to help you!
There you have it! I hope these tips make your life just a little easier as you prepare to sell your home. A call to Advantage Real Estate, or a referral to one of our agents is much appreciated! 660-263-3393
Just reminiscing a bit today…our office is finishing up 20 years in business in the Moberly area market and starting our 21st year in 2017. Many of you do not know that my parents started Advantage Real Estate and were experienced real estate agents moving here from the Houston Texas area. They had 3 successful real estate offices at one time. The oil recession changed a lot of lives back then. They started Advantage Real Estate with a guarantee for service that states “if you are not happy with our service, you can withdraw at no obligation.“ When I joined their team after being at another major franchise in town, I kid you not: someone either called or came by every day of the week for a year and told us they were glad there was another choice in town! We’ve built our business by staying in touch with our clients, giving them feedback after showings, keeping them informed as much as possible every step of the way in their transaction. For that we say Thank You to all that we have touched through the years! We’d be happy to help you or a friend you know in their next real estate transaction. Have them call one of our friendly agents at Advantage Real Estate. 660-263-3393
Have you ever walked into an open house, or called a real estate agent about a listing, and within minutes, they’re asking you if you are “pre-approved” for a mortgage?
If you haven’t, then you have never walked into an open house or called an agent. Or at least enough of them…
Just wait. It’ll happen.
And you’re going to feel like it’s pretty pushy for them to ask that.
It makes you feel like telling real estate agents this knock-knock joke…
Real estate agent: Who’s there?
Real Estate Agent: Nunya who!?
You: Nunya business if I’m pre-approved or not! Just show me the house, and I’ll get pre-approved if I even like the house. I can definitely get approved for a mortgage. Probably way more than this stupid house anyway. So, stop asking if I’m pre-approved.
Try it…maybe the agent will laugh! Or, maybe not. Depends…
It depends on the agent. Agents have different personalities. They all come across different ways. They all handle how they meet, greet, and chat with consumers in different ways. There’s no one way to “be”, as a real estate agent.
But every single real estate agent should be asking you if you’re pre-approved. But many do not. Because they feel like it is a bit pushy and forward. Because he or she worries about offending you. But they should ask…
…because it’s entirely relevant for them to know.
…because it’s entirely important for you to be pre-approved.
It might come across as a pushy, or invasive question. Maybe that is because of how an agent asks the question. Or when the agent asks the question. Or, simply because you don’t know that it’s a question that should be asked.
But it is not a joking matter.
And you should expect the question, be prepared to say that you are pre-approved, and…you should actually want the agent to ask you that question.
If you were going on a first date with someone, and one of the first things the person asked about was how much money you make, and can you afford the date, you’d feel like that was pushy and weird.
Rightfully so. You don’t go in for a kiss the minute you meet each other, let alone ask for a hand in marriage. There’s some build-up.
Beyond that, there’s some time that needs to be spent together before probing questions about finances are asked. That kind of stuff comes way after even the first kiss, because finances are a pretty private, intimate subject. Even more intimate than a kiss…
Which is why it seems so invasive when an agent you’ve just met asks you if you’re pre-approved. It feels like they’re asking you some pretty private, intimate stuff that’s none of their business.
But asking for a pre-approval isn’t like going in for a kiss. It isn’t a marriage proposal. And it isn’t probing on the part of the agent.
It is a necessary question, and an important piece of information for the agent to know. And for you!
Agents aren’t asking you if you’re pre-approved because they’re looking to size up how much you can spend. (At least not most agents…)
They want and need to know that you are serious, and qualified to buy a house.
And they certainly have their reasons for wanting to know…
Even if you have just started browsing for a home just a little bit, and haven’t gotten pre-approved (yet)…at least expect the question. Don’t be offended when you’re asked if you are.
In fact, pay closer attention to the agents who do ask if you’re pre-approved! The ones who ask make it easy for you to find a great agent to work with.
Because if they’re asking that question, it’s a good sign that they are thorough and thoughtful about how they do their business. That’s the type of agent you want to have on your side when you’re buying a house — one who’s careful from the get-go. One who pays attention to the details. One who isn’t going to waste your time any more than their own. Or allow your heart to be broken when you fall in love with a house you can’t do anything about.
