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6 Ways Curb Appeal Can Make the Sale

curb-appeal

We’ve all heard the term “curb appeal” – it’s been shown that homes with good curb appeal could add 20% to the value of your home. But how do you actually achieve that all important aesthetic that makes a potential buyer excited to schedule a viewing of your home?

Landscape Strategically. You don’t need to sod the entire yard and have flowers blooming everywhere. But if your yard is sparse, spread some seed. Plant some shrubs in the flowerbeds and lay down fresh mulch.

Scrub the House. Pressure wash your siding, brick, and driveway. Make sure the windows are clean and sparkling. Make sure there are no cobwebs or dust piles in sight.

Touch Up Any Paint. If there are still spots that look dingy after pressure washing, a quick touch up paint may do rather than repainting completely. However, you can freshen the look of the house easily by painting the doors or shutters a new modern shade.

Maintain the Mailbox. With daily use, the mailbox may need some work. Consider repainting or if it’s too far gone, replace it entirely.

Trim All the Greenery. Your yard, trees, and bushes should all be well kept when your house is on the market. If you have trouble keeping the yard freshly trimmed with a busy schedule, consider hiring a mowing service temporarily.

Check Your Lights. Make sure your light fixtures are clean and free of any insects that like to gather there. And make sure they all have a working bulb to light up the house for any nighttime lookers.

Taking the time to spruce up the outside of your home before putting it on the market will save you time and earn you money in the long run.

Contact me today for advice on getting your home ready to go on the market!

Your Guide to Closing Costs

your-guide-to-closing-costs

For a first time home buyer, there are often some surprises that come with closing. Namely, the closing costs you are responsible for.

Early in your loan origination process, your lender should provide you with a Good Faith Estimate. While it’s impossible for your lender to know exactly what you will need to bring to closing, this estimate should give you a good idea.

Here are some fees you’ll be expected to pay at closing:

  1. Origination Fee: This is the fee the lender charges for making your loan.
  2. Discount Points: You can sometimes pay this fee to lower your interest rate. While you’ll pay a little more up front, it can save you money over the life of the loan.
  3. Private Mortgage Insurance: If you don’t pay a 20% down-payment, you’ll have to buy this insurance to protect the bank (not you) in case of foreclosure.
  4. Initial Interest: This is the prorated interest you pay from the date you close the loan until the end of the month. Closing at the end of the month will lower this fee.
  5. Lender’s Title Insurance: This insurance protects your lender from any claims made against the house.
  6. Appraisal: The bank doesn’t want to loan you more money than the house is worth, so they order an appraisal to verify the value.
  7. Buyer’s Title Insurance: This protects you from things like past contractors making a claim against the house because they didn’t get paid.
  8. Survey: Goes to a surveyor for drawing the property lines.

When it comes time to close, you should receive a HUD or Settlement Statement from your lender with the actual costs listed a day or two before closing. Take the time to look over it and ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

8 Home Inspection Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

8-home-inspection-tips-you-dont-want-to-miss

You’re pre-approved and now ready to start looking for your new home.   Of course, informed buyers always budget the cost of  a full mechanical and termite home inspection once under contract. However, there are some items you should keep in mind when viewing homes, that may help spot potential issues before an offer is on the table.   Below are some things to be mindful of while you’re viewing a home:

Foundation: Are there any cracks around the base of the wall or near the ceiling? Do the doors open, shut, and latch properly? Also, while walking the outside perimeter of the home, look for any cracks as well.  While, cracks aren’t always something to be concerned about, they can sometimes indicate a possible foundation issue.

Roof: What is the condition of the roof? Do you know when it was last replaced? Take note if you see any shingles loose or missing.

Attic: Take a quick peek in the attic to see if you can see any evidence of leaks. You can also get an idea of how well the home is insulated from this view.

Ceiling Damage: Do you see any evidence of water damage on the ceiling?

Plumbing: Turn on faucets and flush toilets to see that things are in working order. Extremely low pressure or a slow drain could be a sign of needed maintenance.

