Whether it’s a cramped bedroom or an office nook, many homes have a small room that’s difficult to decorate.
Do you wish you could add more charm without forgoing square footage? Well, just because your space is limited, it doesn’t mean your style has to be.
Make your tiny area more usable and trendy with these four tips.
1. Create a focal point. Designing without a focal point can make your space look cluttered. Instead, arrange a single, standout feature at the center of the room. Organize a gallery wall with several of your favorite photos or hang one attention-grabbing piece of art.
2. Take decor to the top. If your home lacks high ceilings, use tall floor lamps and curtains to elongate your walls. You can further give the illusion of height by installing vertical shelves closer to the ceiling instead of at eye level.
3. Make it bright. Bring in natural light by hanging sheer window curtains. You can also add a mirror to the wall opposite a window to reflect light.
But if your small space doesn’t have windows, consider these ideas to illuminate it:
Arrange multiple levels of lighting so your gaze moves to various areas of the space, which can make it feel larger.
4. Add decorative storage. When a room is full of stuff, it tends to feel smaller. Use your walls for storage by installing hooks or racks to give your items a rightful place.
If you want more space-saving ideas — or if you’re ready to start looking for a larger home — reach out today.
When you think of the home you’ll retire in, a new house may come to mind. Or maybe you’re contemplating moving to your favorite vacation spot or somewhere closer to friends and family.
With so many choices, how will you know what’s best for your lifestyle?
Here are three questions to consider before making a move for retirement:
1. Will you relocate? Maybe you have a favorite beach town in mind for your retirement, where you can relax year-round. If so, be sure to account for the price of moving and the costs of your new community. If the cost of living is higher, make sure you have enough money saved to live comfortably.
2. Should you downsize or upgrade? The kids have likely moved out, so you could opt for a smaller house or condo. But a more substantial property may offer additional space for visitors and hobbies. Think about what’s best for your family, then consider sitting down with a financial planner to evaluate your assets to be sure you can afford your options.
3. Is the timing right? If you’re not quite ready to retire but thinking about moving, it may be better to buy property while you still have a steady income. On the other hand, you can take your time looking if you start after you’ve left your job. Either way, explore your options to ensure you’re making the most of your investment and your retirement.
Is retirement in your near future? Are you ready to start looking for a new home? Reach out today to discuss your next steps.
When you think of wellness, does your living space come to mind? Today, people are taking wellness beyond diet and exercise and into their homes. So, if you want to improve your quality of life, you might be interested in wellness-focused interior design.
This style of design uses natural elements to boost your mood, increase your productivity and influence your mental well-being.
Here are four ways you can bring this trend into your home:
1. Let in the light. The sun’s light can elevate your mood and promote alertness. Take advantage of daylight by arranging workspaces near windows, using light-filtering curtains or strategically hanging mirrors to reflect more light. Natural light can recenter your sleep cycle and promote vitamin D production — two keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
2. Promote air circulation. Proper air circulation provides a regular temperature, removes impurities and that “stale” feeling, and prevents mold. For better air quality, use ceiling fans, open the windows and install attic vents. The more space there is in a room, the more air can circulate.
3. Add more plants. Being close to nature can improve your overall well-being. Plants add color to your home, purify the air and may even reduce stress. Bring the outside in by adding plants to every room in your home, especially the spaces where you spend the most time.
4. Design a calming space. Create a private sanctuary that’s free of distractions, like clutter and electronic devices. Dedicate time to this space so you can calm your mind, gain a fresh perspective and reflect on your day.
Interested in boosting your home’s wellness factor? Or thinking about looking for another home to call your own? Get in touch today.
You’ve probably been told you should wait for spring or summer to sell your home. That's when there’s a bigger pool of buyers, and your landscaping and foliage are at the top of their game, right?
Well, wait just a minute. There are actually some compelling reasons to go ahead and sell now.
Here’s a look at three ways selling in the off-season can work in your favor:
There’s typically lower inventory in winter. The basic economics of supply and demand now work for you, the seller. When there are a ton of properties for sale, even a great home can look common. But when there are fewer options on the market and a listing is in good condition, it suddenly gains an edge it may not have in the summer.
More Serious Buyers
People who are buying in the off-season are not your typical summertime browsers. These buyers are often more serious and motivated to make a move — and do it quickly. Maybe they had a sudden career or lifestyle change. Whatever it is, they typically need a new home now. If yours is ready and waiting, it can have added appeal.
Who wants to spend all summer packing and planning a move? Some buyers want to move before the school year ends to have summer free for travel and relaxation. When your home sale is already sorted during winter, it’s smooth sailing for summer fun.
Are you ready to sell? Get in touch today for a comprehensive review of your current home.
Selling your family home is hardly ever about building your financial portfolio. For most of us, it’s usually a matter of necessity.
A growing young family or a changing lifestyle usually demands extra space. Maybe your kids are old enough now that they need separate rooms. If you have outgrown your living quarters — for whatever reason — it’s time to explore a move-up forever home.
How can you tell that it’s time to move? Here are four common scenarios:
1. You’ve had a change in family size. Whether someone is moving in or you have a baby on the way, you naturally need more space for more people. If you’re struggling to achieve functionality with your current setup, then you need a home with additional rooms.
2. Your DIY and design projects don't happen — or they cost too much. Maybe you bought your starter home intending to renovate it, but you underestimated how difficult it is to fix up a house. If your fixer-upper has become a money pit or a huge source of stress, it may be time to call it quits and seek greener pastures.
3. You find it difficult to entertain or have guests over. If you have too little space to host or have few boundaries between your party and private space, it’s hard to entertain comfortably. A larger home that allows more freedom and possibilities for hosting will better align with your needs.
