Tips To Sell Your Home in Winter

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If you are planning to sell your home in the winter, there are certain essentials to consider.

Staging

Staging the home allows potential buyers the opportunity to see a home as it could be. Although it’s the holiday season, you don’t want to offend anyone. Stick to non-religious decorating and keep it minimal. A Christmas tree adds a nice touch but don’t deck the halls with every light and all the holiday decor you own. Because it gets dark early in the winter, let in as much light as you can by cleaning windows, utilizing spotlights and opening the drapes and blinds. Add warmth through rugs and throw blankets. Finally, increase atmosphere by lighting a fire for that extra bit of coziness.

Curb Appeal

No matter what time of year you’re selling your home, curb appeal is key. If you are in an area with snow, make sure to shovel the pathways and driveways to keep the area clear and walkable. If you don’t have snow, make sure you don’t have a lot of dead plants. You want it to look like the garden has year-round potential.

Make It Inviting

Make each potential buyer feel like a guest in your home. Turn up the heat, put on some light music and light a fire. You may even consider setting the table so it looks ready for a feast!

Easy Credit Building for First-Time Home Buyers

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Having a good credit score is not essential for buying a house. There are programs out there that help people with bad credit become home owners, but the better your credit score, the less expensive your loan will be. Check out these credit-building tips for first-time home buyers to boost your score.

Pay down your credit card balances. Credit utilization is how much of your approved credit you’re using, and your credit utilization rate makes up about 30% of your score. The higher your usage, the lower your score. Most experts recommend to keep it under 30% to maximize your credit score.

Remove late payments & collections from your report. Payment history has the largest impact on your credit score at 35%. Even just one late payment can bring your score down. As a late payment ages, its negative effect lessens, and after 7 years, it drops off entirely, but there are a few ways to get them removed sooner: call the creditor to have it removed if it is an error; contact creditor as soon as you realize it’s late and ask them not to report it; or dispute it with the credit bureau.

Become an authorized user. An easy way to give your score a “boost” is to borrow someone else’s. You can do this by becoming an authorized user on the account of someone with an excellent credit score.

Don’t apply for a new credit card for 6 months. Every time you apply for a new card, your score takes a hit. Also, your score takes the average age of accounts into consideration. A new card may dip you just below a lender’s cutoff for a better rate.

Get free credit reports. Take advantage of free reports which can show you where you need to improve.

Take advantage of Programs Like FHA. If you have a score of at least 580, the FHA allows you to apply for a loan with a mere 3.5% down payment. If your score is lower, you can still apply with 10% down.

Buying a home is an exciting time. Don’t be discouraged by bad credit scores. There are many options out there for those with less than stellar credit, and if you start the credit-building today, you can help set yourself up financially for later. A higher credit score allows you to qualify for better terms on a loan, which will save you a bundle in the long run.

How To Make Your Holiday Decorating Merry & Bright

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Thanksgiving is over and leftovers gone. Now, it’s time to break out the holiday décor! Decorating for the holidays should be a joy and something to look forward to, but with limited time and a large amount of options, that’s not always the case. Holiday decorating can be overwhelming and may have even become something you dread! Make your decorating merry and bright this season with top tips to decorate like the pros.

Plan Ahead. It’s easy to stress when thinking about how you want to decorate your home for the holidays but don’t. Set a decorating budget, then create a plan for where you want your decorations and what color palette you want to use. By starting with these simple steps, a clear plan and vision will come to light.

Bring Holiday Cheer to Every Room. Typically, people think living room, entryway and kitchen, but don’t forget the bedrooms and bathrooms. People coming to your home may not see your bedroom, but it’s a great way to bring cheer where you lay your head.

Dim the Lights. Bring instant ambiance to any room by adding plug dimmers to all your lights. Inexpensive to do but helps set the mood for the coziest time of year.

Wrap Your Gifts Early. Yes, that means get your holiday shopping done early as well. Don’t hide your gifts away; make them beautiful! Try to choose color coordinated wrapping paper, ribbons and bows. Not only will you add something beautiful to your home, but you will also be able to cross something off that to-do list.

Why Selling a Home During the Winter May Be the Best Decision Ever!

Everyone knows that the spring is the best time to see your home. There are hordes of buyers looking to move before the school year begins. Well…maybe not. Selling your home during the winter could reap cash rewards and make you a real estate winner. Winter can be a great time to sell. Here are some of the top reasons to let go of your home when the temperatures drop.

Low inventory = less competition. There are fewer homes for sale in the winter. Everyone has heard of the law of supply and demand: low supply and high demand increases price and vice versa. The low inventory of homes for sale in the winter can make it an ideal time to sell and help you get top dollar for your home.

You get to show your homes winter appeal. Not only does selling during the winter allow home sellers to show that there home can handle the harsh elements, it also helps them show off some of its best features. Fireplaces and hot tubs become more appealing to home buyers during the winter.

Winter brings out the serious buyers. Since more homes tend to go on the market in the spring, this is also when window shoppers are likely to be out looking. Looky-loos may be more scarce during the winter, which means you may have less people at your Open House but more real buyers.

