Pam Russell

Know Your Real Estate: 5 Researching Tips for Homebuyers


Posted on Mar 20 2017 - 11:47am by Housecall

woman and man at home typing on laptop computer

By Dixie Somers

Being a first time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there's so much to learn! The process doesn't get less challenging the second or third time around, but here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home buying experience.

Location, Location, Location

It's a cliché but it's true: location really is the most important part of the real estate equation. However, the right location isn't the same for everyone. Take your family's priorities into account and know where you would buy a home, and where you would not. Try to be flexible, but if you're longing for a place with a yard, then a balcony might not cut it, however a roof deck might! Always look for the exception to the rule. It's also a good idea to compare home prices around the home that you're considering. This will help you figure out if your house is a good deal and in line with the market expectations.

Find Your Financing

Finding the perfect house can take years, but once you find it things will move quickly. Most real estate markets are fast moving and a great house at a great price can easily go on the market in the morning and be under contract by the evening. When you find that house you have to be ready to jump on it. This means that you should have your financing figured out before you make an offer. Ask friends, family, any law or finance professionals your family uses, or ask your REALTOR® for a recommendation for a mortgage company. Be sure to get quotes from several different firms so you have a general idea of what your rates really should be.

Understand the Vocabulary

You should take the trouble to educate yourself about some of the jargon that comes with the real estate territory, otherwise, you might find yourself completely out of your league when discussing purchasing terms.

Check out the Neighborhood

If you're looking for homes outside of the neighborhood you live in, the best way to get a feel for it is to go and spend the day there. Find a few open houses you're interested in and go make a day of it. Have lunch, stroll the streets, check out the parks, schools, and find out what kind of people live there. These are the things that give a neighborhood its flavor, and things that you can't know until you go there and see for yourself.

Choose a Trustworthy Agent

A real estate agent can make or break your home buying experience. If you don't have an agent you already know and like, ask for recommendations, check local ratings sites and ask around. This can be a very personal relationship, so if you find an agent you believe in, hang on to them!

Buying a home is an exciting and stressful process, but with these tips, we hope you'll have a great experience researching, shopping and purchasing your next home.


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    Green Your Space: 5 Tips for a Healthy Home

    Some great ideas from RISMedia's housecall...

    Posted on Mar 6 2017 - 10:43am by Andrea Davis
    Healthy home

    Every homeowner wants a healthy home for his or her family and pets. Making the right choices in your house isn't always easy though. Keep reading to learn more about how you can create a healthy space and enjoy your home even more. These five tips should put you on the path.

    Update Your Insulation

    Individuals and families in older homes should consider the fact that they may have unhealthy types of insulation in the walls keeping them comfortable. If you're not sure about your insulation, have the pros check it out first. In the case of asbestos or any other hazardous material, you don't want to be digging around in the walls on your own.

    Asbestos and hazardous insulation remediation can be a big job, but for a homeowner, it should be a top priority in terms of a healthy home. Updating your insulation will also be a major plus when and if you go to sell your home.

    Get a Mold Check

    Most homeowners never think about mold until they get an inspection related to selling their home. For others, mold isn't even a consideration until damage to the home occurs and a mold issue more or less reveals itself. Getting a mold check for your home can help your family breathe easier in the house. While most recently built homes won't have mold, getting a check isn't going to hurt you.

    Pick the Right Paint

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint, wood stain and other varieties of coatings account for about nine percent of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the country every year. For a healthy home, look for low-VOC paint. They are water-based, low or no odor and non-toxic. While it can be hard to identify low-VOC paint on store shelves, online searches and on-can labeling should make it easy to find this type of paint if you're looking for it.

    Take Your Shoes Off

    Taking your shoes off every single time you come in your home might be a hard habit to get into, but for many people, it can lead to a healthier home environment. Your home might also require a little less cleaning, which is an added benefit. If you have a mudroom or a large entryway, removing your shoes should be easy. Tracking less outside germs from your shoes into your home can also help keep pets and children with a tendency to spend time on the floor healthier all year round.

    Add Plants to Your Décor

    Fresh, live plants can beautify almost any space. Live plants do more than just make your home look a little bit nicer though. Spider plants, lilies and aloe vera can help get rid of formaldehyde in the air, and English ivy, asparagus ferns and bamboo plants can work to clean indoor air as well. Whatever plant you choose, make sure they're not toxic to your pets if they roam free around your home.

    Making your home a healthier place isn't exactly as glamorous as buying new furniture or adding a room to your house. Don't take your home's health for granted and you won't have to worry as much about home-related hazards.


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      What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?