4. You spend all your time in other parts of town. Imagine being closer to work and your favorite restaurants. Instead of wasting hours in your car, why not pick a home that’s close to everything you love?
And if everyone else in the neighborhood is selling, it may be a sign that it’s the perfect time for you to do the same.
Are you ready to find your next home? Get in touch today.
With the wealth of information available online, many of today’s consumers are incredibly knowledgeable about the homebuying and selling process. Add in the desire to save — or make — as much money as possible, and it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to pass on hiring an agent.
But before flying solo, consider the benefits of having an empathetic and experienced negotiator on your side.
Local Data and Insider Knowledge
You may have lived in your neighborhood since the kids started school and know exactly how much the neighbor’s house sold for. But do you have all the tools of an expert? An agent’s local data can show you everything that’s selling right now and what buyers in your area are prepared to pay for your house.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make — and the amount of paperwork and legal jargon required proves it. Omitting or miswording even one line can lead to a costly mistake that’s much higher than the price of an agent’s commission.
Haggling over contract contingencies and home pricing can lead to negotiation fatigue and poor judgment calls for emotionally invested buyers and sellers. One key reason to work with a real estate agent is to have an experienced negotiator who’ll put your best interests first.
The complexity of property transactions means contractors, attorneys, lenders and financial advisers are also involved. A well-connected agent can put you in touch with other qualified and trustworthy real estate professionals who are ready to help.
Thinking about listing your home? Or looking for a new place to call home? Reach out today.
You’ve always been told that owning a home is the ultimate American dream.
Imagine renovating your master bath into a mini spa or choosing your favorite appliances for your dream kitchen. Or just getting to repaint whatever room you want. Plus, there’s the potential for financial gain when you own.
But renting has its own advantages: flexibility, a smaller financial commitment and the chance to try before you buy.
So when do you know it’s time to take the plunge on a purchase? Answer these questions to see which side of the rent vs. buy debate you might land on:
Why do you want to buy?
Sure, owning a home might be the great American dream — but is it your dream?
For some, the idea of a home where you can raise a family, be close to schools and build a community is enticing. For others, buying is a great investment. But for many, it’s about freedom: the ability to keep pets, renovate and be independent.
Will you stay in the area?
No one has a crystal ball — but knowing how long you plan to live in an area can help as you consider the pros and cons of buying. Generally, longer stays align with purchasing.
If the thought of travel fills you with more passion than the idea of settling down in your dream property, you may not be ready for your forever home. But there’s always the possibility of turning your house into an investment property.
What can you afford?
While renting usually costs less in the short term than purchasing property, owning a home can build long-term net worth. A rent vs. buy calculator can help you understand the costs of each option.
Don’t have the deposit for your dream home now? That doesn’t mean you can’t buy. We can work together to find affordable homes, and there are plenty of low or no down payment mortgage options.
Have questions about buying or financing your purchase? Let’s discuss your next steps.
Many homeowners will tell you how emotional it was to buy their first home, but you rarely hear about their experience selling it. It’s only natural to grow attached after creating so many wonderful memories, which can make selling a challenging process.
Fortunately, you’re not in it alone. Together, we can simplify the process and make sure you get top dollar when selling your home.
Let’s get started with some simple do’s and don’ts for selling your first home:
What should you do?
What shouldn’t you do?
Have you been thinking about selling your home? Or are you just curious about what it’s worth in today’s market? Reach out today for a comprehensive review.
One of the many joys of homeownership is incorporating your signature style throughout your home. From furniture and rugs to artwork and paint colors, there are so many ways you can make a space all your own.
But there’s one space in the home that’s often left untouched — the ceiling. Though rarely considered, it’s a vital part of your home’s story.
Whatever your design style, there are plenty of ways to dress up your fifth wall. Check out these ceiling styles that designers and architects are raving about:
Go Modern Minimalist
If you like sleek and elegant design schemes, minimalism is for you. A minimalist home has clean lines in a defined color palette. Forego bright color schemes and add elaborate elements sparingly.
Paint, tile or paneling in black or grey add engaging contrast to ceilings without stealing the show.
Add Some Rustic Charm
If you’d prefer a more accessible look, then rustic style is the answer. It’s comfortable, warm and inviting with neutral tones and natural textures like wood and stone.
Wood is the order of the day with a rustic ceiling motif. Rough-hewn panels, bold beams or reclaimed wood will add stunning character to your barnhouse decor.
Keep It Traditional
If you’re looking for a style that’s casual and understated, consider a classic look. It’s a great option whether you enjoy muted tones or simple pops of color.
For traditional ceilings, bright white paint with recessed lighting is a tried-and-true choice. Your cool and classic fifth wall can be flat or vaulted with lavish details like crown molding or coffers.
Bring the Focal Point Down
If a crisp, white ceiling is your preferred style, you can dress up your fifth wall with a custom pendant or light fixture.
Ready to get rid of those old popcorn ceilings? Get in touch if you’d like referrals to interior designers in our area.
Or reach out today if you’re ready for a new space to design.
Are you wondering how to avoid getting into a fast and furious bidding war once you find your dream home? Even if you can afford to pay more, it’s not always the best move.
Money is one thing that turns sellers’ heads, but it's far from the only incentive when you’re competing with other buyers. So why raise the ante with more money?
If you want to offer your seller something they can't refuse, try offering a flexible closing date.
Why is the closing date important?
On closing day, the home’s sales documents are signed and ownership changes hands. In most cases, that’s about 30 to 60 days from when your offer is accepted.
But what if that doesn’t work with the seller’s timeline?
