Is A Fixer-Upper Right For Me?

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You’ve seen all the headlines: DIY special. Needs some TLC. Handyman Special. These homes are often far from turn key but can offer good opportunity for the right person. Fixer-uppers can be great homes and profitable investments, but are they the right choice for you? To help you decide, consider three important factors.

Your plans. If you’re hoping to get a good deal on real estate and flip it for a profit, this can be a good option. Another great option is buying a fixer-upper and doing the repairs yourself in order to transform the house into your dream home. On the other hand, if you have watched a lot of real estate shows and expect to spend a couple of weekends working on the home and then make big bucks, you’re probably on the wrong path. Keep in mind that renovations are often costly, time-consuming, and far more complicated than they look on television.

Your budget. Consider whether you can realistically afford the renovations. How much would it take to make the home liveable? Would basic cosmetic changes be enough, or do you need a budget for more extensive repairs? If major construction is required, you may qualify for a home improvement loan program. If you’d like more information about current loan programs, I can review what is available and connect you with a lender to check your eligibility.

Your time. Examine your calendar. First, consider if you will have a place to live while renovations are completed. If you’re selling your current home and need to move out by a certain date, you’ll need to make plans for temporary housing. You must also consider the time required to manage this type of project. You’ll need to hire and coordinate contractors, or, if you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll need to budget significant time for your labor.

Think a fixer-upper might be right for you? I can help you find deals in the area. Just give me a call.

What Does Move-In Ready Really Mean?

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When home buying, a term you may often see is move-in ready, but what does it really mean? At a minimum, a home termed move-in ready should be livable without any repairs. A potential home buyer should not have a to-do list before they move in. However, some home buyers incorrectly assume that move-in ready means updated or new, when in reality, the term can be used to describe a property in almost any condition, from extremely dated to completely renovated. What can you expect from a move-in ready home? Take a look.

Electrical and plumbing.
In a move-in ready home, all of the electrical work needs to be up-to-date, including modern outlets and switches. The plumbing should also be in good condition with working fixtures and faucets and no leaks.

Roof, windows and siding.
The roof should be in good condition and have plenty of life left in it. An old roof may not be leaking today but could at any time, and that would not deem it move-in ready. Also, siding and windows should be in good shape with nothing warped, damaged or rotting.

Heating and cooling systems.
A home is not move-in ready if the water heater, furnace and HVAC system will need replacing in a few years. These systems should be in proper working condition, and life the roof, have a substantial life span remaining.

Although new appliances and marble countertops are nice, they are not requirements for move-in ready, but functionality is. Working appliances and functioning faucets, lighting and outlets are what are important here. Although cosmetic enhancements might turn a potential buyer off, they do not prevent someone from moving in.

Bathrooms must be clean with working plumbing and unclogged drains to be termed move-in ready. Things such as low water pressure or a toilet that doesn’t flush properly would not be acceptable.

As long as floors are clean and free or warping or buckling, they are found move-in ready. Carpeting should be clean and free of dirt or damage.

Walls do not need to be freshly painted but do need to be free from scuffs and chips. Ideally, paint color should be neutral, but a hot pink wall will not prevent a buyer from moving in.

Remember, if the wallpaper gives you nightmares, it doesn’t mean the home isn’t move-in ready. Unless you are building a custom home, rarely will a home come exactly as you want it. Move-in ready simply means exactly what it says…it can be moved in to; it does not mean the home is perfectly decorated to suit your tastes with hardwoods, fresh paint and major upgrades. Be realistic when you see the term and if you have additional questions, give me a call!

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Buy A House

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Whether you are thinking about buying a house, or already out there actively looking, there are 3 all-important questions to ask yourself before you make the move.

What are my “musts”? These must-haves should be your top-priorities. They include things like a certain number of bedrooms, a specific school district or even something like a pool. These are items that are not up for negotation, and homes that do not meet this criteria should easily be scratched off the list. To maximize options, limit your “must” list to things that can’t easily be changed after purchase; for example, you can’t change a home’s location but you can easily change its flooring.