Heating and Air Conditioning: How old are both the indoor and outdoor units? If it’s a hot or cool day, pay attention to how much the unit seems to be running to keep the home’s temperature steady.

Appliances: Do they come with the home? If so, do they seem to be updated or in working order?

Outside: Are there any areas that seem particularly moist? Is the house higher than the yard?

Again, checking for these common issues yourself is not a replacement for a professional home inspection. But paying attention to these areas can help you have a better idea of how much work may need to be done to the home, or any questions you may want to specifically address with the inspector.

If you fall in love with a home, don’t let these items alone deter you from making an offer. Once a professional inspection is complete, you’ll have more information as to the extent of the potential problem and can further negotiate with the sellers of the home if necessary.

Prepare Your Finances for Becoming a Home Owner

prepare-your-finances-for-becoming-a-home-owner

prepare-your-finances-for-becoming-a-home-owner

The time has come. You’ve decided you’re ready to settle down in a specific area, and to make that commitment official, you want to buy a house!

Before you start spending all your free time house hunting and dreaming of being a home owner, take a moment to get your finances in order.

Find out your credit score. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each credit bureau provide you with a copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Read over your reports and make sure everything is accurate. Unfortunately, errors on reports are common. If something is being reported incorrectly, you want to deal with it before it causes you to lose out on that amazing house.

Decide your payment range. There are many loan calculators online that can help you determine what a payment would be, but take heed when using them. Many don’t take into account the property tax or homeowners insurance that will be a part of your monthly mortgage payment. Make sure you’re taking the big picture into account.

Get pre-approved. Not only will the pre-approval letter will give you greater negotiating power when you reach the point of making an offer on a house, your pre-approval letter will help you determine what you really can afford. A lender will be able to go over different types of loans with you, help you hammer down a monthly payment, keep an eye on your debt-to-income ratio, and ultimately determine your home buying budget.

Start saving. Being a home owner is wonderful – but there are always things that come up. From regular maintenance to major repairs, many homeowners find themselves surprised and unprepared later on. Getting a home inspection will help prevent some of those unknowns from popping up immediately, but you should still be prepared for things to happen as time goes by. Give yourself a head start by bolstering your savings before you even move in!

Once you’re financially ready, contact me to start viewing homes in your budget!

Making the Right Choices in Remodeling Your Home

remodeling

When the time comes to put their home on the market, many sellers question whether they would see a return on investment by doing updates to their house.  Having an updated home will help it sell more quickly, but it’s important to make sure you are choosing the right updates.

Worth the Work

One key feature home buyers are looking for is updated bathrooms.  You don’t need to completely tear everything down to the studs, however. Replacing light fixtures, faucets, updating and retexturing the walls, and replacing flooring that has seen better days will make a major improvement without breaking the bank remodeling everything.

Along the same lines, remodeling portions of your kitchen can help. There’s no need to replace all the cabinets or update every appliance. Repaint, sand and stain the cabinets, replace cabinet pulls and drawer handles, and install a modern faucet. The things you will get the greatest return, you should be able to complete yourself with a little research; there’s likely no need to hire a professional.

The first impression your home makes to a potential buyer comes from its curb appeal. To improve that first look consider replacing the mailbox, add a few pots of flowers, paint the front door, and add a stylish wreath. You don’t need to completely redo the landscaping. A few simple touches will help.

Here in the south, there are a couple of improvements our northern neighbors may not see quite the return on – outdoor living spaces and energy saving projects.  Since it’s possible to spend time outdoors 9+ months of the year here, having a deck or expanding your patio can be a big draw to buyers.  Adding insulation to make a home more energy efficient is another inexpensive idea for those living in extremely warm or frigid climates.

Skip It

While minor updates will generally give you a return on your investment, major remodeling rarely does – especially in the short term.  If you’re planning to be in your home for many years to come, go ahead and rip out all the cabinets in your kitchen and start from scratch. Or tear the bathroom down to the studs and create the oasis of your dreams. You could even add on that extra room you feel would make the home perfect.