      Posted on Feb 24 2017 - 5:12pm by Housecall

      interest rates
      When you’re considering refinancing your home, it’s common to have a lot of questions. Unlike a first-time homebuyer, you’ve often gone through the mortgage process before and think you may know what to expect. But what options should you take into consideration before filling out a residential mortgage application? There is a wide range of options available for refinancing your home, and selecting the correct one often involves knowing what kind of financial situation you’re facing. Here are some basics to help get you started in the process.

      What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?

      The first question to ask is why are you looking at an online mortgage? Are you looking for a better deal than your current mortgage because your credit has improved since you were a first-time homebuyer? Are you filling out a residential mortgage application because you’re looking at a second home, perhaps to spend winters in a warmer climate? Are you considering adding investment property to your overall financial portfolio and an online mortgage is easier to administer than one with your local bank? Refinancing a home may be a confusing process, but knowing why you’re doing it and what the economic conditions are may help you make a smarter decision in the long run. Here are some common types of refinance options to consider when looking at a residential mortgage application:

      • Cash-Out Refinance: When you’re in a situation where you need extra cash at a lower interest rate than otherwise available for home improvement loans, college tuition or other necessary expense, a cash-out refinance loan may be a good option to consider. It will typically work best when you’ve built significant equity in your home, which you may then turn into cash, leveraging your home’s equity against the balance of the loan.
      • FHA Streamline: An FHA streamline mortgage is a fast and easy way to save money on your FHA mortgage loan. Depending on the terms of your current mortgage, you may be eligible to refinance with a minimum 5 percent reduction in your payment, with no appraisal, income or asset verification required.
      • VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): Did you get a VA mortgage loan to finance your home when the economy was better and the interest rates were higher? If you’ve served in our country’s military, whether you’re currently on active duty or a veteran, getting an IRRRL loan through the VA may enable you to enjoy the lower interest rates available in today’s economic market. With a lower interest rate, you may enjoy either a shorter repayment period or a lower monthly payment with a simple online mortgage application.
      • HARP 2.0 Program: Offered through the federal government, the Home Affordable Refinance Plan was developed when the housing bubble burst. Established in March 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it was intended to help homeowners, even first-time home buyers, who found themselves upside-down in their mortgages, owing more than their home was worth. If this describes the circumstances you find yourself in, a HARP refinance loan may be helpful if you’ve kept your mortgage payments current but have not been able to receive traditional refinancing due to the changed value of your home. However, if you’re potentially eligible for this program, be aware that it currently has an application deadline of September 30, 2017 with no guarantee of its extension.
      • Refinance to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage: If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage and you’re seeing the rates and your payment constantly changing, it may be very frustrating when you need to stick to a budget. When you need to count on a constant payment over a longer period of time, such as during retirement or while on a fixed income, a fixed-rate mortgage refinance may help provide that level of security. By refinancing into a fixed-rate mortgage refinance loan, you may be able to enjoy lower overall repayments and may not need to worry about changing payment amounts over the remaining life of the mortgage.

      Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer facing an online mortgage process to refinance a bad interest rate or are considering a residential mortgage application to fund investment property, refinancing is often a complex process. Knowing how the process works and what your options are may mean all the difference between negotiating a successful contract and being stuck in a bad deal for years to come. By educating yourself on the options you have available, you may be able to turn a tidy profit on investment property or enjoy that perfect vacation home you never thought you’d have the chance to own.


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        Renovate or Decorate? 3 Things To Consider Before Choosing

        RISMedia Posted on Mar 16 2017 - 11:02am by Housecall


        Photo: Pixabay

        By Brooke Chaplan

        If you are unhappy with the current look of your home, you may be thinking about redecorating to spruce the space up. For most, redecorating includes repainting the wall, refreshing the home décor and even purchasing new curtains or furnishings. However, in some cases, redecorating is not enough to produce the desired results. The last thing you want to do is spend hundreds or thousands of dollars redecorating only to still be unhappy with the look of the home. Renovating may be in order, but you should carefully consider these two options to determine the right move to make.

        Your Budget

        Your budget will be a critical deciding factor in whether you should renovate or remodel. Renovating a room may involve replacing the flooring, adding new molding, replacing the windows or window features, adding new lighting and more. After the renovation has been completed, many will also redecorate the space with new furnishings, paint and more. You should carefully review your budget to determine if you can afford a significant renovation project or if a remodeling project is more suitable for your financial situation. After all is said and done, you may find that getting some good furnishings from companies like The Century House can provide a satisfying change at less cost to you.