How can a flexible closing help you?
Some sellers need to get out fast. They could be relocating and need to move immediately. Maybe they already bought a new home. By offering a fast closing, you can help them to avoid paying two mortgages.
Other sellers need more time. Maybe they're building their dream home and hit an unexpected construction delay. Your flexibility with a delayed possession date offers them the security of having their new home lined up before they have to move.
How else can we sweeten the deal?
Let’s say the best bid you can make is a bit lower than the listing price. Offering a seller rent-back might encourage them to choose your offer over others that are less accommodating. This lets the seller rent the space from you for a set amount of time until they’re ready to move.
To make a flexible closing date work for you, remember to go on a month-to-month lease or have alternative housing options ready.
When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, keep in mind that understanding what motivates the seller is how we’ll get your offer accepted.
Ready to start your search? Reach out today.
It’s finally happened — after months of searching, you’ve found your dream home. It’s the perfect size for your growing family, the kitchen was just remodeled and there’s a huge deck for entertaining. And best of all, the seller accepted your offer!
As we near your closing date, your lender will want to verify the home’s value with an appraisal. This might sound nerve-wracking, but don’t worry: Appraisals protect you from overpaying.
Let’s dive into appraisals to demystify the process:
When do you need an appraisal?
If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy a new home, the lender will require an appraisal. The appraiser gives an independent estimate of the property based on recent sales data of similar homes.
When your mortgage amount matches the appraised price of the home, you know that you have a good loan-to-value ratio — and aren’t paying more than you should be.
What does an appraiser look for?
An appraiser will physically measure the home’s square footage and visually inspect the entire property. They’ll note things like:
Comparing all of that against similar nearby homes sold within the last 90 days, the appraiser arrives at your home’s value.
What if it’s valued for less than you expected?
Let’s say you agreed to buy the property for $250,000 but the appraisal came in at $225,000. Your lender won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised price.
If you still want to buy the home, we can negotiate a lower price with the seller or challenge the appraisal and pay for a second opinion.
Another option is to walk away. This may not sound ideal, and it will probably be hard to do. But our goal is to get you the right home at the best price.
If an appraisal comes in low, we’ll discuss all the options available to make sure you don’t overpay.
Are you ready to find your dream home? Reach out today to get started.
You saw an online ad for low mortgage rates and decided to apply — just to see if you qualify. Now your phone is buzzing nonstop, and lenders are emailing you about “DTIs” and W-2s.
The onslaught of financing questions can be baffling when you’re tackling them alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Looking for some insight to make financing more straightforward? These four tips will get you started:
1. It’s okay to play the field.
Don’t be afraid to apply for several loans with different lenders to compare the terms and rates. You can — and should — shop around.
Just be sure to do so within a set time period to avoid multiple credit inquiries.
2. Manual underwriting can help you qualify.
Most lenders automate their approval process to speed up transactions. However, if you fall outside conventional requirements, they can’t see your full financial picture. That’s where manual underwriting comes in.
Buyers with concerns about their income or credit should verify that their lender will manually underwrite the loan if needed.
3. Broaden your prospects with a fixer-upper mortgage.
Buying a fixer-upper can give you more home at a lower price. Did you know that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Fannie Mae offer loans that will cover the mortgage and necessary home repairs?
4. You don’t need 20% down.
Perhaps the biggest homebuying myth is that you can’t buy without 20% down. But you can. Here’s how:
Mortgage financing can feel overwhelming. But you’re not in it alone.
Reach out today for a referral to a trusted lender to get preapproved for your next home.
Like many homeowners, you might be hoping to capitalize on the hot summer homebuying season to sell your house for a pretty penny. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make enough for the beach house you’ve been eyeing or for a long summer getaway.
But first, you’ll need to get your home ready to sell. And getting a home inspection may be one of the best ways to do that.
Inspections can shed light on potential issues and help you make necessary repairs before listing your home. It might even help you fetch a higher asking price if the inspection shows that your home is in better condition than others in the area.
All in all, an inspection can:
1. Alert You to Issues Before Going Under Contract
A home inspection can highlight issues that might concern potential buyers.
Pro tip: You should fix any issues that pose a safety hazard. And your inspection report can serve as a repair guide before listing.
2. Gauge Your Pricing Expectations
Inspections help you get a handle on what condition your home is in and what price it might fetch.
Pro tip: A clean inspection report, or proof of recent repairs, can help buyers feel more confident in making an offer.
3. Prevent Closing Delays
If issues crop up during the buyer’s inspection, it could delay closing due to repairs or prolonged negotiations. The buyer could even pull their offer altogether.
Pro tip: Fixing issues before listing the home can improve the outcome of your buyer’s inspection. And that could mean less negotiation on the whole.
Keep in mind that inspections come with an upfront fee, and you’ll be legally required to disclose any issues the inspector finds. However, we can discuss the inspection report to see how repairs could affect your home’s market value.
Are you considering selling your home this year? Want to know what it’s worth or what you can expect in today’s market? Reach out today for a free local market report and see how your house measures up.
You’ve been living with your best friend since freshman year of college, and it’s been a blast. So why not pool your money and go in on a house together? After all, it’s easier to buy when you have two incomes.
It’s true that co-buying a home with friends or family can make it easier to own a home. And it can reduce your upfront costs.
But there are a few unique differences to co-buying. Here are three you should consider and discuss before you jump into the process.
1. What type of ownership will you have?
Don’t assume that splitting the mortgage determines the ownership.
If one person will be paying a larger portion, you might want to be tenants in common. This also allows you to transfer or sell your share of the property at any time. But if you want to divide the ownership equally, you can choose to be joint tenants.
