Aug. 19, 2019

WHAT TO PACK FOR THE FIRST NIGHT IN YOUR NEW HOME

 

You just finished unloading the final box from the moving truck, and now you’re officially moved in to your new home! You go to take a shower to wash off the day, only to realize you don’t have a shower curtain. After spending a full day moving into a new home, the last thing you are going to want to do is dig through all of your unopened boxes to find an outfit or a charger (or even a shower curtain). The next time you’re moving, create a ‘first night box’ so that your essentials aren’t hidden at the bottom of another box. Here is a list of what you should pack:

1. Toiletries

You may have thought about keeping your tooth brush in an easy-to-find place when packing, but you’ll need more toiletry essentials to get through the first night or two. Be sure to pack toilet paper, towels, a shower curtain + rod, shower items, and a first aid kit. 

2. Clothes

Unless you are an extremely organized packer, finding an outfit for the next few days isn’t going to be easy if you have to dig through multiple boxes.  Pack 2-3 days worth of clothes and pajamas.

3. Electronics

Don't forget your chargers. Make sure you've got your phone, laptop, and any other charger you may need for your devices during the first few days at home. Pack any necessary cords and cables needed if you plan to unbox your television the first night  Be sure to pack a flashlight as well just in case!

4. Air Mattress/Bedding

If your bed hasn't made it to your new room yet, you will want to make sure you have an air mattress in your first night box. Check to ensure the air pump is packed as well! If your furniture is unloaded, you will sleep better if the bedding you love is easily accessible on that first night in your new home.  

5. Eating Utensils & Kitchen Items 

Avoid the mess of dirty dishes your first night home and pack disposable eating utensils.  You may also want to pack wipes to quickly clean up any messes made at mealtime and a garbage bag to be able to dispose of any waste quickly. Cleaning supplies typically aren't the first thing on our minds when moving into a new home, so be sure to pack these items so that you aren't scrambling to the store after a long day when you're ready to clean up after a meal.

Posted in Buyer Tips
Aug. 12, 2019

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOU LIST YOUR HOME

 

After all of the preparation required to list your home, you are probably ready to relax and wait for offers. While most of the hard work is done, it is important to keep in mind things that you may run into during the sale process. As you begin to welcome potential buyers into your home, here are a few things to expect now that your home is listed!

1. You might feel like you live in a museum.

You may have spent a great deal of time cleaning and decluttering, but now you are going to need to maintain that cleanliness. Potential buyers are going to expect a home that was as neat as the listing photos they saw, so it is important to meet their expectations. Now that you have officially listed your home, maintenance is necessary. There may be showings where you don't have time to do a full deep-clean, so choosing to keep your home 'show-ready' will help reduce any stress about the appearance of your home for a showing.

2. There will be some inconveniences. 

Now that you've realized your home needs to be 'show-ready' at all times, you might be starting to think that there could be an inconvenience or two during this part of home-selling. While your real estate agent will be helpful in this process, you may need to switch around plans during the evenings or weekends when you are typically home so that your home can be shown.

3.  Expect to hear critiques and criticism.

This is often the main thing that first-time home sellers struggle with. It is not always easy to hear the issues a potential buyer may have with the home you have created. While some criticism can feel insulting, it is important to remember that it is not personal. Potential buyers are not trying to hurt your feelings, they just want to picture your home as their own. Your agent can be a key part in buffering criticism. They will be able to take suggestions from potential buyers and relay it to you in a way that is helpful and constructive.

4. Home maintenance will be crucial.

While maintaining home cleanliness is important, you will also need to keep up with maintenance tasks. Your lawn will need to be mowed, your heating and cooling systems need to be operating properly, as well as any appliances that will be staying when your home sells. 

5. There can be some additional expenses.

After you've accepted an offer, the closing process will begin. There will be inspections and final walk-throughs, and this can bring about issues that may need resolved before the sale is closed. Depending on the issue, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for repairs so that you don't need to negotiate your sale price. 

If you're ready to sell your home and need someone by your side to guide you as you prepare to list, give us a call today!