How long do I plan to stay? Consider various life factors that might come into play – things such as a growing family or job relocation. The answer to this question will help you determine if it’s a good time to buy, and if so, what size home you may need.

How’s my credit? If you are planning to take out a mortgage, you credit score is a crucial factor in determining what kind of rate you might receive and also how much money a lender will be willing to lend you. You can get a free copy of your credit report annually from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Look over these reports carefully to make sure everything is correct. This is also will help you in deciding if you need to build your credit before buying. If you have additional questions on building your credit, see my previous article on easy credit building or give me a call!

Moving? Marie Kondo It!

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Almost everyone has heard of Marie Kondo, right? She is a organizing sensation that has created a method to simplify and organize your home by getting rid of items that “do not bring joy into your life”. What better time to use this method than when moving! If you want to incorporate her method into your move, here’s some tips to help you KonMari it.

Give yourself plenty of time. There is one downside to using this method to moving. It isn’t a project you can complete in an afternoon. To do it right, it will take time.

Move from easiest to hardest. The KonMari method is all about order. Start with the items that are easiest to part with and move up to harder items. Think clothing, shoes and books and work your way up to items that hold more personal meaning – documents, miscellaneous objects in drawers and on shelves, and personal mementos for last. At each stage, pick up items and ask yourself if they bring you joy. If they don’t toss or donate it; if it does, it comes to your new home. Of course, there will be personal items, like a toothbrush or medical records, that do not make you gleeful but are necessary. This method does not apply to those items of necessity.

Don’t let sentimentality get in the way. The Marie Kondo method requires complete honesty and urges you to get rid of possessions you’re keeping out of guilt. Think about the purpose an item serves and see if you can repurpose ones that have been stuffed in the back of your drawers. If not, get rid of it.

Pack it up. Get the whole family on board with de-cluttering by encouraging your kids to choose an organization where they’d like to donate what they’re discarding. Encourage them to put at least one item per day in a donation box and to reflect on how it will help somebody else. Once you’ve narrowed your belongings down to daily essentials or those that bring you joy, get packing. The good news? It will take less time to unload and unpack later, and your new, uncluttered home will bring you much greater joy.

12 Days of Home Selling Tips

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On the first day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me:
“Consider your curb appeal.”

Curb appeal is all-important when it comes to selling your home. If a potential buyer does not like the way your home looks on the outside, they will not want to see the inside. First impressions are lasting impressions. Remove outdoor clutter such as toys and trash cans; freshen up the entry way with new paint, seasonal flowers or plants, and a good scrubbing; add living space such as a porch swing, dining area or some new lighting; and mow, trim & weed to keep your yard looking clean and tidy.

On the second day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me:
“Declutter & detach.”

A cluttered home gives the feeling that it is not well-maintained, dirty and lacking storage, whereas an uncluttered home looks spacious with plenty of storage and clean! Too much stuff makes it difficult for potential home buyers to see past the clutter to the home and its best features. Less clutter also means less to move, a win-win. It is also important to detach yourself from your home. We get it – you have a lot of memories in your home, but it is important to detach and be emotionally ready to sell so expectations are realistic as to what you can receive for the home.

On the third day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Clean everything!”
Cleaning everything both inside and out will help your home shine bright to potential buyers. A clean home looks like a well-cared for home. Cleaning should be from top to bottom and inside and out. Wash windows, pressure wash re-caulk tubs and showers, dust, and polish all chrome faucets and mirrors. Also, hang up fresh towels and get rid of smells that might be off-putting to home buyers. A thorough cleaning will make your home more appealing. If it proves to be too much, consider hiring a cleaning crew to come in and do it for you. A clean house is a must when selling!

On the fourth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Repaint your walls.”