2. How are your credit scores looking?
When two buyers are on a mortgage app, lenders use the lowest credit score to determine the interest rate.
Do you both have excellent credit? If not, you could have only one person on the mortgage loan, but you’ll only be able to count one income to determine the loan size.
3. How will you pay your bills each month?
This sounds like a minor detail, but it’s important to be on the same page about finances before the bills come in.
Will you pay bills out of a joint household account? Or will one person pay the full bill and have the other pay them back?
Once you’ve discussed your plans for the finances and ownership, your best bet is to have a legal agreement prepared ahead of time.
Have more questions about co-buying a home? Reach out today to discuss your needs and get the process started.
How handy would you say you are? Can you fix a leaking faucet or install a new backsplash? Do you own all the drills, power saws and sanders used by the pros?
It can be tempting to DIY it all — especially if you’re on a budget. After all, you can have an active role in improving your home, and save cash to put toward other things. Why wouldn’t you want to?
The truth is not all projects are suited for a DIYer — no matter how much of a shiplap expert you might be.
If you’re considering a few renovations, here’s when to put on your toolbelt and when you might want to call a pro:
In the Kitchen: You can probably replace a sink, reface your cabinets or install a new dishwasher.
Want to move the sink or add recessed lighting? You’ll want a pro.
In the Bathroom: Installing new floor tiles, upgrading your toilet seat or changing your showerhead are all tasks you can do.
If you want in-floor radiant heating or to install a tub where there isn’t one, bring in a pro.
On the Exterior: Looking for more curb appeal with a new garden bed and a fresh coat of paint on your front door? Have at it.
Substantial upgrades like installing a skylight, repairing your roof or repaving your driveway are better suited for a professional.
Structural Changes: If you’re super handy, you can probably install drywall or relocate a door.
But if you’re changing an area that’s load-bearing? Definitely call a pro.
Remember, DIY doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. You’ll want to hire a professional for anything that requires specialized knowledge. There’s no shame in asking for help from an expert.
Want to discuss what home renovations might improve your property’s value? Get in touch today.
Have you ever decided to buy something, only to find out about additional costs at the end? The last thing you want is to be surprised by unexpected fees – especially at your closing.
You’ve made your financial calculations. Extra charges at the eleventh hour could make all your plans go bust.
But you can't just skip the closing – that's when the legal ownership is transferred.
Want to avoid being blindsided at your closing? Here's how to plan ahead for closing fees:
What’s the deal with closing costs?
Closing costs typically run about 2% to 5% of the purchase price and are paid to lenders, attorneys and other third parties. Buyers often have more closing costs than sellers because most fees are related to the new mortgage loan.
Common closing costs for buyers:
Common closing costs for sellers:
How can you lower the costs?
After applying for a mortgage, you’ll receive a Loan Estimate from the lender. It summarizes the loan terms, such as the loan amount, interest rate and all closing costs. Comparing Loan Estimates from different lenders is important.
Page 2 of the Loan Estimate also details the services you can shop around for, such as surveys, appraisals and title searches.
Are closing costs ever negotiable?
Yes. A seller or buyer sometimes agrees to pay part or all of the other party’s closing costs. This is something we can negotiate into the purchase agreement.
As for paying the closing costs? Some lenders will allow you to roll the cost into your mortgage. However, you’ll pay interest on it for the life of the loan. Paying cash upfront is a smarter option if you have the funds available.
Have more questions about closing on a home? Or are you ready to get your home search started? Reach out today.
You know all those fantastic home features you hear your friends gushing about in their new home? The top-notch school district and Jacuzzi? The spacious third level and even more abundant yard?
Well, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But they’re not right for everyone.
In fact, for some buyers, they might even be a waste of money.
Are you on the hunt for a home this year? Give careful consideration to whether you’re paying for features you’ll use.
Want to know the three that people often overpay for?
The Biggest House on the Block
Have three dogs and a few active toddlers? Then room to run is a must. Is it just you and your spouse? Springing for a five-bedroom corner lot might not be worth the cash.
Buy for the space you need and are planning for – not the extra level you might use someday. You can always buy a move-up property if your plans change.
A Highly Rated School District
Great schools are important if kids are in your future – or if you have little ones already. But if that’s not in the cards for you, plotting your homebuying plans around them isn’t necessary.
You may find more affordable properties, and property taxes, if you search outside those school districts.
Home theaters, quartz countertops and pools are popular amenities that many buyers are willing to pay top dollar for. Are you?
Focus on the amenities you know you’ll use often and get the most value from.
It’s not always easy to evaluate your short- and long-term needs. That’s why it’s essential for us to discuss how your future plans will affect your homebuying goals.
Do you need help finding your perfect-fit home with features you’ll love (and use)? Reach out today to get started.
You’ve decided it’s time to sell your home. Your neighbor just sold for a pretty penny, but they also spent a lot on remodeling and renovations. Does that mean you need to upgrade your home to sell?
Is it worth trying to sell as is? Or will your home be passed up and stuck on the market?
Fortunately, full-scale remodels aren’t required to sell your home. Sure, a home reno might fetch more money, but it’s not always worth the time and effort.
So how do you know what’s worth fixing up? Here are the do’s and don’ts of pre-listing home renovations:
A few repairs and upgrades can certainly make your home more marketable. But a full-scale remodel? That’s not necessary in most cases.
Are you ready to sell? Get in touch today for a comprehensive review and marketing plan for selling your home.
You wouldn’t pick out shoes before choosing an outfit, right? Or buy car accessories without first deciding if you want a truck or a sedan?
Well, house hunting should be treated the same way.