Posted in Seller Tips
Aug. 5, 2019

HOW TO MOVE WITH KIDS

 

As if moving isn't already hard enough, adding your children into the mix can present a whole new challenge. Kids are resilient, but major changes like big moves can be difficult to work through if children aren't prepared. Depending on their age, your children may be leaving behind a school, friends, and activities that they've grown to love. Instead of throwing them in the deep end, consider helping them get their moving feet wet with these steps. 

1. Talk to your children about your move as soon as it becomes a possibility.

Once you've decided to move, the first thing you should do is have an open discussion with your children. If you wait until it is time to pack, they may feel like they've had a bombshell dropped on them. If you give them a chance to voice their feelings and work through them, you'll deal with a little less chaos when it is time to move. Consider the best way to tell your children, taking into account how each child best receives information. Be open, honest, and available to answer their questions.

2. Find ways to involve your children in your new neighborhood.

Instead of leaving the kids at home while you are closing on a property or even just touring potential homes, bring them along. Find activities in the area that your children will enjoy, whether it be a park nearby or local libraries, pools, or playgrounds. Helping them feel familiar with their new home will take a weight off of their shoulders and reduce the fear of being the 'new kid' when they move. Once you are moved in, consider hosting a game night or play date for your neighbors with children so that your kids have an opportunity to make friends quickly.

3. Reach out and get local recommendations ahead of time.

This will help both you and your children have a little more peace of mind when it comes to making a big move. Before the move, find local parent groups (sites like Facebook are full of these) and seek out recommendations for daycares and schools that meet the criteria you are looking for. The first thing most people do when trying something new out is to check for reviews, and these groups will allow you to do just that. Create a short list of places you think will fit your lifestyle, and then conduct as much research as you need to make a decision when you arrive in your new home. This will reduce the time your children will spend in limbo when you move.

Moving can be a difficult time, but preparing your children will help make the process as smooth as possible and help to lessen the stress that comes with a big move.

Posted in Seller Tips
July 29, 2019

HOW TO DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD REMODEL OR MOVE

 

After living in a home for several years, it can be easy to discover things you may not be crazy about. While some things can be a quick fix, there may be major changes that make you wonder if it is worth the investment. At this point, you're probably asking yourself if you should remodel or just find a new home. As you have probably realized, this isn't always an easy choice. There are many factors that go into this decision. Here are some things to consider when deciding what will work best for you.

1. Determine which is more cost-friendly

While both options will have costs, one will have more than the other depending on your situation. Some of the costs of selling include agent commissions, moving costs, minor repairs, the costs of a new home, and potential upsizing costs. The costs of remodeling can include permits, architectural plans, materials and labor, and any other additional costs incurred in the process. 

2. Look into the current housing market

Depending on whether your local real estate market is hot, it might make more sense to just sell if houses are selling quickly around you. By talking to a real estate agent, you can find out what to expect in terms of days on market, average sales price, and other important factors when it comes to selling a home.

3. Decide if your roots are deep 

Is your home more than just a home to you? If you and your family are actively involved in the community, remodeling may work best for you. On the flip side, if there are better schooling or job opportunities in a different neighborhood, or you already spend hours a day traveling to those locations, selling may be a better option.

4. Decide if a renovation can solve your problems

Take the time to decide if the problems with your home are fixable. Is it really the house, or do you dislike your neighborhood? Do you have to spend an hour driving one way to work? Do you need a lot more space? If your answer to questions like this make you realize renovations won't solve your problems, consider that it may just be time to put your home on the market. 

5. Consider the ROI on your remodel

Calculating your return on investment will help you determine two things - first, if a remodel will cost you less than selling your home. It will also help you determine if you will be able to make your money back on a remodel if you choose to sell in the future. Look into the Cost v. Value Report for the last year, which can guide you on the most and least cost-effective improvements.

If these considerations make you realize it is time to sell your home, give us a call today!

