Halloween can be a wonderful time for adults and children. At the same time, homeowners must make sure that their home is safe for visitors. When a homeowner takes the necessary steps for safety, the worst thing they’re left worrying about is a child having too much sugar.
Home Safety Begins at the Road
When people think home safety they only look at the interior of the home and the immediate area outside the home. But the risk of injury on a person’s property begins at the property line. Before Halloween arrives, and on a routine basis, walk the typical entry way to the home from the road to the front door step. Are there any trip hazards? Is the path to the door even and easily accessible?
Lighting is an essential element of home safety and Halloween is no exception. While the temptation for Halloween is to make everything a little darker or more mysterious than usual, the risk of injury to others is also a possibility. By lighting up the entry way the resident sends a message that visitors are welcome and that safety is important.
Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips
For those children old enough to go trick or treating, but not old enough to go by themselves, a parent with a flashlight can help young children avoid many hazards. The light serves to alert drivers and can also light the way if very dark areas are encountered. Other safety tips include dressing children in outfits that are easy to see and that do not reduce the field of vision of the child. When children convince their parents to allow a darker costume, a good trade off might be to have the child wear a glow-stick for the night as a means to keep visibility and safety to a maximum.
Halloween can be a wonderful experience for parents and children as long as everyone stays safe and the approach to the home is free of hazards. Proper planning ahead of time is the way to make it a memorable night for all.
“Since she was a little girl, she’s always wanted a Victorian,” he explained. It was Thanksgiving 2008 and Lillian’s sister sent her the Gardner, MA listing. Three days later, Edwin and Lillian went to see the home.
“The minute we walked in, we felt like we were going back in time,” Gonzalez said. “Lillian said, ‘This is mine!’ It was a dream home, really, it’s very charming. It calls you in.”
They bought the home and moved in about six months later. That’s when they started hearing rumors about the stately Victorian. Apparently, their dream home was haunted.
The home is known as “The Victorian.” A gorgeous and enormous estate, it was built by furniture maker S.K. Pierce in 1875. With bay windows, intricate wood work and a mansard roof, the house is a prime example of the period’s Victorian architecture.
Nonfiction author Eric Stanway is writing a book about the home’s history, which he believes could be the cause of alleged ghost sightings on the property.
The first owner, Pierce, moved into the home with his family and shortly after, tragedy struck. His wife died suddenly of a bacterial disease, and he remarried another woman, Ellen, 20 or so years his junior. The age difference didn’t sit well with Pierce’s son, Stanway says.
As a result, Ellen inherited the property instead of Pierce’s son. Following her death, Ellen’s son, Frank, took over the home in the 1900s. Frank, however, reportedly lost the entire estate in a card game, though he was allowed to remain living in the basement.
“He’s one of the ghosts,” explained Stanway.
There are other rumors of unhappiness in the home, says Stanway. A girl drowned in the pond out back and at one point, the home reportedly operated as a brothel and one of the women working there was murdered in an upper bedroom. Another resident, a Finnish immigrant, fell asleep while smoking and burned to death.
“It’s had its share of things,” said Stanway. All of these events, he theorizes, have led to the influx of ghosts. “The place is crawling with them!”
The home at one point was slated to be torn down, not because of ghost activity, but for another issue. The house had not been updated for some time and at one point, stood vacant for 20 years.
Yet after the home was condemned, the city of Gardner didn’t have the funds to go through with demolition. The house ended up selling to another buyer. A younger couple, Stanway says, bought it with plans to fix it up.
But the new owners only lived there a few years before moving out. Again, the home was vacant until Gonzalez and Lillian decided to buy in 2008.
Gonzalez says he knew nothing of the home’s history when he moved in, but from day one, he’s reported odd things happening: an enormous potted plant tipping over for no reason, shadowy figures, footsteps, and a glass ornament that was moved from the mantle to rest exactly in the middle of the floor several times.
But, it wasn’t until Gonzalez saw his first ghost that he started to believe that the home was more than just a bit odd. Prior to that, he dismissed any haunting story.
“I heard rumors about ghosts, but I thought it was so silly and I thought people just said that because [the house] was creepy,” he said.
But then he had what he calls a “life-changing experience.”
“I saw a man appear in the nursery, in broad daylight, in what was my office,” Gonzalez said. “When I looked, this man, with jet black eyes, looked at me in this pasty white color. I didn’t expect it; I started shaking.”
Around the same time, a new neighbor stopped by asking Gonzalez if one of his kids could play. Gonzalez and Lillian don’t have children, but the neighbor claimed to have seen a small boy several times in the window.
