Your Home Sale or Purchase is a Time to Celebrate!

Regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller, there’s no greater feeling than when the papers are signed and the whole real estate transaction is complete. For buyers, it means the beginning of a new life in a new home, and for sellers, it represents a time to say goodbye to the old and move on to the next chapter of their lives. Either scenario deserves a celebration.

It’s not uncommon for a REALTOR® to congratulate the buyer on their new home with a bottle of champagne. If so, don’t just put it in the fridge and save it for a special occasion. You have a new home—it doesn’t get much more special than that.

Order food from your favorite restaurant and pop the bubbly and enjoy a fun, first night in the home with your family. Or invite some friends over for a pot-luck (since you probably won’t have much food yet!) and enjoy the occasion with your first party.

If you have kids, hold a game night in your first week and try to start a new tradition by playing at a certain time in a certain room each week. You can even get a delicious dessert to mark the inaugural event.

For those moving to a new area, it’s hard to have a party since you don’t know anyone yet, but within a week or so, you should be getting to know some neighbors. Celebrate your new neighborhood by hosting a low-key barbecue. Set up some horseshoes or corn hole on the lawn and just enjoy a casual day with those you hope to be your new trusted friends.

For sellers, it’s time for you to celebrate moving on to a new home. If you’ve lived in the neighborhood a while and have a lot of friends, host a get-together at the local bar or restaurant and just ask people to come on by and raise a glass of wine to toast your time there. It’s a great way to say goodbye.

Maybe you have some time before you’re moving to your next place. If so, take a trip and relieve some of the stress that has built up over the time your house was on the market. Visit family or just take a short cruise and unwind.

Remember, being involved in a house sale is one of the most memorable moments of your life and you should take the time to appreciate and celebrate it!


Inexpensive Ways to Add Value to a Home Before Selling It

Your home is your castle. Sometimes, however, it can feel a little less regal than you’d like it to.

Outdated fixtures or not having enough space or light, among other things, can make a home feel tired and old. For about $100 or less, many features of a home can be improved to help add value to a home when selling it.

You won’t be able to expand the dining room on the cheap, but there are some simple improvements that can spruce up a house cheaply and quickly:

Update fixtures
Start in the kitchen, which is one of the first areas home buyers look at. Replace the kitchen sink faucet, replace cabinet door handles or install a new sink if you can find a deal on one.

Bathroom fixtures such as towel racks and toilet paper holders can be easily replaced, and a new toilet seat is cheap.

Lights, air
Replace old lights with a ceiling fan/light combo, or install a nice chandelier in the dining room, for example. These can cost $300 or so, but if you only need to make one change, this is the one that can pay off.

Add storage
Old homes often don’t have much closet space. Buy $100 worth of wire shelves and install them yourself and you’ve got a closet that at least makes the space look organized.

Check leaks and electrical
Hire a plumber or electrician for an hour to check your electrical services and plumbing. They can make sure everything is safe and working properly so that a potential buyer doesn’t find a leaking faucet or broken light switch or faulty outlet.

Carpet
Buying new carpet can be expensive, but an area rug can be just enough to cover an area showing serious wear. Even if you can afford it, installing wall-to-wall carpeting before selling your house isn’t recommended by most real estate agents because the new owners may want to choose their own style.

You can get your carpet professionally cleaned for a few hundred dollars, or maybe less if you can find a coupon. If your carpet is in good shape, a professional cleaning may be all it needs to look in top shape.

Curb appeal
Plant flowers, mow the lawn, pull weeds and sweep the walkway in front of your house. It will give viewers a strong first impression and can be done for much less than $100.

If all of that doesn’t work, bake cookies at home on the day of the home showing.

Hope you found this helpful! Contact me for more insights and info.

Choosing a fence for your property may be a more complex decision than you think. See how different options come across to prospective buyers.

Look out your window. Are you struggling with the sight of a worn-down fence that may not make it past the next storm? If the answer is yes, you may need to do something about it before selling your home.

While fences aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering must-have features of a home, they do play a role in how a home is perceived. An old, rickety fence is sure to leave prospective buyers with an unfavorable impression

While you can simply take down the fence and be done with it, it might make more sense to repair or renovate it if you’re looking to promote privacy and curb appeal. A fence can also help delineate property lines, protect the area around a pool, or confine a dog to the yard. It can also function as a security device to keep other people and animals out.

There are plenty of options when it comes to fencing in the 21st century.

  1. Silver-gray chain link: This standard fence is one of the most economical models. While affordability may be your goal, a chain link fence may not come across as appealing to prospective buyers.

  1. Polyvinyl: This option is also affordable and many experts agree that it is more durable and can withstands harsher elements than a chain link fence.

  1. Cedar: This fencing is growing in popularity for aesthetic reasons, although beige boards will weather to a silver-gray color if not sealed or stained.

  1. Traditional wood: While some like the old-school charm of a wooden fence, these fences tend to warp and rot from exposure to the elements or lack of diligent annual maintenance. Wood also requires frequent sealing to keep it viable.

Whatever fencing you decide to go with, just keep in mind that all municipalities have different rules and zoning ordinances in place regarding heights, and some fencing projects even require a permit. And if you’re part of a homeowner’s association, there may be additional rules regarding fencing.

As a last measure, painting an old fence can make it look like new and it is the most affordable course of action. Just make sure to fix any loose boards and remove any nails or pieces of chain as they could become a safety hazard.


5 Signs It's Time to List Your Home

Choosing to sell your home is a big decision, one that requires the careful weighing of a variety of factors. As your local real estate professional, I want to share with you this useful infographic to help you identify five signs that might indicate it is time to sell.

