Winter Checklist

Preparing Your Home for the Colder Months

Now that the warm summer months are behind us, it’s time to prepare for winter. Regardless of whether you expect to see sub-zero temperatures this season or you live in one of the warmer climates, preparing your home for colder weather can save you money and hassle this winter. So before you dig out your winter sweaters, take a weekend and prepare your home for the cold weather to come.

Save Energy

Fall is a great time to seal drafts in the home which can suck energy out. Check around doors and windows and replace worn weather stripping and caulking. If you use your fireplace for warmth during winter, this is the right time to have the chimney cleaned and checked for safety. Arrange a furnace tune-up complete with replacing the filter and vacuuming the vents to make sure you are warming your home efficiently.

Outdoor Tasks

Before the chill turns to freezing, head to the yard to winterize the exterior of your home. Check gutters for clogged leaves and other debris and examine the roof and siding for any repairs which could create leaks or drafts in the cold. If the gardening season is at its end, drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses. Make sure the sprinkler system is off and reinforce any exposed pipes which could burst with the cold.

Fall is here. Along with the smell of baking and falling leaves, you can ensure your home is ready for winter by taking a few steps now to prepare. Save energy and the hassle of an unexpected repair by getting some routine maintenance done before the cold months come.

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Top 5 Ways to Make Your Offer Stand Out

If you’ve been looking for a new home, finding the right one is exciting. Now that it’s time to write the offer, however, you might be wondering what you can do to make sure the seller is impressed with your offer versus someone else’s offer. Of course the easiest way is to offer cash significantly over asking price, but fortunately, in the real world, there are still great ways to ensure the seller takes your offer seriously and improve your chance of acceptance. Here are the top 5 ways to make your offer stand out:

1. Pre-Approval Letter – A pre-approval means your lender has done their due diligence and has all the documentation needed to close the loan.  It means to the seller that you are serious about buying their home. Is this really necessary? YES, your offer will not be considered without it. Why waste time having to get this done after you have already found the home you want, after all, someone else might just beat you to it.

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2. Contingency Removals – Certainly you should not remove any contingencies which could put you at risk, but you can consider removing or shortening contingency periods to provide peace of mind to the sellers.

3. Sell Your Home First – One red flag to a seller is the buyer who needs to sell their own home before closing. Sell before you write the offer whenever possible. I get that this is not always convenient, but it is less risk to the seller to accept an offer that does not have a home sale contingency.

4. Escrow Period – Working with your agent, offer a longer or shorter escrow period based on the seller’s moving needs. Your agent should be able to find out this information for you.

5. Win-Win – Show the seller that you want to create a win-win. Negotiations are part of a home sale, but avoid seeming unreasonable or demanding.

While price is always important to the home seller, there are other valuable concessions or offers which can mean as much. Work with an agent who views the transaction as a win for all sides and learn what’s important to the seller before you write the offer. By accommodating their needs as much as possible, you are more likely to have your offer accepted.IMG_5040

 

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Top Tips for House Hunting Online

Hunting for a new home online a is a great place to start your search but keep in mind that you don’t see everything. Real estate agents are great at highlighting the features of a house listing online but to make the most of your time, keep these three things in mind:

Identify your Housing Needs

Preferences are important when house searching. A house may not have everything you want but it will have most of the things. Be realistic about pricing and keep in mind the must-have items that will definitely be needed because this will help narrow your search.

Stay up to Date

When you start your search, make sure you go to sites with up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service. Realtors post their most current homes for sale through this. MANY sites fail to remove listings that are already off the market, and this can lead to you trying to sort through them and find the recent ones.  I always recommend that my clients reach out to me to make sure the property is actually still on the market.

Pictures can be Deceiving

Photographers capture listings at their best. They use different strategies and tools to boost the appeal of the home like creative editing and expensive camera equipment known for its effects. Wide angle lenses can make a room appear much larger in a picture. You may not see all of the unappealing parts of the home, like an undone bathroom or small closet.

Go See The Listing

Searching online is a great way to learn more about the house you’re looking for. Even if you’re still unsure about moving, house hunting online gives you a way to see what is out there and to see if there is anything of interest to you.

After you have chosen a house that’s appealing to you, schedule a showing with your real estate agent. This is the opportunity to see every part of the house in person and see if it’s a good fit.

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Spring Cleaning Tips

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The annual spring cleaning. The weather is warming up and it’s a sign to freshen up your home for the upcoming seasons.

Not sure where to start? Read on to find tips to make your spring cleaning easy and effective.