And if you want to get some really good attention and service from the best agents you come across, don’t even let them have to ask if you are pre-approved…
Get pre-approved before you even start looking. And let the agent know you’re pre-approved before they even ask. You’ll set yourself apart from almost every buyer the agent has ever met.
Picture having your house for sale, and you feel like it isn’t being shown enough. Or maybe it isn’t really being shown at all.
You expected lots of buyers coming through. Ideally, you even expected an offer (or multiple offers!) to come in pretty quickly.
But instead, not that many people seem to even know your house is for sale. Otherwise, they’d come out and see it. If people would come and see it, the house would practically sell itself, because it’s so nice.
You’re discouraged, frustrated, and angry…
Isn’t your agent supposed to be showing the house to their own buyers? That doesn’t seem to be happening.
Aren’t the other agents in your agent’s office supposed to be showing the house to their buyers?
Not one agent from his office has shown it yet.
Isn’t your agent supposed to be spreading the word to other real estate agents at other companies, and getting them to show the house to their buyers? Again…not happening. At least not as much as you anticipated.
And, isn’t your agent supposed to market your home, so that buyers that neither he, she, or any other agent even knows about, will come out and see your house?
While it’s natural to be frustrated, it won’t do you much good. It will do you less good to be angry, or disappointed with your real estate agent.
You’ve probably expressed your frustration, and all your agent seems to be doing is making excuses. Or pushing you to do something you don’t want to do…like lower your price. Your frustration, and pushing to see more showing activity, may very well be forcing your agent to react that way, when in fact all you need is some perspective.
What may help you most in this situation is some third-party, objective thoughts. So, here goes.
First, here are some basic things many homeowners do not know.
OK, with that under your belt, let’s get into a few more thoughts.
Buyers at all stages of the process (just beginning, all the way to needing to make a decision immediately) see a house that goes for sale immediately, in real time, as it pops up on the market. Pictures and all.
They can even see maps of the location, aerial views, street views, videos, etc. They can literally see inside the property, with all of the pictures made available nowadays!
There’s virtually no need to go out and physically see a property…unless it’s of actual interest to them. Before, they had to go out just to rule out houses. So, almost every house on the market would get more showings back in the day. Every buyer, at every stage of looking, would come out just to get a peek. Now they do it remotely.
This cuts down on how many buyers come out to see your home.
And only the most interested, most serious, ready, willing, and able buyers are coming out to see your home.
This is a good thing…it’s efficient.
It’s natural for an owner to want more showings. But, be careful what you wish for.
Just creating traffic through your house isn’t entirely beneficial. You should only want serious, ready, willing and able buyers coming through. And remember, there aren’t endless amounts of them in the market.
What’s the use of harassing your agent to create traffic and showings if the buyers have no ability or intention of actually buying the house? You are tasking your agent with creating a bit of a dog and pony show for you.
Instead, sit down or hop on the phone with your agent and get down to what the real root of the problem is. The most sensible thing to do is for you and your agent to analyze what the cause is, and hopefully generate more showings.
Go over things like the following:
More often than not, the reason a house isn’t getting shown is due to either the market being a bit slow, or the price being too high. It’s that simple.
Pricing appropriately within the market should get your house shown and sold quickly to the ready, willing, and able buyers in the market…as long as there is at least a buyer who is ready, willing and able in the market.
So, just take a moment to truly understand that creating more showings won’t solve the problem of getting your home sold. You can have showings every hour of every day, but there are only so many true buyers in the market, and they are aware of every house on the market the minute it comes on.
If nobody is coming, and / or nobody is buying it…it’s either price, or a lack of buyers altogether.
Have you ever gone to an open house? Or called a real estate agent about a listing you see? Maybe e-mail an agent about a property he/she has listed?
You just want to check out a house. Maybe you’re just curious. Or, maybe you’re even pretty serious about buying a house. Doesn’t matter. All you’re doing is wondering about a house. That’s it. That’s what you want to talk to the agent about…the house you came to see, or called about.
And it seems like one of the first questions an agent asks you is, “Do you have a house to sell?“
It’s a seemingly odd question, right? It doesn’t make sense for them to ask that question…at least not at that moment.