Unbeknownst to Gonzalez, Lillian was having her own strange experiences, which culminated one morning. Lying in bed, Lillian said she felt a sudden pressure on her chest and lungs, making it impossible to move. That moment in 2011 scared both Gonzalez and Lillian enough that Gonzalez decided it was time to move out. Gonzalez says they haven’t really been back since, other than to host the occasional ghost tour.
Gonzalez and Lillian still own the home and have had it featured on a few ghost hunter TV shows. This fall, they’re offering ghost tours of the home with benefits going to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Despite their experiences, Gonzalez is unsure about selling. They still love the home and see its potential.
“It’s still Lillian’s dream to fix it up,” he says. For now, they’re holding onto it — living in an apartment, while deciding whether the ghostly property is worth the investments.
Author Stanway echoes Gonzalez.
“It’s a remarkable place,” he adds. “Architecturally, it’s brilliant.”
How? By not refinancing.
While the refinance fad has faded since interest rates began rising this fall, millions of Americans still stand to benefit from a refinance. Quicken Loans estimates that at least 1.5 million people are missing out on $100 to $200 a month in savings by not refinancing their mortgages.
That’s about $2.5 billion in lost savings this year alone.
But there’s good news: Homeowners are being given a second chance to snap up those savings. Interest rates were rising steadily for a few weeks in August, but after the government shut down and the Federal Reserve decided to continue its economic stimulus plan (despite previous announcements that the plan would wind down sooner rather than later), interest rates dropped again and are still hovering close to 4 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
Historically, that is a low, low rate. If you took out a fixed-rate mortgage any time before mid-2011, chances are very good that your interest rate is higher than that. Just five years ago, interest rates were right at or above 6 percent, according to Freddie Mac.
That 2-percentage-point difference in the amount of interest you’ll pay can add up to tens of thousands of dollars—and that’s not pocket change. Yet some homeowners are willing to just hand that money over to the bank instead of refinancing.
“What’s interesting is we know a lot of these people religiously clip coupons to save 25 cents and yet they can save $100 or $200 a month and won’t do it,” Quicken Loans’ chief economist Bob Walters says.
Some homeowners aren’t rushing to refi for a number of reasons:
1. They don’t know what’s at stake.
“Awareness is part of it,” Walters said. “Some people are just not aware after all this time or they have tuned out what’s happening in the financial markets.”
Frequently, they don’t realize how much money is at stake. Yes, refinancing will take time and (usually) money. But for borrowers who can pay the upfront costs and keep them under $1,000, there’s little chance a refinance won’t be worthwhile.
“Find a trusted lender and have the conversation,” says Hale Walker, co-founder and senior vice president of residential mortgage lender Michigan Mutual. “That should cost you nothing to financially go through the process and find out exactly what it would cost and what the benefits would be cost.”
2. They’re gun-shy.
Of the people who are aware, some are just weary skeptics. They tried a few years ago and got the runaround dealing with disreputable characters offering everything under the sun, Walters said.
Many may be fatigued from trying with little success and are dismissive of the idea.
3. They may not have been eligible.
The steady rise of home prices this year has pulled a lot of homeowners out from underwater, freeing them to refinance. While homeowners with mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac were able to refinance while underwater through HARP 2.0, those with privately held mortgages typically were not given that same chance.
4. They don’t think it’s worth the hassle.
Some homeowners just look at the time and upfront expense and think that there’s no way it could be worth the trouble.
“When I’m taking a loan application, the amount of documentation I have to get from you is almost offensive,” Walker says. And if lenders aren’t being active and responsive in the process, that can lead to bigger headaches.
But lenders are loosening some standards and are learning the new government regulations as they attempt to streamline the process.
“It’s really a matter of taking a deep breath,” Walters said. “What’s the worst that can happen? You might miss the first half of your favorite sitcom–that’s all it takes to run the numbers and pull someone’s credit and take a look at this.”
Home insurance costs seem to go up every year. But going without insurance is too risky. So, we grit our teeth and pay the bill each year. Of course, we could competitively shop the policy every year, but that’s onerous. It takes a lot of study to understand the difference between policies. Often it’s easier to stay with the policy that has the appropriate coverage. And longer-term policyholders can earn discounts for longevity. Here are 10 ways that you can control your home insurance costs:
Increase deductibles. Insurance isn’t meant to cover the small stuff. Set deductibles as high as you can afford. For example, a $150,000 house could have a $1500 or 1% deductible.