You shouldn’t search for a dream home without vetting neighborhoods or experiencing the new area for yourself.
If the area doesn’t meet your needs, the property may not provide a dream scenario. So how do you make sure you’ve found the right neighborhood? Keep these details in mind:
Cost of Living
Are the property taxes and HOA fees trending upward? Are there mostly trendy boutiques and high-end businesses in the area, or does it have a good mix of local and national retailers?
Planned commercial development could affect the long-term affordability of the area. However, having more access to retailers and entertainment could enhance your lifestyle.
Commutes and Social Life
How close do you want to be to the friends and family you visit the most? How far are you willing to drive to get to the restaurants, theaters or stores that you frequent?
It’s understandable to prioritize your work commute, but keep in mind the other places you visit on a daily or weekly basis.
How does the community fit into your future goals? Are there good schools, parks or sports leagues for your family?
A thriving community adds to your quality of life. And it’s a good sign for future home values.
Want to try before you buy? Where possible, consider renting a unit in the area for a few days through a short-term rental site. Experiencing the neighborhood like a resident can help you to decide if it fits your current and future needs.
Are you looking for a new home? Get in touch if you’d like to see a neighborhood report.
TV shows make finding a profitable fixer-upper seem easy. But in the real world, there are real challenges and decisions to be made.
Whether you’re buying an investment property or a starter home for your family, there are dozens of factors to consider. How much will it cost to renovate? Are home values rising or falling in the neighborhood? How in-demand is the area?
Want to make sure your purchase isn’t a money pit? Ask yourself these four questions:
1. Does it have good bones?
We want to avoid expensive repairs that would eat into your bottom line. It’s vital to have structural elements like the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical and HVAC system inspected.
2. Is the price comparable to the area?
The property may come at a fixer-upper price, but how does it compare to others in the area? Let’s also take a look at new developments or zoning laws that could influence future home values.
3. Does it need special inspections?
Fixer-uppers need to go beyond standard inspections. Things like sewer lines, septic systems and pools age with the property, so it’s important to have each evaluated.
4. What does your contractor think?
Bringing a contractor on board early is essential when creating your renovation budget. We need to estimate the cost of any aesthetic changes or upgrades to avoid overimproving the home.
Remember, it’s not just the sticker price you want to consider when buying a fixer-upper, but the cost of the entire project.
Do you need help finding the fixer-upper of your dreams?
Together, we can evaluate the purchase price, factor in repair costs and determine the future resale value of the home.
If you’ve already got your eye on a fixer-upper, or want help finding a contractor in our area, get in touch today.
Want to take the pain out of homebuying? Keep your lifestyle priorities top of mind.
If you’re planning to buy a new home, there’s great news: More houses have hit the market in recent months. This means you’ve got more options to choose from.
Choice is always good, but it can also be overwhelming.
The key? Careful, disciplined prioritization.
Let’s go beyond square footage or the number of bedrooms and consider how the property fits your life. By focusing on what matters the most to you, we can refine your search to the closest matches.
Here are the three questions every potential homebuyer should ask themselves:
Where do you want to live?
Think beyond your commute. Do you want to be in a specific school district? How much street noise can you cope with?
Are you looking for an established neighborhood or one that’s up and coming? That could affect future home values.
What does the future hold?
Think about the next 10 years. Are you planning to have kids? Will your aging parents move in?
If you plan to stay for the long haul, you might want a property to accommodate your family today, and in the future. If you know your career will have you on the move, will you want to sell the property or rent it out?
How much work are you willing to do?
When considering condition, be honest with yourself. How much work are you truly willing to take on?
If the home needs cosmetic updates, will you want them completed before you move in? If you fall for a fixer-upper, do you have a budget for renovations?
Communication is a critical element of your home search. The more information you share, the better we’re able to match you with a home that fits your life.
Got your priorities in order? Let’s find your dream home. Reach out today.
There’s never been a better time to sell a home.
Millennials are ready for homeownership and renters are seeing consistent rent increases. This means more buyers than ever are on the market for a home like yours.
Home equity is also at all-time highs, which makes now the perfect time to sell and get more cash to put toward your next home.
Considering listing your home? Let’s start with the proven ways to maximize your returns:
1. Clear the clutter. Crammed closets and overfilled garages can give buyers the impression your property is short on space. Declutter aggressively to accentuate the storage possibilities buyers get excited about.
Pro Tip: Buyers love to open cabinets and drawers. Clear those spaces, too.
2. Maximize the possibilities. A potential home should be a blank slate -- a space buyers can imagine making their own. Keep personal items to a minimum and aim for a neutral look.
Pro Tip: Set the dinner table so buyers can visualize coming home after a long day.
3. Brighten it up. Expose as much natural light as possible. For darker or interior rooms, use high-wattage bulbs in light fixtures.
Pro Tip: A fresh coat of light paint makes a home feel cheerful and shows pride of ownership.
4. Rearrange the furniture. Can people move around without bumping into furniture? Does the layout invite guests to sit down and relax?
Pro Tip: To invite conversation, don’t make a TV the focal point of any room.
5. Outside views matter. Exteriors make a critical first impression. Ace yours by repainting your entry door and polishing the door handle. Potted plants on patios or balconies also make the outside of your home feel welcoming.
Pro Tip: Colorful flowers on window sills look great indoors and add to the outside appeal.
Do you need help staging your home? Or maybe you have budget concerns about upgrades needed before you list. Reach out today. Let’s make sure we maximize the appeal of your home, simply and cost-effectively.
Who doesn’t love getting a tax refund?
It’s exciting to know that your bank balance will get a boost. But remember, a refund isn’t a bonus -- it’s your hard-earned money, which is why you should make the most of it.