Posted in Seller Tips
July 26, 2019

LONG-DISTANCE HOUSE HUNTING

 

Regular house-hunting isn't always easy, but adding distance into the mix can present challenges you don't have when looking a few neighborhoods over for a new home. While it may not be a walk in the park to buy a home from far away, it is possible. If you find a great agent and follow these steps, you can take away some of the stress that comes with moving long-distance.

1. Start Your Research

Knowing what is in your neighborhood is something we tend to take for granted. You know where the best sushi place is and exactly what grocery store is closest to your home for those last minute runs. When moving to a new neighborhood, especially in a new state, it is key to decide what is important to you when it comes to proximity. Does your new house need to be near a park for your kids? Do you need to be 5 minutes from the closest Starbucks? You'll also want to look into crime rates and school ratings if you have children. Researching your potential neighborhoods will help you feel better about choosing a new home that may be far away.

2. Use Technology To Your Advantage

Google Maps may not be constantly updated, but checking out an aerial view can give you an idea of what your neighborhood looks like if you don't have the opportunity to travel right away. Getting the lay of the land is just another way to feel comfortable about your new neighborhood.

3. Have a Travel Budget

Even if you have a great agent showing you as many homes as possible, you need to plan for the possibility of making more than one trip to your future home state if you want to see it in person. While you may have adjusted your budget already to purchase a home, consider factoring in travel costs so you aren't stressed about eating out or gas money during your trips - that way you can focus on finding your dream home.

4. Decide Your Non-Negotiables

Choosing a home from out of town already comes with challenges. If you're heading in to check out houses and have a weekend filled to the brink with potential home tours, it will make your life easier if all of those homes meet your requirements. Instead of seeing all homes that 'might' fit, have your agent remove any houses that have a non-negotiable feature - whether that is no backyard or not enough bathrooms. It will make the most of your time and remove some of the stress of seeing homes that aren't for you.

Posted in Buyer Tips
July 22, 2019

WHY CREDIT CHECKS DURING CLOSING ARE IMPORTANT

 

You've found your dream home. After months of searching, you're finally closing on the house that you've wanted for so long. The last thing you want to do is take any action that would interfere with the closing of your home. Since the start of your home search, your agent has probably told you time and time again not to do anything that would impact your credit score, like opening a new line of credit or making a large purchase. While this makes sense during the approval process, you may wonder why it is key to keep your credit in check until after closing. Here is an explanation of the 2 credit checks performed during the home-buying process and why it is important to maintain your credit from start to finish.

Pre-Approval Credit Check

To get a loan to purchase a home, you'll go through a pre-qualification process. You'll let your potential lender know a variety of financial information, from your credit score and employment to your marital status, as well as any number of factors that can impact your qualification. With this self-reported information, you can then be pre-approved. After that, lenders will verify the information you've provided and this is when they will pull your credit history. It is important that what you've reported matches the credit information pulled by the lender - which is why you shouldn't miss any payments or open new cards during this time. Lenders offer approval based on a risk assessment, and you do not want them to think that you are a risk.

Credit Check at Closing

The main concern of the lender is the risk you pose to them. Because it can take time for an offer to be accepted, your lender may pull a second credit check while waiting for your loan to pass underwriting. This is to ensure your credit hasn't changed since the initial credit check. If you took out a loan or created massive credit debt, you could change your debt to income ratio and your lender could decide you are too risky to loan to. This is why it is so very important to keep your credit in check before, during, and after the home-buying process!

Posted in Buyer Tips
July 22, 2019

HOW TO FIX 5 COMMON BATHROOM ISSUES

 

Homeownership has plenty of perks. You can make changes whenever you want, but that also means you are responsible for making any fixes that you want (or need)! Instead of calling the local handyman every time something small goes awry, you can try out these quick fixes for common bathroom issues that arise while saving yourself some money along the way.

1. Shifting Toilet Seat

Is your toilet seat wobbling every time you sit down? Sometimes, there are visible bolts to tighten, but that just doesn't fix the issue. Many are unaware that you can actually purchase a toilet seat tightening kit. Most home improvement stores will carry an inexpensive kit, usually around $10. Rather than investing in a new toilet seat, you can save time and money by picking up a kit the next time you're out.