Painting your home instantly updates it and makes it feel fresh and clean for home buyers. A fresh coat of paint also presents a clean slate to potential home buyers and enables them to better see themselves in your home. In addition to adding appeal, it is also one of the least expensive ways to add value to your home, but don’t forget to keep paint colors neutral! Again, you want your house to appeal to the most potential buyers possible.

On the fifth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Do any minor repairs.”

Again, the goal of home selling is to get the maximum amount of money as possible for your home. This may include making minor repairs to help portray your home in the best possible light. Minor repairs may include things like fixing leaky faucets, patching any holes or cracks to the walls, replacing missing fence boards or updating the lighting. Your REALTOR® can help you with the decision on what things need doing and what things don’t. Minor repairs can mean major bucks when it comes to selling your home.

On the sixth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Depersonalize your home.”

Most people fall in love with their home, making them an extension of their style and personality. One of the most important elements of success when it comes to home selling is getting potential buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Depersonalization involves eliminating your tastes and neutralizing the space by removing family photos, neutralizing color palettes, putting away artwork and magnets, and removing any personal effects like razors and deodorant. The goal is to get other people to see themselves in your home, not you in your home.

On the seventh day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Let the light shine in.”

A lighter room is a brighter room. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades and increase the wattage of your light bulbs. Do whatever you can to make your house bright and cheery; it will make it easier to sell.

On the eighth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Make your home available.”

If someone wants to view your house, you need to be accommodating, even if it’s inconvenient for you because after all, someone needs to see your house to want to buy it. And don’t forget, always leave your home during a viewing. Hanging around during a showing makes you look desperate to sell, increases the risk you’ll say something you shouldn’t, and makes home shoppers extremely uncomfortable.

On the ninth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Remove any signs of pets.”

We get it, you love your pet; but not everyone is an animal lover. Hide evidence of pets and send them to a friend’s place if possible during showings. One whiff of a dirty litter box or a view of pet waste in the yard could ruin a showing. Also, some potential buyers are afraid of animals or allergic to animals, and some pets can be unpredictable around strangers. Why turn off a potential buyer from the get-go? Other ways to help: put away water and food bowls, vacuum, pick up and put away pet toys, remove photos of pets, and put away the crates and carriers.

On the tenth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Organize closets and cabinets.”

Buyers will be curious as to how much storage space there is and will open closets and cabinets to get a closer look. It is important to ensure these are organized and partially empty to give off the impression that you take care of your possessions (and are likely to take care of your home) and that there is plenty of space!

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Take good photos.”

Ever hear the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Nothing could be more true in real estate. Many homebuyers search for homes online these days, and good photos will help set your listing apart and generate added interest in your listing. Good photos should be crisp and clear, taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light and should showcase your home’s best assets. Consider hiring a professional to get quality results and add a video tour to further enhance your listing.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My REALTOR® Angela said to me
“Price your house to sell.”

Overpricing will lead to loss of interest and less demand for your home and no offers. You can always drop the price later, but by then, it might be too little too late. Talk with your REALTOR® about the worth of your home. Ask about comparable homes in the area and price it to sell in the current market. Be realistic about what you can actually get for your home. Selling a home is all about supply and demand, and you must pick the best price based on how much your home is actually worth, not how much you think it’s worth.

5 Holiday Baking Recipes With Minimal Ingredients!

Buck Eyes
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2C peanut butter
2 sticks margarine
1C chopped nuts
1 6 oz package of chocolate chips

Directions: Mix all ingredients except for chocolate chips together and form into little balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Melt chocolate chips on low, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and dip balls into chocolate. Put on wax paper until hardened.

Mama’s Fudge

12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet pieces
3 (4 oz) pkg. sweet cooking chocolate (bars)
1 (8 oz) jar marshmallow creme
2C broken nuts
4 1/2C sugar
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 13 oz. can evaporated milk
Pinch of salt

Directions: Combine semi-sweet chocolate pieces, cooking chocolate (broken into pieces), marshmallow creme, and nuts in a large bowl. Combine sugar, salt, butter, and milk in heavy saucepan and heat to boiling for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour at once over chocolate mixture in bowl. Stir vigorously until chocolate is melted and mixture creamy. Pour into a shallow 9X13X2 inch pan. Let stand a few hours, then cut into pieces. Store tightly in a covered container.