If you’re thinking of buying a new home this year -- whether it's your first home or the one you plan to retire in -- financial planning is critical.
Expecting a refund? Make a bigger impact on your home purchase with these tips:
1. Lower Your Mortgage Rate: Did you know you can pay “points” up front to lower the interest rate of your mortgage? If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, this could result in significant savings over the life of your loan.
2. Pay Closing Costs: Closing costs average about 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Many buyers roll it into their mortgage and pay it off over the life of the loan. But you could use your refund to pay it up front and avoid paying interest.
3. Save for a Down Payment: In some cases, your refund could cover your entire down payment. Some loans only require 3 percent down, so this is more realistic than you might think.
4. Boost Your Credit Score: Paying down your debts can have a significant impact on your credit score and the mortgage rate you’ll qualify for.
5. Renovate or Update Appliances: Many buyers are tempted to open a line of credit to pay for these purchases, but that could negatively impact your mortgage loan. Using your refund is the smarter move.
Remember, a tax refund is only one factor to consider in your homebuying budget. Get in touch today for a referral to a financial planner or mortgage lender if you need help preparing your budget. Let’s work together to plan your path to homeownership.
We’re approaching spring, which means the housing market is getting ramped up.
Experts agree that the market is softening for buyers, but will it be a full-on buyer’s market? Definitely not -- at least, not by springtime.
This spring, buyers will likely see fewer bidding wars, slower price growth and less competition. But sellers will still have some leverage.
Are you thinking of buying or selling a home this spring? Keep these things in mind:
1. Prices won’t skyrocket.
The last few years have seen massive jumps in home prices, especially during the busy spring buying season. This year price growth is likely to slow down a bit in most markets. We may see higher prices at the height of the buying season, but they’re unlikely to be drastically higher than those seen at the end of 2018.
2. Year-over-year inventory will likely remain stagnant.
Because mortgage rates are rising, many homeowners are staying put. New home construction continues to grow, but it still lags behind buyer demand. This means we are unlikely to see an increase in listings from previous years.
3. Bidding wars will lessen.
The days of sight-unseen offers and heated bidding wars are mostly over. Except for a few hotter markets, most buyers will enjoy a slower-paced market and a little more leverage than in years past.
4. Sellers might have to make some concessions.
As mortgage rates rise, fewer buyers are looking to get in on the market, and that means sellers will need to do more to get their attention. This could mean more concessions and more room for negotiations.
Having a knowledgeable agent on your side is crucial to effectively navigating 2019’s changing housing market. If you’re considering buying or selling this year, get in touch today for personalized advice and guidance.
Smart tech has come a long way for homeowners. With the right tools, you no longer have to get up to turn on lights or change the thermostat. Have a habit of forgetting to lock the front door or turn on your porch light at night? Smart home tech can help with that, too.
Are you thinking of installing a few smart devices in your home? Here are some of the most popular and practical options to consider:
This includes motion-activated doorbell cameras, door locks with timers and garage doors controlled by smartphone apps. These technologies can offer peace of mind for homeowners who live alone and added independence to anyone with limited mobility.
Motion detecting exterior lights are the most publicized in this category. However, there are also indoor sensors that control lights as you enter and exit a room or open and close pantry doors. And Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs allow you to customize mood lighting throughout the house. These options offer convenience while at home and added security when you’re away.
Virtually all appliances come in smart versions today -- from kitchen scales with built-in recipes to Bluetooth-enabled slow cookers to washers and dryers that let you schedule your laundry loads. These can make housework more manageable for those on a busy schedule.
These smart home tools do more than give you traffic updates. Using IFTTT (If This, Then That) customization, they can create a truly connected home. For example, they can turn on specific lights when your TV comes on or open the garage door when you get within a certain distance of the property. And they allow you to voice-activate many of your smart tech commands.
Smart home devices are also one of the most in-demand features with today’s homebuyers. Installing them could increase your property’s long-term value and marketability.
If you’re considering a new home, or have questions about your home’s value, get in touch today.
Colors have the ability to evoke emotions and change our attitudes. They can inspire and motivate us to try something new and bold. They can alter our moods and appetites, or even make a room feel small and cramped.
If you plan to redecorate a few rooms in the new year, the right color choices can make all the difference in the feeling you’re trying to achieve. Better yet, it’s one of the simplest and most affordable decor changes you can make. Not sure which colors to choose? Here are 2019’s best color palettes for home interiors, according to the Pantone Color Institute:
This palette is a mix of leisurely, rich shades like Island Green, Aurora Red and Wild Orchid. Pulled from diverse cultures, they tell the story of world travel and are great for spaces where you’ll be entertaining guests.
Proximity shows the connection between technology and nature and speaks to the challenges of modern life. These vivid blue-greens, green-blues and silver-grays are perfect for rooms with abundant natural light.
These culinary-inspired hues call to mind delicious tastes and exotic cuisines with colors like Cappuccino, Chili Pepper and Cayenne. This sensory experience is ideal for dining rooms or quiet spaces like reading nooks.
These soothing pastels evoke calm and serenity and are the epitome of comfort. The soft, nostalgic floral tones would be great in a powder room or master bedroom.
Are you planning a new look for your home? Think of these palettes as a focused road map for capturing your desired style.
If you’d like some guidance for a more substantial home renovation, or you’re interested in finding a new home this year, please reach out today.
Buying a home is a big undertaking. From finding the right property and negotiating to sorting out the legal details and moving in, there are dozens of important steps along the way. And for many first-time buyers, it can seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier, even if you’re still in the planning phase. If you know buying a home is on the horizon, you’ll want to tackle these tasks before you get too far into your search:
1. Get preapproved for your mortgage.
Research lenders, choose your mortgage company and apply for preapproval. This will give you an idea of what you can afford so we can point you toward homes in the right price range.