Make improvements. Install a backup generator, a whole house surge protector, and smoke/CO2 detectors. Refit roof trusses with strapping.
Opt for hip roofs. Hip roofs offer the most slippery shape in high wind settings or storms. You don’t want areas that can catch the wind and are prone to damage.
Locate intelligently. Stay away from flood prone areas. Look for brick or stone houses in high wind areas and wooden frame houses in earthquake-prone areas. Locate in communities with professional fire departments. Have your home inspected before purchase. Also check the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report of your home before purchase to see insurance claim history.
Don’t make small claims. Frequent claims can drive up rates. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Insurance is meant to protect from catastrophic loss.
Reinforce your home. Install storm shutters, reinforce the roof, retrofit older homes for earthquake resistance, and modernize heating, plumbing, electrical to reduce risk of fire and water damage.
Improve home security. Add smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and deadbolts.
Exclude land value. It’s unlikely the land beneath your home will be stolen or burned in a fire. Insure the value of the home only.
Combine policies with one insurer. Most insurance companies offer discounts for multiple policy households. Combine home and auto insurance. Then buy an umbrella liability policy over both to optimize cost.
Eliminate unnecessary coverage. Don’t buy coverage you don’t need: earthquake coverage is unnecessary in most zones; don’t schedule jewelry if it’s inexpensive, etc.
Talk to your agent about other discounts. Sometimes there is a discount for good drivers, or retirees, or people with good credit ratings.
Conversely, be sure you have enough insurance. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Saving a few dollars a year will seem silly if you find out you’ve skimped on coverage that later costs you thousands. Be sure to read the policy and ask your agent a lot of questions so you understand what coverage you do and don’t have.
Paying attention to your home insurance can ensure that you have the optimal coverage with the right risk/cost balance. That’s smart.
But, do you know why you’re paying so much to protect your home? More importantly, have you considered the different ways you could reduce your home insurance rate?
The factors that contribute to what you pay for your home insurance are all over the map.
Some factors may surprise you (trampoline, anyone?) while others are fairly obvious. And while some factors may be out of your control, others are definitely within your control – and thus, allow you to play a big part in the cost your policy.
Want to know what factors contribute to the price of your home insurance policy? Here are five…
#1 – Home’s Age and Construction Type
When you bought your home or condo, you probably peppered the realtor with all kinds of questions: When was it built? What materials were used? How many bedrooms? What’s the square footage? What kind of flooring and windows does it have? How about the roofing?
Insurance companies ask the same kinds of questions and they’ll use the answers to determine the price of your home insurance policy, according to Jim Whittle, assistant general counsel and chief claims counsel at the American Insurance Association (AIA).
The Insurance Information Institute (III) also notes the condition of your home’s plumbing, heating and electrical system as factors that determine your rate.
Whittle recommends working with insurance companies to craft the kind of coverage you want and personalize it to meet your home’s needs.
“You might say, okay, I’ve got an older house, but I’m willing to accept more risk personally,” Whittle explains. “So I’m going to have a higher deductible and, as a result, you’ll pay a lower premium.”
#2 – Home’s Vulnerability to Criminal Activity
If you live in a high-crime area that’s more prone to theft, this may concern your home insurance company and cause your premiums to go up, Whittle says.
That’s because the more crime there is in your neighborhood, the more at risk you and your home are, and as a result, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll file a claim due to theft. As you can probably imagine, insurers don’t like those chances.
And while the criminal activity in your neighborhood may be out of your control, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the concern your home insurance company may have.
For starters, the III notes that “Most insurance companies provide 2 percent to 15 percent discounts for devices that make a home safer – dead-bolt locks, window grates, bars and smoke/fire/burglar alarms.”
Of course, discounts will vary depending on your insurer, so you’ll want to do some research to find out what type of security devices your home insurance company offers discounts for.
#3 – Firefighting Response Time
As strange as this may sound, the distance between your home and a fire station is a factor that insurers mull over when figuring out your home insurance rate.
“The proximity of your home to a fire hydrant (or other source of water) and to a fire station, whether your community has a professional or volunteer fire service and other factors that can affect the time it takes to put out fires,” are all considered when determining how much you’ll be charged on insurance, according to the III.
This factor also ties together with the materials used to construct your home, since some are more fire-resistant than others.
“In wildfire areas, brick beats cedar,” Whittle says.
Looking for ways to get a red-hot, fire-related discount?
“You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks,” according to the III. “Some companies may cut your premiums by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations.”