It seems a bit “cart-before-the-horse”, doesn’t it?
It might even come across as kind of pushy and forward, and beside the point.
Whether you have a house to sell or not seems irrelevant at that point. You don’t even know if you like the house, or will buy the house you are looking at. And you aren’t even thinking about selling your house, until and unless you find the house you want and actually have an offer accepted.
You probably figure it’s because they’re hoping you do have a house to sell, so they can list the home you own, sell you this one you are asking about, and get two sales off of you.
Or that they want you to list your home, and get it under contract, so that you have to move…(again, so they can get two sales off of you).
Which makes you feel like they’re just looking to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, off of you. And, all of your fears and perceptions about real estate agents seem justified…
It might seem kind of early on for the agent to ask you this. But it’s not.
In fact, this question should be asked, answered, and addressed, before you even look at a house to buy.
Agents need to know this.
You need to know this.
And it has nothing to do with an agent wanting to make more money, or any money at all, off of you.
Because, if you own a home, the chances are…you need to sell your house before you can buy another one.
That doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. But most people can’t buy another home, until and unless the house they currently own is sold…
…which doesn’t sound all that appealing to most people. It begs so many questions. Here’s a few of them…
Those are just a few of the most common, and valid concerns.
Almost everyone an agent meets wants to be able to buy a house, without having to sell the house they already own first.
So, agents are always asked if there are alternatives.
Basically, there’s one that solves this problem every single time.
Do you have enough cash to just buy a house outright!? If so, you are in luck!
Go ahead and look for a house, and buy one. Move out of your house and into the new one. Then sell the old one at your leisure. You have options most people do not.
There are some other options, of course. But they aren’t definitely options for everyone.
While you might be able to find an alternate route, other than selling your house first, it’s unlikely. And in many cases, it makes you a less than desirable buyer…which limits your options, and ability to negotiate a good deal.
So many people lose out on the house of their dreams, because they search and find it before they are in position to do anything about it. It’s a recipe for wasted time, aggravation, disappointment, and heartache.
First, you should assess what your options are as early on as possible.
Speak to a real estate agent and a mortgage lender.
If you discover that you have options beyond having to sell your place first, awesome!
But if not, don’t feel like you are the only person on earth to ever be put in this position. You have a lot of company.
That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, of course.
What will make it easier for you, and set you apart from everyone else in the same position, is understanding how critical it is to sell your home first. And, having a solid plan and approach to time the sale of your home, and the purchase of the next. (Which a great real estate agent can help you come up with.)
You want to hire the best agent when you sell your house.
You see real estate agent “John Listalots” all over town. His signs are everywhere. So, you figure he must be a great agent.
It seems like he sells almost everything in town, and you figure that he probably “has all the buyers”.
From an outsider’s point of view, this makes sense…
What better way to gauge and choose the best agent to list and sell your home?
You have the evidence in front of your eyes. So many other people have chosen him to sell their home, how could it not be true?
Before we get into the three reasons why you shouldn’t just hire the agent with all the signs around town, there’s something you should know.
Very few real estate agents do tons of business. In any given area, there’s always an agent or two who seem to do all of the business.
But that doesn’t mean that the few agents who do most of the business, are the best agents.
Nor does it mean that the agents you don’t see doing much business are not the best agents.
There’s a difference between “top” agents, and “best” agents.
The “top” agents aren’t necessarily the “best” agents, who will do the best job for you, and get you the most money for your home. (But that isn’t to say they can’t, don’t, or won’t either.)
It’s just to say that you can’t judge an agent by the number of for sale signs they have up in town.
Don’t hire a real estate agent just because they have tons of for sale signs around town.
And, don’t not hire an agent who doesn’t have a lot of for sale signs around town.
1. Appearances can be misleading.
Just because an agent has tons of for sale signs up around town all of the time doesn’t mean that the agent is selling them all. He might only sell half of the houses he lists.
And, the ones he does sell, he might not necessarily sell for the highest possible price.
Maybe he does. But maybe not. Just don’t base your decision off of appearances.
You might be better off hiring an agent who doesn’t sell lots of houses per year, but gets them all sold, and for the highest price possible.