2. Give your budget a test run.
Once you have a rough estimate of what your monthly payment will be, give that budget a trial run. Are you still able to afford all your monthly bills and expenses? If not, let’s have a chat with your lender to see what the monthly payment could look like if we target a lower price point.
3. Start saving.
It’s never too early to start saving up for your down payment and closing costs. Cutting out unnecessary spending and setting up automatic deductions from your paychecks are two easy ways to give your savings a boost.
4. Create a wish list.
What do you want in your future home? Jot down your must-haves concerning size, location and features. You can also include some deal breakers to help guide you in your search.
Are you looking to buy your first home soon? With the right help, the process will be less overwhelming. Reach out today for step-by-step guidance or a referral to a trusted lender in our area.
When you buy a pre-owned home, do you know what will come with the house? Do you get to keep all the appliances, the art on the walls or the outdoor pizza oven on the patio?
Determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the previous owner will vary by seller and contract. Here’s how to determine what conveys with the home you’re considering, as well as tips to safeguard yourself when negotiating those extra items.
1. Check the listing. Start at square one and look at the original listing. Hopefully the seller specified the items included in their home’s asking price.
2. Know the screwdriver rule. For the most part, if it takes a screwdriver to remove, it’s considered a part of the home. This includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail, it’s removable and likely not included in the sale.
3. Negotiate with the seller. If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t part of the listing, we can negotiate with the seller.
4. Talk to your lender. If the seller agrees to include big-ticket items, you’ll want to tell your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of loan you have, it could affect the appraisal or change the value of the property.
So, unless the seller specified the washer and dryer in the listing, you should assume they’re not included. As for the pizza oven? If it’s built into the patio, it’s probably already built into the listing price.
Have more questions about what’s included with a home? Get in touch today.
4 Tips for Competing With Cash Buyers
In today’s hot market, bidding wars have become the norm. With many out-of-state buyers and property investors looking for a great deal, all-cash offers are also becoming common.
A cash offer can seem tempting for sellers since it offers the possibility of a faster closing. But despite this perk, cash buyers don’t always win. Many times, they make low offers or demand costly extras, both of which will mean lost cash for the seller.
Want to boost your chances of getting the home you want when competing with cash buyers? Here are some things to consider:
1. Include a preapproval letter. Get your financial documents in order, find a mortgage lender and get preapproved. Additionally, a note from your lender stating that you’re a well-qualified buyer can go a long way.
2. Work with a fast-moving lender. Average closing times vary significantly from lender to lender. Choosing one known for fast transactions shows sellers that you’re willing to move at their pace. Get in touch if you’d like a referral to a trusted lender.
3. Offer more earnest money or a bigger down payment. More money down means you’re serious about purchasing their home, which gives sellers more confidence in your offer.
4. Make an appropriate offer. We’ll discuss local comps to assess the home’s value, allowing you to make a solid bid right off the bat. Low offers are likely to be dismissed without a second glance.
Are you planning to purchase a new home soon? Get in touch today to discuss the right strategy for your home search.
Did you know you can buy your dream home while paying off student loan debt?
It’s true and even quite common. While student loans are factored into your debt-to-income ratio, they shouldn’t prevent you from becoming a homeowner.
And fortunately, there are many programs and options available to prospective buyers, some you may not be familiar with. Here are four ways people with student loans achieve their homeownership goals:
1. Co-buying With Friends or Family
Purchasing a home with a roommate, significant other or sibling allows you to combine multiple incomes to qualify for a better mortgage rate. This can help lower your monthly payment and make home maintenance more affordable.
2. Receiving Financial Gifts From Family
You can also accept gift money from your parents, grandparents or other family members to put toward your home purchase. Some loan programs have a cap on how much gift money can be used, so make sure you know the limits first.
3. Choosing Low (or No) Down Payment Loans
There are many low down payment options, including FHA, HomeReady and Home Possible loans. For loans with no down payment, VA loans may be available to veterans and military members as well as USDA loans for those purchasing in rural areas.
4. Using Assistance Programs
Down payment assistance programs can cover some or all of your down payment costs if you qualify. These programs vary by location, so talk with a lender to learn about potential options.
Working on your credit can also help you buy a home. Pay your credit card bills on time every month, aim to pay down your debts and never let an account go into collections. It also helps to get preapproved for a mortgage so you know how much you qualify for.
If you’re ready to make homeownership a reality or would like a referral to a trusted lender, get in touch today.
Independent living is often cited as being good for one's well-being, so it's no surprise that aging in place has become so popular. Thankfully, many options in today's housing market make it possible.
Preparing for physical safety and financial security are the most immediate concerns that come to mind as we plan for aging in place. However, convenience and overall well-being should also be considered before deciding where to settle in.
Here are three housing options to weigh as you or your loved ones plan for continued independence.
1. Renovate Your Current Home
Adding front entry ramps, bath bars, sit-in tubs and other safety features may make it physically possible to stay where you are. However, renovation costs can add up quickly, especially if they're needed all at once.
Home maintenance should also be factored in. Who will manage the upkeep if the property has multiple floors or a large yard?
2. Right-Size to a Manageable Floor Plan
Some may find it easier to purchase a home with barrier-free, universal design rather than deal with the stress of home renovations. Moving closer to family and friends can also help to prevent social isolation or depression.
3. Buy a New Home With Family Members
Floor plans for multigenerational homes are often designed with individual privacy in mind while allowing family to be nearby. Sharing home maintenance costs also minimizes living expenses. And this is an excellent way to help family members enter into homeownership.