#4 – Your Credit Score
Your credit score, as you may know, is a three-digit number that essentially predicts the likelihood of you paying your bills. The higher your number, the better your reputation among financial companies.
“As allowed by law, many insurance companies use a credit-based ‘insurance score’ when evaluating insurance applications or policies,” writes the American Insurance Association in its report on credit-based insurance scores.
It adds that “The way you handle your credit says a lot about how responsible you are. Insurance companies want to reward responsible people by making sure you don’t pay more than you should. That’s why insurance scores are so useful.”
If you talk to your insurer and find out that a poor credit score is what’s causing you to have such a high bill, Whittle recommends shopping around because not every company uses your credit score when calculating risk.
#5 – Your Dog’s Breed
Thinking about getting a family pooch? It could affect what you pay for homeowner’s insurance.
“Your dog’s breed could affect your premium since some studies have demonstrated that certain breeds are more susceptible to biting than others,” Whittle says.
“You have to remember: homeowner’s policies don’t only cover repairing the home,” Whittle says. “You’re also paying for liability insurance in the event that someone gets hurt on your property.”
These injuries could include dog bites, which accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2012, costing nearly $489 million, according to the III.
Based on this statistic, it’s not a surprise that insurers view dog owners as a risk.
However, as Whittle mentioned, the affect your dog has on your home insurance premium will depend on how aggressive your dog’s breed is. For example, the III adds that some insurers may charge more for homeowners who have pit bulls or Rottweilers.
Many now realize that it is a great time to buy a home. It might also be an opportune time to sell your house. Here are the five reasons we believe now may be a perfect time to put your house on the market.
1. Demand Is High
The most recent Existing Home Sales Reports by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show a double digit percent increase in sales year-over year; sales have remained above last year’s levels for over 25 months. There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.
2. Supply Is Beginning to Increase
Total housing inventory is again approaching historic norms of a 5 month supply compared with 4.3 months in January. Many expect inventory to continue to rise as 3.2 million homeowners escaped the shackles of negative equity in the last 12 months and an additional 1.9 million are expected to enter positive equity in the next 12 months. Selling now while demand is high and before supply increases may garner you your best price.
3. New Construction Is Coming Back
Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative for many purchasers.
4. Interest Rates Will Again Rise
Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.
Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.
5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life
Look at the reason you are thinking about selling and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is the possibility of a few extra dollars more important than being with family; more important than your health; more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of your situation by putting the house on the market today. The time may have come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.
Instant autumn garden
Start with the plants, then pick your containers that will extend the color theme.
Cluster containers of different shapes and sizes in threes or plant a single pot with three kinds of plants, for the best-looking displays.
This theme: Wine Punch
Pops of icy blue in cooling contrast with warm combos of bright pinks and deep purples.
Falling for cocoa
The theme: Deep bronze, burgundy, and plum shades along with leaves that turn reddish throughout the season creating an autumn experience right on your porch.
Lime and chocolate
Billowy burgundy Agonis, trailing lime-colored Grevillea, and curly plum heuchera in egg-shaped pots create a rustic vignette against a weathered wooden garage.
Touch of bronze
Bronze and chartreuse foliage mingle in a 16-inch rose-blushed celadon pot.
Smoke and berries
Bright cotoneaster berries fringe a shapely Atlas cedar in pitted burnt-orange pots. (Large is 18 inches wide; small is 16 inches wide.)
If you like the ideas here, be sure to check out 48 more container garden plans. Before you get started, find out which plants grow best in your climate zone. And if you don’t know which climate zone you live in, you can find your zone here.
The internet is now a pervasive (some folks even say necessary) part of the modern household. Not only do computers, phones, and tablets use the internet, but smart TVs stream huge amounts of content from the web. You can even now enjoy a smart fridge with its own touchscreen and internet connection! Seriously — you can download MP3s, check your email, and organize your photo albums using an internet refrigerator. Give it time and we’ll all be rocking smart toilets. The message is clear: The internet’s here to stay, and greater access throughout our homes (and even in our cars) is a continuing trend.
Wifi is the most common and obvious solution for getting the internet throughout your entire house. A single router broadcasts a wireless signal that passes through walls, floors, ceilings, and any other obstacles.
Of course, wifi has its own downsides and limitations. An improperly secured network leaves your internet open to nefarious individuals who might violate your privacy. Also, wireless access is not yet as robust as a wired connection for use with online games, where any interruption to the flow of data can spell doom and gloom. Wifi also won’t always penetrate thick walls, especially if that wall isn’t standard stud-and-drywall construction or there are several walls between your router and the device trying to use its signal.