2. Time and attention.
An agent who has lots of listings on the market could very well not have a whole lot of time and attention to devote specifically to you and your house.
Again, maybe he or she does manage to pay close and careful attention to every single one of their clients. But maybe not. In fact, there is a good chance an agent doing so much business cannot pay you lots of attention.
You might be better off hiring someone who has less listings, and can devote a lot of time and attention to you and the sale of your home.
3. They are too good at selling.
An agent who is good at finding and getting so much business is likely a very good salesperson.
But what are they good at selling? Maybe they do sell a lot of the houses they list, and quickly…
Does that mean that agent did the best job and sold it for top dollar, or is it that the agent is good at selling their own client on agreeing to less than the best price and terms? Could they get more for their client? Is the agent pushing his or her own clients to do things, just to make a quicker sale, or a sale at all?
Almost impossible to prove. And not necessarily the case with a top producer. It’s just food for thought.
And it’s food worth chewing on…
Because so many great real estate agents, who take a tremendous amount of care in getting their clients the absolute best results, get overlooked simply because they aren’t the agent with the most for sale signs up around town.
Don’t overlook the best agent in your area, by just hiring the top agent in your area who has the most signs.
Dig a little. Ask around for that local agent who happens to be the best kept secret. And when you find one, don’t doubt your choice just because they aren’t the top producer. Trust him or her, and let your agent do the best job possible.
A Simplified Guide to Your Home Inspection – Part II
If you have recently gone under contract to buy a home, you may be planning for your physical inspection. A lot of information will be thrown at you in a very short period of time, and a large amount of it is confusing. Hopefully, this will simplify your process. Part I of this article covered roofs, foundation, plumbing and electrical systems. Here, we will cover windows, landscaping, and termites.
Your inspector may recommend new windows. If you are happy with your old windows, they function well, and the casings are in good shape, that is great. But installing new windows is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. New windows are not inexpensive, though. Your window installer may need to repair the window casing (see the termite section, below). If you would like to maintain a vintage look, know that custom windows are really expensive. Also, you will likely have to paint inside or outside once installed. There is one more issue with windows – if the exterior is not sealed properly, they can leak during rains. This is more common than you think, even with condominiums. However, new windows can save you energy dollars and really freshen the look of your home.
Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may have visions of all new landscape including hardscape (created mounds, decorative or retaining walls, etc.). Nothing makes a house look more like eye-candy than refreshed landscape. Or, you may want a simple grassy yard, which might require sprinklers. Be warned – all of this is can be really pricey. Hopefully, you and your gang will want to plant, weed and replant yourselves, which is very time-consuming but can be a lot of fun. And once it stops being fun, you can always hire a gardener.
The other landscape item that your inspector may point out are your home’s trees and their roots. You will need to trim branches regularly to keep them off your roof. The big thing, however, are tree roots as they can lift or crack a foundation and invade sewer lines. If this occurs with a big tree that you wish to keep, you may want to hire a tree surgeon to cut the right roots and leave the other roots alone.
Finally, your inspector will check your outside drains and sump pumps, if you have them. These need to function perfectly so you do not have standing water close to (or in!) your house after heavy rains.
Depending on where you live, you may have a separate termite and wood-destroying organism inspection. Just about every house has termites. Termites are often even present in brand new lumber for brand new houses! In addition to eradicating the little pests, you may need some wood replaced. This is common with window sills and casings, wood overhangs and wood posts. The termites will come back, as well. It is a good idea to have your home inspected every two years or so, top to bottom, and eradication done then.
Hopefully, this has taken some of the mystery out of your inspection. Remember that everything can be repaired or replaced – at a price, of course.
If you are under contract to purchase a home, congratulations! Of course, you are excited and a little nervous, too. Your physical inspection can be especially nerve-wracking. In a short amount of time, you will receive more information than you can process, and it will all seem very serious. And confusing. And potentially expensive. In order to calm your nerves, here is a breakdown of the inspection’s most important home components and priorities. (Homes and condos are constructed differently across the U.S.; this will deal with structures that are mostly wood and not brick, and homes that are not new.)
Your home’s most important elements are its roof, foundation, plumbing, and electrical system.