Just remember, those major projects are done to make living in the home more enjoyable for you, not to put money back into your pocket! If you’re planning to sell soon, be smart about the work you put in.

Need advice on what projects to tackle and which to skip? Contact me to help prepare your home to hit the market.

7 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

7 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

You’ve enjoyed living there for years, but the time has come to put your home on the market.  Many sellers feel overwhelmed as they look around and wonder what changes will help their home sell most efficiently.

It’s not necessary to do a complete remodel to make your house the most attractive house on the market to perspective buyers! By following these simple staging tips, you can bring your house to the top of the pack:

  1. Remove clutter – The fewer items in your home the larger it will feel. Go ahead and rent a storage unit to clear your off-season clothes, seasonal décor, extra toys, the over-stuffed bookshelf, or whatever else may be cluttering your home.
  2. Scale back your furniture – When a room is packed with furniture, it appears smaller. Removing some furniture from each room will make your home feel more spacious.
  3. Make the first impression amazing – Curb appeal sells homes! Add potted flowers for color, freshen the front door with a coat of paint, and buy a new outdoor rug.
  4. Remove heavy drapes – Either adorn your windows with sheer curtains or strip them completely. Buyers are attracted to light and bright homes!
  5. Add mirrors – Do your walls look bare after removing your personal décor? Adding mirrors helps to lighten your home while also providing a more spacious feel.
  6. Use the rule of three – For decorative items, odd numbers are preferred. Group three items of varying colors, heights, or textures together on mantles or tabletops.
  7. Create function in awkward spaces – Place a desk in that small room with an angled ceiling or a chair and lamp in a tiny nook. Giving purpose to every space can make a quirky floorplan inviting.

Still wondering what needs to be done to prepare your house to sell? Contact me today to set up a meeting!

5 Essential Tips For Your New Home

5 Essential Tips For Your New Home

You’ve spent hours house hunting, waited weeks in anticipation, and signed papers at closing. You’re officially a homeowner!  Before you get carried away unpacking and decorating, there are a few things you can do to prevent potential headaches down the road.

Change the Locks

While you probably received multiple sets of keys at your closing, you have no way of knowing how many keys to your new home have been handed out. As soon as possible, change out all the locks on outer doors.  It’s a simple project that you can complete in an afternoon.

Steam Clean the Carpets

Go ahead and schedule a professional or rent a machine to clean them yourself before you move in furniture. Taking the time now will save you the headache of moving the furniture around later. This is especially important if you have allergies or the previous homeowners had animals living inside.

Change the Wall Color

If you’ve decided to freshen any wall colors, painting before you move in the furniture will make the job much quicker, and you’ll be able to enjoy your new home and new paint colors!

Replace Cabinet Liners

If you want to add cabinet paper to your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, now’s the time to do it. At the very least, give them cabinets a good vacuum and wipe down before you start loading them.

Locate Your Circuit Breaker & Main Water Line

Not knowing where they are in the middle of a plumbing leak or electricity outage adds further annoyance to an already stressful situation! It’s a good idea to well label your circuit breakers as well.

While these simple things could be postponed until you’re moved in, taking care of them early is certainly more efficient!

Are your ready to move into your forever home? Contact me today to find out how I can help!

Don’t Skip The Home Inspection

When purchasing a home, recently there’s been a trend to “opt-out” of a home inspection, which essentially means that the buyer is purchasing the house “as-is”.

Don’t Skip The Home Inspection

Yes, it may boost your offer to the top of the pile, but you wouldn’t purchase a used car without getting a mechanic’s opinion, would you? Purchasing a home is one of if not the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime.

Here’s just a few reasons that you need a home inspection when you purchase your new home:

 

  • Cracks, leaks, and foundation issues can hide from the untrained eye
  • Pest problems may not be noticed upon a first glance
  • All major systems have a lifespan-an inspection can let you know the age (and condition) of your A/C, heat, plumbing, and septic systems
  • Often sellers are willing to repair major issues prior to the sale of the home-saving you money

A proper home inspection will allow you to make a more educated decision about your dream home. You may find that the amount of repairs needed far surpass the price you are willing to pay.