Aging in place requires thoughtful preparation. Get in touch today for a referral to a trusted financial adviser to begin this journey. You can also reach out if you're interested in learning about your home's value or finding a new property.
A bathroom remodel is one of the most rewarding projects you can undertake as a homeowner. When well-planned, it can improve your home's aesthetics while adding convenience. And it usually offers a significant return when it comes time to sell.
Remodels don't have to break the bank, either. With just a few hundred dollars and a little elbow grease, you can make a remarkable impact to your space -- both in value and style.
Not sure where to start on your bathroom remodel? Here are some of today's hottest trends:
Bold Metal Fixtures
Forget those old handles, faucets and drawer pulls that blend in. Today's designers are making these small details stand out. Think bold brass, matte black or even rose gold.
Wallpaper is back -- especially intricately illustrated designs and bright, bold patterns. It's low-cost, easy to DIY and makes an immediate impression.
Budget: Low to Medium
Savvy consumers are using smart tech in their powder rooms for a touch of luxury. Some of the most popular features include autofilling bathtubs, voice-activated mirrors and sound systems, and LED-enhanced showerheads.
Concrete floors, walls, counters and sinks are popular with celebrity designers and new homebuilders. They offer a minimalistic, contemporary look that goes with any color palette.
Budget: Medium to High
Freestanding tubs may date to the Roman Empire, but they're making a stylish comeback. Tuck one into a corner or under a skylight to create a beautiful focal point to relax in.
If you're interested in remodeling your home or if you want to learn more about the latest trends and how your home compares, get in touch for a local market report.
Gone are the days when a three-bedroom, two-bath starter home was the norm for first-time homebuyers. Today, many buyers are skipping that stage altogether and going straight for their dream homes. They're buying bigger, more expensive properties with upgraded features, and they plan to live there for the long haul.
Not sure which type of property you should look for? Here are a few things to consider:
Why are you buying?
Are you mainly looking for a way to lower your monthly living expenses, or do you want a place to raise your kids and put down roots? Do you want this to be your only purchase, or are you willing to go through the process again in a few years?
What's your budget?
Can you buy your dream home with what you can currently afford, or would that stretch your budget too far? It's crucial to consider how much you'll need to save for a down payment and how large of a loan you can qualify for. Your credit score and the expected interest rate will also play a factor.
How long do you plan to stay?
Do you plan to be in the area for a long time or is there a chance you'll need to move for your career, family or another reason down the line?
Is the market favorable?
What is the current housing inventory, and will you be competing with other buyers? Favorable market conditions mean you'll get more house for your money, making it an ideal time to purchase a forever home.
Get in touch today if you're ready to buy a new home. If you're unsure about a starter home or forever home for your family, we can discuss what options are available to meet your needs and long-term goals.
Could you use a detached living space?
August 28, 2018
|Today's homeowners and homebuyers love detached living spaces. These small stand-alone structures located on the property come with all sorts of benefits -- from added room for storage and recreation to extra income.
They're also easy and affordable to design and install. Starting at around $9,600, this additional square footage can deliver serious bang for your buck, as detached areas can serve as:
Private Rental Space: You can offer the unit on a vacation rental site or lease it to a full-time tenant to bring in some extra income year-round.
Individual Living Quarters: These separate units are perfect for multigenerational families. They can be used by college kids home for summer or elderly parents who need assistance but want privacy. They're also ideal guest rooms for family and friends coming to visit.
Quiet Home Office: Private, quiet and separated from all the hustle and bustle of the main house, detached units make highly functional home offices for the self-employed entrepreneur or side hustler.
Creative or Leisure Room: Need somewhere to escape and relax? These units are your solution. Personalize them with an art studio, a cozy reading nook, a yoga space or whatever else helps you wind down.
Fun Kids' Playroom: Give the kids a space of their own with a toy-filled playroom in the backyard. They're perfect for late-night slumber parties and playing video games with friends.
If you're interested in building a detached living space on your property, get in touch today for recommendations for local contractors and designers. Remember to also look into any municipal or HOA restrictions, as you may need permits before starting your build-out.
Want to learn more about the market's latest real estate trends and how your house compares? Get in touch today.
Hire an Agent When Building a House
August 14, 2018
|Many homebuyers think they don't need to hire an agent when building a new home. After all, you're buying directly from the builder and they already have contractors, lenders and inspectors. Why should someone else be brought into the mix?
The truth is, buying any home without an agent can be a costly mistake. It can mean paying more than you should, missed opportunities for upgrades, contract errors that aren't in your favor or a delayed closing.
Thinking of buying a new construction home? Here are three reasons to have an agent on your side before visiting the sales office:
1. Expert Negotiation: While their advertising would have you believe otherwise, builder's prices aren't always set in stone. Agents are skilled negotiators who can likely get the price dropped slightly or have a few upgrades thrown in.
2. Preferred Vendors: Your builder might have an affiliate mortgage lender or title company, but chances are they aren't going to offer the best deal. It's important to shop around, and what's better than a vendor your agent already knows and trusts?
3. Guidance and Support: The homebuying process can be complicated, with lots of twists, turns and steps along the way. When buying new construction, you also have design reviews, electrical work and other construction needs. An agent can guide you through all of these, making sure your purchase stays on track, on time and on budget from start to finish.
It's important to note that while you may be working with an agent or representative from the builder, they may not have your best interests at heart. Enlisting your own trusted agent can give you an advocate from the very first meeting to closing day.
Are you interested in buying a new construction home? Get in touch today for more info about builders in the area.