First, here’s the story on your roof. Your inspector may say that the roof “is at the end of its useful life.” It is not unusual for a roof to need some repairs and maintenance, but it is unusual to need a whole new roof. With continuing maintenance and proper repairs, your dying roof can last several more years. Repairs are pretty easy and most roofers are cost-competitive. Condo purchasers will want to check with the condo board to see what repairs have been done or are anticipated.
Your foundation will either be raised above the ground on piers and posts, or it will be a slab. If you have a basement, it is raised; if you have a newer home, it is likely on a slab. If your raised foundation has some cracks, those can be easily repaired with special epoxy products. If it is completely cracked, and off its posts, run away.
Electrical problems that your inspector finds can be difficult to understand. Amps, breakers, sub panels, drops – what does that all mean? Older homes may not have enough power to run today’s modern appliances, toys, and systems. Wiring may be older, too. The good news here is that electrical work, even replacing wires and panels, is very routine for an electrician. It does not take very long to complete and is usually cheaper than you think it would be.
Your plumbing has many components and some are more serious/expensive to fix than others. Leaky faucet? No big deal to repair. Septic tank pumping? Routine. Roots in your sewer? Common. Unfortunately, many other problems can be progressively more serious and expensive to fix, especially if walls need to be opened. You will want to get estimates from at least two plumbers – hopefully only a portion of your plumbing needs repair. It is usually not necessary to re-pipe a whole house.
Hopefully, your inspection will make a little more sense to you now. The next post on this topic will go over other home components like heating and air-conditioning, fireplaces, windows, and outside spaces.
Your kitchen is often the heart and soul of your home. It’s where many homeowners spend a significant amount of their time – preparing meals for friends and family, trying out new recipes or just gathering their loved ones for a glass of wine and a conversation. Doesn’t it make sense to keep the kitchen as up to date as possible?
Here are some tips to make your kitchen the very best it can be:
The last thing you want in any room is clutter. Having too much stuff – especially stuff that you don’t use – can make your kitchen feel overwhelming, not to mention add frustration to the cooking process when you have to spend 15 minutes digging through a mountain of assorted pots, pans, and cutlery to find your pasta strainer.
Take a day and go through all the cabinets, drawers and closet space in your kitchen. The goal is to get rid of anything that you don’t use on a regular basis; tools that you use weekly should stay readily accessible in the kitchen, tools that you use once in awhile should go into storage and tools that you haven’t used since the first “Harry Potter” hit theaters should get boxed up and donated.
One you’ve eliminated the extra clutter in your kitchen, set up an organizational system that makes sense for you. Keep the pots, pans and tools that you use more often towards the front of your shelves so you can easily grab them when you need them. Have separate spaces for different types of kitchen tools (like one drawer for serving utensils, one drawer for everyday eating utensils, and one drawer for special occasion cutlery) so you know exactly where to find things when you need them.
Spending time decluttering and organizing your kitchen might take some dedication at first, but the amount of time it will save you in the long run will make up for it a thousand times over.
If you’re a person who really enjoys being in the kitchen, investing in new gadgets can not only make the cooking process more enjoyable for you (and up the quality of your dishes), but it can also save you time and energy while you’re preparing meals, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the people you’re cooking for.
Functional tools, like a garlic press or a vegetable spiralizer, will save you tons of time on prep. If you’re a baker, investing in a stand mixer can make your doughs and batters come together better and give you a much smoother end result. If you don’t have a ton of time to cook during the week, a Crock-Pot will allow you to throw a few ingredients in, leave it all day and then come home from work to a hot, home-cooked meal.
When you’re investing in kitchen gadgets, it’s important to spend some time really thinking about what you need and what you’ll actually use. A high-tech blender is certainly impressive, but if you’re not the kind of person who’s making smoothies on a daily basis, it’s just going to take up space on your counter and create more clutter.
Identify your needs, then invest in gadgets that are going to fill those needs and make your life in the kitchen easier and more enjoyable.
If your kitchen has had the same look for years, a few simple decorating updates can make it feel like a whole new space, which can a) make you want to be in the kitchen more and b) inspire a new energy that you bring to your cooking.
When it comes to redecorating, you don’t have to do anything drastic like invest in new granite countertops or replace all of your cabinetry. Small changes like a fresh coat of paint, new bar stools for your island or new decorative accents can completely change the look and feel of your kitchen.