Year-end financial bonuses and payouts.  Year-end performance reviews and bonuses may mean more money to spend on a home.

Corporate relocation. During the winter months, you may be more likely to encounter buyers who are relocating for a job. The two biggest months for relocation are January and February so buyers needing to move quickly are out in full force looking at homes. Relocators typically have a limited amount of time to move and don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time looking at properties which means faster sales and less negotiations.

Looking to sell your home? Contact me to find for a FREE valuation of your home.

Top Tips To Keep Your Home Safe This Holiday Season

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It’s the holiday season, and for many that means traveling to spend time with family and friends. Unfortunately, there are Grinches out there just looking for signs that your home is empty. If you don’t have a security system, there are other ways to help keep your home from being just another crime statistic. Here are some of the top tips to keep the burglars at bay this season.

1. DO NOT post any travel plans on social media. I know this is hard to do. You want to share those special holiday memories but wait until you get back. You never know who will see your posts and realize that no one is home.

2. Lose the hidden key. If you keep an emergency key outdoors, now is the time to bring it in. No matter how clever you think you have hidden it, there may be someone watching and ready to ruin your holiday cheer. If people need access to your home while you’re away, give them a key or consider installing a smart lock with a keypad.

3. Set lights to turn on and off. Set some timers or install programmable light switches on your indoor lights so they periodically turn on and off. This will make it appear that the house is occupied. Another option is to install some smart bulbs that can be programmed using a smart phone app. Smart bulbs are convenient and allow you to vary the schedule while you’re away.

4. Leave a radio playing. Tune in to an all-talk or news station and leave it playing while you’re away. A potential burglar may hear it playing and think that someone’s home.

5. Stop the mail and newspaper. Either stop delivery or have someone pick them up daily so they don’t pile up; it’s a sure sign that nobody’s home.

6. Lock the doors & windows. Perhaps the most obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to lock the doors and windows when they head out of town. Don’t forget to lock the garage as well. Turn off automatic openers and consider a padlock on the inside so it can’t be opened.

7. Install motion sensors on outdoor lights. If outdoor flood lights come on as an intruder approaches the house, they may have second thoughts.

8. Arrange to have snow cleared if you live in an area where it snows. Nothing says “Nobody’s home” like a snow-covered driveway and walkway days after a snowfall.

Hope these tips help your holidays be cheerful ones!

The Surprising Upsides of Holiday Home Shopping

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With so many gifts to shop for, should you add shopping for a new home to your holiday shopping list? It’s such a busy time of year, and it might be better to simply wait. But maybe not! Buying a home during the holiday season does have its rewards, and you won’t find them any other time of the year.

Everyone else is shopping for other stuff. With everyone busy with holiday festivities, you’ll have less competition for your dream home. Less competition means a better chance of actually getting your dream home. Also, sellers have fewer buyers to choose from, which could mean a better deal for you!

Tax breaks from the treasurer. Buying a home at the end of the year may offer tax advantages, and it could be beneficial to close on a new home prior to January 1st. Contact a tax professional for advice.

Sales on Interest Rates. Often interest rates are lower during the holidays, thanks to a decline in demand during this time. Securing a loan now might save you a lot of money down the road.

Quick Close Times. If you need to close fast, this could be a prime time to shop. Typically, both buyers and sellers involved in holiday home closings are motivated to complete the transaction quick in order to give themselves time to settle before the holidays and start of the New Year.

Home Shopping? Look Beyond the WOWs!

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When shopping for a new home, it’s easy to get caught up in what the home looks like and its special features. You can find yourself dazzled by the well-manicured backyard, trendy kitchen, or high ceilings and want to make an offer right then! But, slow down, take a step back and evaluate the less-exciting details, which are often overlooked but may lead to significant and costly issues later. Get beyond the WOWs and take a closer look at the following:

Windows: Do all of the windows open? Do they close and lock securely? Is the glass intact? Is there a tight thermal seal (which is important to regulate temperature)?

Flooring: Look for cracks, stains, holes, and warping. Ask if there’s another layer of flooring under carpet, tile, or laminate. Is the floor level? If not, it might be an indication of water, or worse, structural problems.

Basement: That beautifully finished basement could be hiding a ton of problems! Be sure to carefully examine corners and walls and look behind and under finishings for issues such as mold, leaks and critter infestations.

Roof: Roof replacements are costly. Find out when the roof was last installed, and if there has been any patch or a replacement. Look for signs of damage.

Neighborhood: Look beyond the obvious into the details: Is local traffic a nightmare in rush hour? Is there reliable transit nearby? Is the home near green space, schools, and recreational facilities? When you buy a home, you also buy the neighborhood!

Parking: If the house doesn’t have a garage, will the driveway accommodate your vehicles? Is there good on-street visitors’ parking? Are there any rules prohibiting parking on the street? Make sure to know where your cars are going to be kept and that there is enough room for them.

Even after you’ve checked the details, make your offer contingent on a home inspection. A reliable home inspector can dig deeper into the details. You may love the features of a home, but they won’t look so great if there other problems.