2. Slippery Shower

There are two main options to remedy a slippery shower. If you have a geriatric family member, a shower chair may be the best option to provide security. These chairs can be as affordable as $20 and can offer peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your loved ones. If chairs aren't for you, a non-slip bath mat will keep you from falling in the shower and cost as much as a few coffees.

3. Clogged Shower Head

Do you normally have great water pressure, but now your shower feels like a slow leak? Your shower head is likely clogged from a build up of minerals in your water. Instead of calling the plumber or heading to the store to buy toxic chemicals, you can use ingredients already in your home to fix your problem. All you need to do is fill a sandwich bag halfway full with white vinegar, submerge the shower head into the vinegar in the bag, and tie the bag to the piping and allow the head to soak overnight. When you remove the bag, you should wipe the head to remove any excess and then your shower should be back to normal pressure.

4. Slow Drain

Before calling a professional, consider trying a Zip-It tool. You can find one at your local hardware store for around $5, but you have to be willing to deal with a little bit of gunk. The tool is placed in the drain and pulls out whatever is clogging it, usually hair and soap. If you can get past that, you'll save yourself the price of a plumber.

5. Leaking Water Valve

Instead of heading to the store for a replacement water supply valve, try tightening the packing nut on the valve. A quick video search online will show you which nut to tighten, and it will only take a few minutes. Now you've saved time and money!


While these are easy fixes to do yourself, selling your home isn't nearly as easy to DIY. Call us today if you are ready to put your home on the market!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
March 23, 2019

ADD A SPRING TOUCH TO YOUR HOME

 

Spring is on the way! Cheering up your home with some spring decor is the perfect way to prepare for warmer days and more sunshine. Here are some options to prepare your home for the next season!

ADD AN HERB GARDEN

While they may not last outdoors with the sporadic weather of spring, bringing potted herbs into your home and letting them soak up sunlight in a kitchen window is the perfect way to add life to your home and have access to fresh herbs while you’re cooking. 

THINK SPRING 

If you are all about DIY-ing, creating simple decorations can add a pop of seasonal color to your home. Take that pair of rain boots you don’t wear anymore and turn them into planters - add bright floral arrangements and use your new decor item as an inviting piece by your front door.

POPS OF COLOR

Neutral and sleek is all the rage right now, but adding a pop of color in your normal decor can add a cheerful touch to your home. Swap out your kitchen napkins or tablecloth with something a little bit more colorful, like soft blues or pinks. Small changes can do enough to make your home feel different without being overwhelming.

FLORALS ARE ALWAYS THE ANSWER

Whether or not you already include florals in your home decor, take the time to swap out or add something new that feels like spring. While fresh flowers are a great choice, consider picking up some faux florals for the majority of your decor and saving the fresh flowers for a centerpiece. Don’t be afraid to add pops of color, specifically yellows and pinks, to create a focal point for the room. 

TOUCH UP TIME

Is there a room in your home that is just feeling drab? Maybe it is dark and uninviting, or maybe it has white walls that have started to fade. While you are spring cleaning, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to a place in your home that needs a boost of light. Spring is all about being fresh and new, so your home should feel that way too!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
March 20, 2019

HOW TO SAVE UP FOR A HOUSE

 

Are you thinking about buying a home and just don’t know where to start? Before you even begin looking at homes, consider how much you may need to save to make the process as smooth as possible for you, especially in the long run. While there are situations where you don’t need a large down payment for a home, having one can save you money down the road. 

Saving for a down payment is slightly different than other large savings, like retirement. With those savings, you can set aside smaller amounts or invest the money. Because you will need your down payment sooner rather than later, those saving methods won’t be beneficial to you. Here are some steps to take to save up for your dream home!