Pecan Sandies

2C butter
1C confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp water
4 tsp vanilla extract
4C flour
2C chopped pecans
addtl confectioners’ sugar

Directions: Cream butter & sugar, add water & vanilla. Gradually add in flour, fold in pecans. Roll into 1″ balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet & flatten w/fingers. Bake 20-25 min at 300°, cool & dust w/confectioners sugar.

Christmas Chex Party Mix

6 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal
2 cups miniature marshmallows (from 10.5-oz bag)
1 cup mini pretzel twists (from 16-oz bag)
15 oz vanilla candy coating (almond bark) (about 9 cubes from 20-oz package)
3 tablespoons holiday-colored sprinkles or nonpareils
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup holiday-colored candy-coated chocolate candies

Directions: Line large rimmed cookie sheet with waxed paper. In large bowl, mix cereal, marshmallows and pretzels. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave candy coating uncovered on High 60 to 90 seconds, stirring after 1 minute, until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Pour onto cereal mixture; mix well. Spread on cookie sheet; sprinkle with holiday sprinkles, and cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces. In 2-gallon re-sealable food-storage plastic bag, add coated cereal pieces and powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake to coat. Remove from bag; discard any remaining powdered sugar.
In large serving bowl, mix coated cereal mixture and chocolate candies.

Sausage Balls

1 pound ground pork sausage
2C biscuit baking mix
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine sausage, biscuit baking mix and cheese. Form into walnut size balls and place on baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and sausage is cooked through.

Family-Fun Indoor Activities Around Columbia to Help Beat the Winter Blues

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Living near Lake Murray, there is never a shortage of outdoor fun, but as the cooler weather rolls in, it’s nice to spend some time together indoors. Here are my top picks for indoor winter fun this season.

The Grand

Located on Main Street in downtown Columbia, this indoor boutique bowling alley offers classic games, a restaurant and bar, and of course, bowling! Beginning on December 21st, The Grand is also starting Fun for the Holidays, adventure and excitement for the kids during holiday break with games, golf lessons, bowling and art. The Grand also offers daily food specials, happy hour, heroes night and service industry night. With so much going on, The Grand is your winter destination for FUN!

Nickelodeon Theatre

Bring the family to the old-fashioned, art house movie theatre offering a more intimate experience with better prices. There are two small theatres, and patrons can indulge in a glass of wine or soft drink, popcorn and candy while taking in movies such as A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood or Honey Boy. See a full list of movies and show times here.


The largest children’s museum in the Southeast with hands-on exhibits and Eddie, a 40-foot educational jungle gym, EdVenture is sure to delight and excite all of your little ones! Through December 22nd, the museum offering a special treat where kids can see Santa in action coming down a chimney LIVE, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and enjoy sock-skating in Sockafeller Center. In January, there’s no place like Edventure when Snowville returns for indoor fun with snow-tubing, sock hockey, snowy experiments and more!

Plex HiWire Irmo

“Jump into the holidays” at Plex in Irmo with HiWire Trampoline Park with a Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course, ice skating,  game arcade and an inflatable play area for children under 12. Hours of indoor fun sure to help warm up the cold winter days!

South Carolina State Museum

Explore four floors of fascinating exhibits on the state’s history, art, natural history, science and technology, traverse the universe in the digital dome planetarium, have a unique 4D movie experience and more at South Carolina State Museum at 301 Gervais Street in Columbia.  There are also some seasonal upcoming events sure to please with Santa Days, Polar Express Party, Winter Break Camps, Winter Fest and the Enchanted Tea Party. See the museum’s site for additional details.