Or perhaps the A/C unit should have been replaced two years ago. A home inspection is designed to find the current and potential problems that your new house has and bring them to light, allowing you and your realtor to make the best decision for you and your family.

A licensed realtor should have the name and number of several reputable and reliable home inspectors. Yes, it’s an “added” expense, but it’s a worthwhile expense.

A proper inspection should help identify potentially expensive problems so that you can request repairs or adjust your offer.

To discuss how I can help you find your dream home, please contact me to set up a meeting.

4 Important Things You Need To Know and Do BEFORE You List Your Home

4 Important Things You Need To Know and Do BEFORE You List Your Home

Buying a house is exciting, and an emotional roller coaster, but it’s not nearly as emotional as selling a home-your home. When it’s time to list your home it can be a bit of a struggle.

You’ve lived there, made it your own, and now that it’s time to sell, you have to think of it as ‘just a house’. For some, it can be hard to detach. Below are a few tips for assuring smoother showings and a quicker sale.

4 Important Things You Need To Know and Do BEFORE You List Your Home

  1. Find a Licensed Realtor

There is a lot of paperwork and legalities involved in a home sale. Hiring a professional ensures that you can deal with the smaller things-like packing, finding your new home (which your Listing Agent can also help you with), and making your final move out.

It’s always best to find a Realtor who specializes in your area and active in both the community and the Real Estate world. Look for someone who is, honest, readily available, tech savvy and focused on your needs. Please don’t be afraid to ask questions, a competent Realtor will want to assure you understand the steps of the transaction from start to finish!

  1. Find A Temporary Home For Your Fur Babies

While most of us love our animals, not everyone is an animal person. It’s best when possible to crate your animals during showing and open houses, or even take them to a doggy day care.  This way, the buyer can view the home with no unnecessary distractions.

You may want to consider putting their food and water dishes away. Remember, you want potential buyers to see your home as THEIR home.

  1. Empty Closets…Almost

Storage is a huge selling point, regardless of what type of home you’re looking for. To help they buyer envision all of the wonderful storage space, neatly fold and hang clothing in only half your closet. Box anything that creates an overcrowded look.

  1. De-Personalize

This is always the hardest thing for clients. But, remember you want the potential buyer to walk in and see their furniture, pictures etc. in the home. So, I recommend boxing most of the personal touches- pictures, collections and keepsakes. Less is more when it comes to décor and home sales. A good agent should be willing to help you decide how much is too much.

Want more home selling tips?
Contact me to set up a meeting!

Why You Need A Buyer’s Agent

Why You Need A Buyer's Agent

When you’re looking for a home, it can be overwhelming. Really overwhelming, which is why you need a buyer’s agent.

Why You Need A Buyer's Agent

What Is A Buyer’s Agent?

Put simply, a buyer’s agent is someone who represents the buyer, helping them locate their dream home. A buyer’s agent has your best interests at heart, and it’s their job to protect you.

A quality buyer’s agent will:

  • Negotiate the best possible price
  • Schedule showings on the properties that fit your specific criteria
  • Alert you to open houses, and present options and ideas that you may not have thought of
  • Help connect you with home inspectors, lenders, and home warranty companies that they know and trust
  • Not charge you for their services (buyers agents are paid out of the seller’s proceeds)

Your buyer’s agent should be your advocate in the home buying process. And a good buyer’s agent will make time for you and go out of their way to make you feel cared for.

Doesn’t Working With A Buyer’s Agent Make A Home More Expensive?

The listing agent’s job is to get the best price for their client-the seller. A buyers’s agent is there to negotiate the best price for YOU.

The market knowledge a buyer’s agent possesses will save you time and money, by identifying properties that are listed considerably over market average, structuring an offer that is strong and competitive, negotiating sales price and repairs that may be on the inspection report, that the buyer would like the seller to address before closing.

When you’re purchasing a home, you deserve representation and guidance from a professional. If you are thinking of buying a home in the Houston area, I would love to represent you! Please contact me for more information.

Kay Hyle