For those reasons and more, you might prefer an actual cable for providing internet service to your bedrooms, office, and other rooms in your home. You have options besides a simple wifi network for getting the internet into each room.
Run some cable
Your router probably has jacks on the back for a couple of additional ethernet cables. While the cable that came with your computer might only be a few feet long, this type of cable is also available in huge spools. You probably see where this is going — instead of using a wifi connection, you can run the ethernet cable through the walls, floors, and ceilings of your house so that a cable or jack (or two) is available in every room.
Doing this presents a few challenges. First, compared to most houses, the internet is actually relatively young. Home networking just wasn’t a home-building concern 10 to 15 years ago, and putting in networking cables and jacks still isn’t a universal practice for most home construction. If your home doesn’t already include it, setting up internet cable behind walls will take some know-how and elbow grease.
While poking a hole in drywall isn’t a terribly difficult task, building and construction codes may regulate where your network cable can be placed; you can’t just throw the cable behind some drywall and expect to satisfy code. For example, many jurisdictions require that networking cable must be several inches away from electrical wiring. Running that cable will require drilling holes in your studs so the cable can pass through. You’ll also have to avoid any duct work, plumbing, and other obstacles within the walls.
In addition, you’ll generally want a wall port (like a power outlet for internet cable) for each room, instead of leaving a cable dangling out into the room. You will also need a hub for all these cables if you’re running them to more places than your cable modem has ports, which usually means setting aside a small network nook (or building a LackRack) where your modem and routing equipment can reside. Running network cables throughout your house is pretty straightforward, but it is definitely a serious DIY project and maybe even something you’ll want to hire professionals to do.
If the idea of running network cable through your walls fills you with dread, powerline networking might be more up your alley, since your home probably enjoys electricity in each room already. All those outlets mean your house has a huge system of connected cables for moving electricity around. Powerline networking uses that system for internet communication in addition to its current task. A powerline network won’t keep you from using those electrical wires for their normal purpose even while you’re using them for network traffic as well.
To set up your network, you’ll need a set of powerline networking adapters, which cost around $100 and are available at numerous retailers. You essentially put one adapter in a power outlet to receive the signal coming from your router and put another adapter in the room where you’d like to connect to the internet. The task of setting up a powerline network can get a little more complicated when you do multiple rooms, but the basic practice will stay the same.
The internet coming from powerline adapters can feel a little slower than a standard network, but it’s very reliable. The biggest drawback of powerline adapters is their bulky size. The adapter needs to be plugged directly into the wall outlet, since plugging into a power strip can slow down the connection speed, and adding a surge protector to the equation might scrub the data signal altogether. In many outlet-starved homes, the powerline adapters’ large size could be a significant inconvenience. It’s still probably easier than dragging network cables behind drywall and through studs, though.
Powerline networking isn’t the only way to avoid putting in new cables or resorting to wifi. You can do something similar with your phone lines and television cables using a method commonly referred to as HomePNA. HomePNA uses your existing phone wires and coaxial cable to stand in for internet cable. Using coax and phone lines is especially handy, since most homes have plenty of cable TV hookups and telephone jacks.
HomePNA isn’t much more complicated than powerline networking to setup, though you need to be sure you buy the right adapters. For example, an adapter with ports for your cable television cable’s coax connection won’t necessarily have a place for a phone jack. As more folks eschew traditional landline phones in favor of cell phones, HomePNA is an attractive way to get a little more life out of all the phone jacks already present in your home.
You have options!
If you’re ready to embrace the internet-in-every-room lifestyle, you have options. You could just default to wifi, of course, but that signal might not be strong enough. You can string networking cable throughout the house, make use of some powerline networking, or give your coaxial and telephone lines a new lease on life with HomePNA. Universal internet is definitely here, but getting it into every room doesn’t have to be a headache or hassle.
The real estate market is a place where most people will make their largest investment ever. It is a place where fortunes can be, and often are, made. It is not a place, however, for you to “wing it”.
While the myriad TV shows about real estate make the process look so simple – it’s not really that simple… they make it seem like all you need to do is slap a for sale by owner sign in the yard, have one open house with fresh flowers and fresh baked cookies and bam! SOLD! in one day. Well I can tell you that in New Hanover County, North Carolina it takes an average of 121 days to sell a home. An average means that some houses take much longer to sell and some much less than 121 days to sell.
You need a professional, full time, well educated, ethical and trustworthy REALTOR to represent you whether buying or selling real estate.