Clean Room-By-Room

This is a great approach to make sure you’re not forgetting to clean other parts of the house. Create a checklist to the areas in each room that need an extra deep clean since they’ve been neglected during the winter. The areas that have been cleaned recently can be skipped.

Clear the Clutter

Get rid of the things that are not needed and get organized. Follow a process and create piles for the things that are going to trash, going to be given away, or stored.

Now is also a great time to have a garage sale or donate the items that are not needed.

Seasonal Chores

Patios, grills, and windows that have been ignored during the winter, need special attention now.

Remove the excess grease from the grill and scrape off anything that has been leftover. Clean sliding doors and make sure to wipe down both sides of the window. Spray down patio furniture and use a handheld vacuum for any chair cushions.

Ask for Some Help

The more people that help, the faster it gets done.

Keep Cleaning Supplies Minimal

Stores offer so many cleaning supplies but there is no need to get all of it. Keeping it minimal will help you feel less overwhelmed and you don’t have to clean up so much afterward. Stick to a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths.

Establish Cleaning Habits

On-going cleaning habits can make the next spring cleaning easier. Clean up routines practiced every few days and quick chores can keep your home tidy for the most part.

Follow these tips to make it an easy spring cleaning every year!

Internet Can't Replace Your Agent

The Internet Can’t Replace Your Agent

We live in the information age; the Internet offers advice on every topic and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information – it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.
The truth is your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key or code. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying or selling process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transaction, therefore you don’t have to handle it alone.
Your real estate agent is a local professional. Your agent is someone who will work hard on your behalf and with others involved in the transaction to see it through to a successful conclusion. They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as lenders, title reps, escrow officers, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors, and handymen, among others.
Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying or selling process. They negotiate for you – armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs, and terms. If you are a buyer, they will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the condition and neighborhood.  Whether buying or selling they will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies among other issues.

Negotiation ImagePhoto credit: www.imindq.com

Yes, the Internet offers lots of great information, but the most important step you can take when buying or selling a home is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.
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Tips for Buying and Selling at the Same Time

Either buying or selling a home can feel stressful at times, it can be even more overwhelming if one is trying to do both at the same time. The good news is that this happens all the time and by following a few simple tips, both buying and selling can be a seamless process.

Tips for Buying and Selling at the Same Time

The good news is that you’re planning to move anyway. Before you list your home for sale, why not start packing now? Take personal items and excess furnishings and pack them up and move them to storage. Not only will your home look larger and neater, but you are also getting a start on the move.

Photo credits: Pixabay Packing Boxes
StorageNext, make sure your agent understands the timeline and requirements. There are many standard contingencies which can protect you from owning two homes at once or none at all. Not only can the purchase of your new home be contingent on successfully closing on your current one but you can also reverse the process and ensure you find a replacement before the close as well.

Finally, get the entire family involved. Be excited about the change and create a moving plan in which everyone has a task and there is a plan for the move itself. By taking a few initial steps, moving can be fun and easy.

Happy family on the floor with cardboard boxes moving in their new home - isolated
Photo credit: Expatica.com

 

 

 

Top 7 NY Resolutions

Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Home Sellers

With the start of the New Year, thoughts naturally turn to change. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to sell your home, then making the right resolutions can help you sell your home quickly and for the best possible return. Here are the top 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Home Sellers:

1. Move Up Spring Cleaning – The time to do your spring cleaning is now. Declutter, depersonalize and make the home look roomier.  Don’t forget your closets.  Closets that are bursting at the seams with stuff scream to buyers that you do not have enough room for storage.

Closet-before-and-after-1024x782 photo credit: Whiskey Riff

2. Stage Your Home – Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, this is the time to rearrange your furniture to make your rooms look bigger and brighter. A well-staged home spends less time on the market and can even help you walk away with more money.

HomeStaging PhotoPhoto credit: therealestatecoconut.com

3. Think it Through – Before you spend money on renovations and upgrades, think carefully and don’t overspend by guessing. Seek advice as needed.

4. Take Care of Neglected Repairs – This is a great time to hire a handyman or break out the tool belt to take care of deferred maintenance and take care of minor repairs. By taking care of them now, you can save yourself money because once there is a home inspection all repairs might be required to be done by a licensed professional, so if there are things you can take care of yourself, now is the time to do it.

5. Interview Real Estate Agents – Hiring a real estate agent is critical to your success. Take the time to interview a number of agents and choose the right one for YOUR needs.