1. Determine How Much You Need

There is a general rule of thumb in real estate, the rule of 28, that says your maximum mortgage payment should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. Sitting down with a mortgage lender will help you find out how much of a mortgage you qualify for based on that income. They will be able to tell you the recommended amount needed for a 20% down payment. Whether or not that is a requirement, a 20% down payment can get you a great price deal and reduce your monthly mortgage rate. 

2. Decide When You Want To Buy

The next step will be deciding when you want to buy. This will give you either a monthly or annual goal of how much money you need to be setting aside to reach that down payment goal.

3. Choose A Savings Plan

It it usually best to avoid stocks or other risky investments when it comes to saving for a home. Consider opening a regular savings account specifically for your down payment, and make sure it is an account you use for deposit-only purposes until you’re ready to make your down payment.

4. Check Your Budget

Saving a few dollars here and there can be easy, but saving thousands of dollars may take a little more practice. First, consider cutting back on your expenses. Check your budget for things you can go without. This may be difficult, but think about what you are saving up for! If you have the chance to earn additional income, devote that extra cash directly to your savings account. These saving strategies will not only help you to buy your new home, but can create life-long habits to help you continue to save money down the road.

5. Consider An Automated Savings Plan

Even after you have adjusted your budget, pulling that money out of your checking account and putting it into a savings isn’t always easy. Once you’ve determined how much of your budget will be going into savings, consider adding a savings plan to your bank account so that the money will automatically be sent to your savings. This can remove the temptation of spending what may look like extra money in your account and ensuring that it goes where it needs to. 

6. Save Your Big Deposits

Have you received a large sum of money lately? Maybe you just got married, or got a bonus at work, or that tax-return was especially big this year. Instead of spending that cash, deposit it directly into your savings account. This can reduce your savings timeframe and might have you ready to buy sooner than you thought.

Saving up for a home isn't always easy, but it is always worth it! When you are ready to buy, give us a call and we will get you that home you've been dreaming of!

Posted in Buyer Tips
March 20, 2019

WHAT YOUR CARPET IS HIDING FROM YOU

 

How many carpeted rooms in your home appear clean at a glance? Even if you think they all look clean, those carpets may not be very sanitary. Spring is here which means if you have snow, it has likely started to melt - exposing dirt and pollen that can now be easily tracked into your house.  Carpets trap dust and odors and can attract mold when they absorb moisture. So often, we forget what our carpet could be hiding because it just doesn't look dirty. You want to make your carpet last as long as possible, and the only way to ensure that is by keeping your carpets cleaned and sanitized. Here are some steps to take to keep that carpet in the best shape possible, and as clean as ever.

1. Vacuum Weekly

Make a habit of vacuuming once a week, even twice a week in high traffic areas. While it is easy to rush through vacuuming, try taking it slowly to ensure your vacuum is pulling up as much dirt and dust as possible.

2. Use Door Mats

Door mats can help reduce the amount of dirt and dust being brought into your home in the first place. Use both indoor and outdoor mats and be sure to clean them when you vacuum each week. 

3. No Shoes, No Problem

It probably isn’t hard to believe that 80% of the dirt in your house is carried inside on people’s shoes. Ensuring that your family members and guests remove their shoes before entering your home will help to greatly reduce the amount of dirt and dust.

4. Treat Spots and Spills ASAP

To avoid permanent damage, make sure you are always cleaning up messes as soon as they happen. It can be easy to quickly wipe up a spill without really cleaning it, but spot treating to remove any residual mess is the best choice. It is much harder to remove a stain once it has set!

5. Vacuum Under Furniture & Rugs

It is easy to forget about the dirt and dust that collects under rugs and furniture. Aim to clean in those hidden spots monthly or bi-monthly.

6. Deep-Clean Your Carpets

If you don’t own a carpet steam cleaner, consider renting one for a deep-clean twice a year. The high-powered water extraction system will clean, disinfect, and sanitize your rugs and carpets to remove anything that regular vacuuming leaves behind. 

Keeping your carpet clean is a great investment for your home. By following these steps, you can prevent the need for carpet replacement for many years to come.

Posted in Homeowner Tips