1 – Paperwork
Currently in North Carolina there are over 24 pages of contracts involved with buying or selling most homes. The state law requires much of this paperwork regardless or whether or not you hire a REALTOR. REALTORS are trained and educated on the contracts, which are constantly changing, so they can advise you during the process. They can also refer you to a real estate attorney to represent you on all legal matters involved in the process.
2 – Process
There are about 180 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. (Based on a report prepared by the Orlando Regional REALTORS Association). So this means that if you choose to go it on your own, you are going to have to do all 180 things yourself… or they don’t get done… which probably means your transaction doesn’t end in a successful purchase/sale.
3 – Negotiation
While there will always be that one guy (or gal) who thinks he (she) is the all-time greatest negotiator, the vast majority of folks do not like confrontational interactions. A negotiation for the purchase/sale of an asset as large as a piece of real estate can be a very confrontational interaction. The role of the REALTOR is to act as a buffer between the two parties who are in the midst of a very emotional and high-level financial transaction, both wanting to get the best they can get often at the detriment of the other party. A real estate professional is experienced in all aspects of the negotiation and is bound legally to do only what is in the best interest of his/her client.
4 – Values
Perhaps the single most important aspect of the transaction is the value of the piece of property.
If you are a seller you want to know how much you can expect to get for the sales price and how much of that you will walk away with in your pocket. You want to advertise the property for sale at the right price so you sell for as much as possible but you don’t want to price it so high that no buyers make you an offer (and YES if you price it too high MOST buyers will not want to offend you by making a low offer…thus you don’t get any offers).
If you are the buyer, you want to know how much to offer. Now multiple offer situations are happening more frequently and if a buyer offers too low, they can either be rejected completely by the seller or they can cause the negotiation to take too long thus allowing time for a competing bid to come in… allowing the seller to be in the driver’s seat.
5 – Teacher
Any good professional, whether a real estate professional, doctor, lawyer, CPA, etc., will have the heart of a teacher. Real estate brokerage is a service business. The professional REALTOR is there to educate you about the conditions impacting today’s real estate market. It is as easy as picking up the newspaper or searching the Internet for real estate news to see conflicting headline after conflicting headline. “Prices are up 20%”, “Among worst markets in nation”, “Best year since the crash”…well which is it? All real estate is local and your real estate professional will know the local market conditions and will lead you through the process, like any good teacher would, making sure you understand all that is going on around you.
A real estate professional is a crucial member of your team when buying or selling real estate. You could be buying your first home or your tenth home, an investment property or a vacation home, commercial or residential…whichever it is you are best served in the care of a full time, well educated, ethical, trustworthy real estate professional.
Most upgrades, renovations, and home improvement projects raise a home’s resale value. But in this episode of Destination Home Sabrina Soto, host of HGTV’s “The High/Low Project,” reveals five renovations that can do just the opposite.
That is, Soto qualifies, if you’re planning on selling in the next five years. “If you’re going to stay in your home for a long time, do whatever makes you happy — surround yourself with Pepto Bismol pink if that’s what you like,” she tells Destination Home. But if resell value matters, here’s what to avoid:
Converting bedrooms into other spaces: If potential homebuyers “see it’s a four-bedroom house, they want to go to the open house and see four bedrooms. You have to take the guesswork out,” says Soto. If you do convert a room, there’s one feature you should absolutely never mess with. Watch the video to find out what that is.
Hot tubs: Soto thinks inheriting someone else’s hot tub is a turn-off — and she’s not alone. “You’d be surprised how many potential buyers find them to be a little gross.” And once a hot tub is installed, it’s not an easy feature to remove from a deck or backyard.
Colored trim and textured walls: It seems like any potential homebuyer would see these features and know they can easily paint over them, but not so fast, says Soto. “I would much rather paint walls than trim any day — it’s a beast of a job,” she says. And textured walls are “a mess to sand down and remove. The fad is over anyway, so just let it go.” If you feel your trim is outdated, see the video for Soto’s tips on what to do.
Children’s theme bedrooms: Spending hundreds of dollars on a mural for your child’s wall is throwing money away. Not only will they outgrow it in a matter of years, but “you’re never going to get that money back when you sell, so just keep it neutral,” posits Soto.
Too much landscaping: Conventional wisdom says you want your yard to look as nice as possible, but heed Soto’s warning: you want to “keep up with the Joneses — but don’t exceed them.” To a potential buyer, gorgeous, overdone landscaping screams high-maintenance.