6. Check out the Competition – Go see homes listed for sale in your area and adjust your timing, staging, and pricing based on the market.

7. Prepare Mentally – Selling a home can be stressful. Be prepared for low offers, picky buyers, drop-by agents and odd terms that may arise. Prepare yourself now so you will take them in stride when you’re on the market.  Your real estate agent should be able to help prepare you for what to expect during the selling process and beyond.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Investment – To Rent or Flip?

There are a wide variety of ways to invest in real estate; one can make money in any of these options, one can also lose their money. To be successful in real estate investing, it’s critical that you identify what skills you have and your tolerance for risk. Then choose a type of investment that works for you and repeat that model.

Investors can make great profits by both flipping properties as well as holding them as rentals. The difference really boils down to a few considerations. First, what kind of income are you seeking? Active or Passive? Actively buying, fixing and flipping properties is quick cash that requires careful timing and effort. Rental properties on the other hand offer passive long-term income which accumulates over time. Additionally the property value increases during this time. The downside is that one must invest time in property maintenance and tenant management.

The second concern is risk. Flipping a property is not traditional investing where one buys and holds an investment. Flipping is really speculation. When buying a flipper, one must carefully gauge the cost of refurbishment, remodeling and the cost of the holding time into the price valuation, then carefully market the home and realize the profit. Any number of variances can go wrong which could cause the value to drop and profits to reduce or even disappear, such as a delay in remodeling or a slow real estate market.

Both types of investments can bring nice profits. Determining what’s best for you and your talents is important in choosing the best option for your financial goals.

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Fireplace Design Trends

One of my favorite things to do in the winter when I get home from work is to put on my pajamas, turn on the fireplace and get cozy – even if I am still working on my laptop while sitting on the couch.  I know that the long evenings of the winter months invites families to stay home and enjoy the warmth of their own home. Naturally, attention turns to the fireplace as both providing extra heat and as the focal point of the room. New technology and environmentally friendly design has brought contemporary updates that are sleek, fashionable and playful.

  • Finishing – Fireplace finishes have changed. New products such as the Cool Wall Series open a wide variety of design options by allowing a cool surface as a backdrop for finishes.

  • Wood – Wood burning fireplaces are back in style. Decorative spaces for wood storage are adding architectural interest.

  •  Larger Openings – One of the leading trends in fireplace design is enlarging the viewing window of the fireplace. A simple retrofit of an existing fireplace can make a huge difference in the look of any room.

  •  Corner Fireplaces – This popular feature of the 1990s is back with modern updates. Two or three sided fireplaces with sleek styling and elegant accents, such as wood or metal, are providing a centerpiece for rooms.

  •  Fireplace Walls – Linear fireplaces that stretch the length of the wall is one trend showing up in model homes across the country. Monotone colors and clean lines finish this modern trend.

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Ways to Winterize Your Home

Even though Mother Nature is still a little all over the place in the way of weather, now is the perfect time for you to take steps to protect your greatest investment.  By taking the necessary steps, you can be rest assured that your home will survive the cold winter months. There are things to be done both inside and outside of the home. However let’s separate the two types. First here are the outside tips:

  • Make sure you unhook any water hoses and shut off water to hose bibs.

  • Fill in any cracks in your foundation to conserve energy.

  • Have chimney inspected & cleaned, if needed, before using it.

  • Clean gutters.

  • Inspect any tree branches over roof or power-lines and trim as needed so snow and ice doesn’t cause it to come down on your home.

Now let’s go over tips for the inside of your home:

  • Cover any exposed metal pipes from subzero temps by placing foam insulation around them.

  • Use foam insulators behind light switches & electrical outlets

  • Seal gaps around doors and windows to keep cold air out. You many want to use a door sweep as well.

  • Use an insulation blanket on your hot water heater to help prevent energy waste.

  • Make sure your ceiling fans are going counter-clockwise in order to push heat back down.

  • Consider adding a smart thermostat to set temperatures to be warmer when home and cooler when you are not, which allows you to save on heating cost and you can set it and forget it.

  • Change furnace filters frequently in order to not impede air flow.

  • Consider having an energy audit done on your home by a professional to find things that you may not have thought of to help reduce your energy use.

  • If you haven’t done so recently, please change the batteries in your smoke detectors.  This is extra important with all the extra lights that might be on in your home this season.

These tips shouldn’t take too long and you might not need to do them all in your house. However, your home is your biggest investment and it can be very expensive if we don’t protect it, so be sure to find time to take the necessary steps to prevent damage and make some tweaks to save money on your energy cost.