There are ways to save for a home, even if you’re burdened by student loans. Check out these tips!

From student loans to low-paying jobs, saving for future goals, like owning a home, can seem like a pipe dream for today’s younger generation. Financial expert and author Eric Tyson says there are powerful steps younger people can take right now to make the most of their money and save for a brighter future. He says it’s all about adopting a “savings mindset.”

According to Tyson, author of Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies®, a savings mindset involves getting the most from your spending while also spending less money in general. It also means living within your means, sticking to a budget and saving as much as you can. Two essential things to remember? Every little bit you save matters, and it’s never too late to start.

Here are few of Tyson’s tips and tricks for saving money that will help build your nest egg for buying a home before you know it.

Consider living with roommates or family. While you’re young and still free of dependents, take advantage of the opportunity to share a rental or live with relatives as opposed to living solo. If living with family, be sure to set expectations, raise concerns and establish costs and rental agreements up front.

Choose a low-cost rental. If you’re living beyond your means, now is the time to dial it back and find a place that fits within your budget. The less you're spending each month, the more you can save toward buying your own place.

Negotiate your rental increases. Some landlords increase their tenants' rent no matter how good the tenant and regardless of the state of the economy. If your local economy is weak and the rental market is soft or your living quarters are deteriorating, negotiate with your landlord. You have more leverage and power than you probably realize. Landlords don't want to lose good tenants who pay rent on time, and filling vacancies takes time and money. Craft a polite note or pay a personal visit to make your case.

Cut your utility bills. Even as a renter, try to keep utility costs low as landlords factor your energy consumption into future rental hike decisions. Adjust your thermostat and wear layers in the winter, and keep your place warmer during summer months. And if you pay for garbage service, recycle as much as possible.

Contribute to a retirement plan. Tucking away money in employer-based retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) accounts, or self-employed retirement plans is a great way to exclude money from your taxable income.

Use a health savings account. You can reduce your taxable income and sock away money for future healthcare expenses by taking advantage of a health savings account (HSA). HSAs can offer better tax savings versus retirement accounts because, in addition to providing upfront tax breaks on contributions and tax-free accumulation of investment earnings, you can also withdraw money from HSAs tax-free so long as the money is used for healthcare costs. No other retirement accounts offer this triple tax-free benefit.

Learn to cook. Cooking at home as opposed to eating out can save you hundreds of dollars each month, not to mention, keep you healthier as well. Be sure to cook enough so that you can brown bag your lunch with leftovers, too.

Eric Tyson, MBA, is the author of five national best-selling financial books, including Investing For Dummies, Personal Finance For Dummies and Home Buying Kit For Dummies. He has appeared on NBC's Today show, ABC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS and CNN, and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows and print publications. “Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies” ® (Wiley, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43141-1, $19.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. 

Are Your Passwords Protecting You?

As more and more of life takes place online, we’re sharing an increasing amount of private information on the Internet... and getting a lot more comfortable about doing so. Therein lies the problem; as we become more lax, criminals become more adept at hacking information, such as credit card and bank accounts, and social security numbers.

Your first line of defense for protecting yourself on the Internet? A stalwart password. Here are some guidelines for creating and maintaining super-strong passwords.

- Never share your password with anyone. You may think it innocent enough to give your password to a close friend or family member, but once it’s out of your hands its safety is out of your control. You never know when it can accidentally land in the hands of the wrong person.

- Create complicated passwords, but one’s you can remember.  Combine facts only you know, such as your childhood phone number, the name of your first crush or your confirmation name. Then take the first letter and/or digit of such facts and create a password that’s a mystery to others but one you’ll never forget.

- Use a mix of lower and upper case numbers, letters and symbols, choosing numbers and symbols that double for a letter, such as the @ sign for A, $ for S, and the number 1 for I. Mix these numbers and symbols to abbreviate a familiar phrase.

- Consider double authentication, like fingerprints or images.

- If it’s in the dictionary, don’t use it. There’s actually software that criminals can use to guess words used in dictionaries for passwords.

- Mix it up. While it’s tempting to only have to remember one password, don’t. Use different passwords for different sites—that way if one gets hacked, it won’t take down your entire online world.

Source: connectsafely.org 

Don't Forget to Focus on Yourself Over the Holidays

There are so many things to love about the holiday season, but sometimes we forget that. We get caught up in coordinating events, stressing about hosting and trying to manage conflicts between family members. One thing that’s been proven to lessen this kind of stress is carving out “me time” on a regular basis. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Set your alarm 
While waking up when it’s still dark and cold out is not everybody’s favourite chore, setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier can give you a chance to greet the day before the morning chaos has begun. Enjoy your coffee in peace and take this time to reflect.

Use your benefits
If you have the luxury of a workplace that provides benefits, check and see if they provide you with coverage for a certain amount of massage therapy. Since most people’s benefits expire at the end of the year, this is an ideal time for you to book a relaxing massage and have it covered.

Scrap the desk lunch
During a busy workday, it can seem like a better use of time to keep your workflow chugging along as you simultaneously scarf down a lunchtime sandwich or salad at your desk. The risk, of course, is that you end up exhausted at the end of the day. Make a pact with yourself, if only for the season, to take a full break for your lunch. Whether you use the time to go for a stroll or find a quiet nook, use the time to let your mind recharge. As a bonus, you’ll feel refreshed when it’s time to tackle your afternoon tasks.

The holidays are all about thankfulness and gratefulness, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with taking some time for yourself. Your friends and family will notice the difference, and so will you.