If you’re looking to make some changes to your kitchen, these tips will help you maximize your space and get your kitchen experience on point. So get in there, make some changes and start cooking!
Real estate agents hear this all the time…
“I wish I had called you before. But I just didn’t want to bother you. I know you’re busy…”
…after it is too late.
There are times when you might feel like you shouldn’t “bother” the real estate agent you know. (Could be your friend, a neighbor, your brother-in-law, cousin, your sister…)
Maybe you’re truly trying to be considerate.
But, maybe it’s because you’re not even aware that you should.
Or, you just don’t want to feel obligated or pushed into doing something. (Despite what many people think, most agents are not pushy. Most are the exact opposite.)
So, let’s go over a few times that you should “bother” your real estate agent. Because it really isn’t a bother.
In fact, we’ll get into why it will bother them if you don’t reach out to them for any of these things.
You see a house online. Or a For Sale sign. Maybe even just stumble across and open house.
You’re not all that serious about buying a house. Maybe you’re only just starting to think about it. Or, maybe you have no desire at all to move, and you’re just curious and want to take a peek.
So, you don’t want to “bother” the agent you know to show you the house.
Instead, you call the listing agent. Or some random agent you don’t even know. Or just walk right into the open house.
Next thing you know, you love the house. You’re making an offer. The offer is accepted. And then you regret it. Or problems come up. Or the process is miserable. Or you don’t feel like the agent you’re dealing with is giving you the best advice.
And that’s when you call the agent you know.
Too late. At that point, the agent you know can’t help. (Or at least shouldn’t…) Because now you are represented by another agent. The agent you know can get in a lot of trouble for even giving you friendly advice.
As innocent as it seems, when you just want to go see a house… you are inadvertently making a bigger decision than you think — you are deciding who will represent your interests, advise you, and help you through the process.
Even if you just go see a house with another agent, and before you even make an offer you decide to have the agent you know write up the offer and represent you… the agent who simply showed you the house could claim you as their client. It’s called “procuring cause”. I won’t get into the details here, but it can become messy.
You’re better off calling the agent you know to show you the house in the first place. You won’t be considered a bother.
What will bother him is to have to bite his tongue and not give you the help you want further into the process.
Maybe you’re just curious about how much your home is worth. Or, maybe you’re actually thinking of selling. It might be because you want to get a feel for your net worth.
Nowadays, you can hop online and check out any number of sites that will give you the value of your home.
So, why “bother” the agent you know about this?
Because most of what you will find online is highly inaccurate to begin with. They are “automated” valuations. They are based upon data and algorithms. They have never even seen the inside of your home. They do not take into account your local market conditions.
And if you base your hopes, dreams, and decisions off of an inaccurate value, that can hurt you quite a bit.
Again, asking the agent you know to do an analysis and give you a true market value… not a bother.
But, it would be bothersome to hear that you’ve based important life decisions off of an inaccurate value once it’s too late.
The real estate agent you know probably isn’t an architect. Or a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a painter, etc. So, they probably can’t advise you about the ins and outs of a specific project or costs.
But once you have a sense of the proposed cost of a project, before you just pull the trigger and move forward, you really should “bother” your agent for their input.
Putting on an addition? That will surely increase the value.
A kitchen or bathroom remodel? Yep, your house will be worth more.
But will the value increase more than the amount you spent? Will that matter in your situation? Will the choices you make in decor, layout, or fixtures appeal to a buyer down the road? Does that even matter, given your future plans?
All questions and thoughts your agent can get into with you. Before you spend the money and go through the headaches of a huge project.
On the other hand, if you go forward with a home improvement project and spend, let’s say $60,000, and then call your agent…
You could seriously regret how much you spent, or even doing the project at all.
Your agent doesn’t want to break the news to you that your home is only worth $38,000 more after you spent $60,000. There is no joy in that. There is nothing that can be done at that point.
That’s just three examples. There are certainly more. But you get the point…
So, reach out to your agent before you do anything real estate related… and just trust that it isn’t a “bother”.
Sharing with permission……………..© Copyright 2016 – Lighter Side of Real Estate