        The Functional Use of the Space

        It is also important to consider the functional use of the space. With a renovation project, you may be able to knock down walls to adjust the shape and size of the room. You may be able to add a storage closet, built-in shelves or other features. These are just a few of the ways that a renovation can improve your functional use of the space. On the other hand, if you are happy with how the room meets your family’s needs for space, storage and more, you may not need to make any physical changes to the space.

        The Significance of the Desired Results

        A renovation project often takes several weeks or longer to complete, and it can provide much more significant results. Generally, it can change the style of the room and make it look more current. It also can improve the use of the space with great results. You should consider how in-depth and significant you want the results to be to determine if this is the right move to make.

        It is common for homeowners to be unhappy with one or more rooms of the home. In some cases, a minor redecorating project will produce incredible, desirable results. In other cases, more significant and costly effort is needed to fully transform the space. Take time to consider your needs and desires for the space as well as your budget before deciding how to proceed.


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          High-Resale Value Projects You Can Tackle In A Weekend

          From RIS Media's housecall...for the Do It Yourselfer...

          Posted on Mar 1 2017 - 3:58pm by Megan Wild


          “There’s no place like home,” as the old saying goes. That’s especially true when it comes to an investment.

          You live in and love your home, but there might come a time when you have to leave it. And when that time comes, you’ll want to get as much money as you can for your property so you can move onward — and upward.

          In order to increase your abode’s value, you might think you have to put in a ton of time, effort and money, but that’s not entirely true. Instead, you can take on weekend projects over time to spruce the place up so when it’s time to sell, you have a completely updated property that’ll end up selling itself.

          Ready to get to work? Roll up your sleeves and start on one of the following five weekend projects.

          1. Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets

          When it comes to smart investment in your home, the kitchen is one of the best places to start. Buyers expect kitchens to be updated. Stone countertops, stainless appliances and sleek flooring all make a space feel modern. Obviously, these changes require a lot of money and, sometimes, a lot of time. That’s why you can tackle it in bits and start first with your cabinets.

          Old wooden cabinets with equally dated hardware — think oak doors with shiny brass handles — don’t require a complete gut job. Instead, spend a weekend repainting them a more neutral hue. Finish the project off with new metallic knobs and pulls to complete the modernized look.

          2. Make the Eye Go up With Crown Molding

          Most homes have roughly the same ceiling heights, but there’s a little trick to make yours look bigger — crown molding. Yes, that white line at the top of your painted walls will draw eyes upward, making the room appear airier than it may very well be.

          The project is easy enough to complete, too. You might not be able to install molding throughout your entire home over a single weekend, but you can certainly tackle the project on a room-by-room basis. Again, start with the spaces likely to draw in the most moolah:

          • Kitchens
          • Bathrooms
          • Living spaces
          • Master bedrooms

          These tend to be the make-or-break rooms when it comes to a big purchase. Crown molding adds a bit of detail, a feeling of luxury that’ll certainly add to the bottom line.

          3. Boost Curb Appeal — and Backyard Bonuses

          No one will come in your home unless the first impression is stunning. Another DIY project should be a landscape overhaul of your front yard. It can be something as simple as adding a path of pavers to your front yard or sprucing up your flowerbeds with colorful blooms. All of this will catch the eye of potential buyers — and fatten up the bottom line of the offers they make.

          Another easy fix — your garage door. If it’s street-facing, it’s another area for prospective buyers to look at, and it has a great return on investment.

          You don’t have to stop with the front of your home. Especially if you live in a climate that permits lots of outdoor activity, you’ll want a backyard to match. Some may require you rent or buy tools for landscaping and other applications, but imagine the payoff with, for example, the beauty of a functioning fire pit in your backyard. Not only will you be able to enjoy it while you’re still living in your home, but potential buyers will easily be able to envision themselves sitting around a fire.

          4. Beautify the Bathrooms

          Bathrooms have a big effect on buyers. They expect clean, modern updates, just like in the kitchen. Overhauling your powder room is an easy weekend task that might require small swaps, such as a new modern light fixture over the vanity or a new vanity altogether.

          Your full bathrooms will require a bit more attention if you want them to be up to snuff. Again, look in the familiar places:

          • Lighting fixtures
          • Cabinets
          • Hardware
          • Countertops
          • Tile

          You don’t have to shell out a ton of money to have someone else re-tile a wall or backsplash in your bathroom, either, if you have the patience to demo and tile the space yourself.

          5. Out With the Really Old

          Some accents once considered fresh and fashionable now give your home a dated appearance. You probably already know what in your home screams 70s, 80s or 90s. Whatever it is should go in due course.

          The list of outdated design elements is truly endless, but some of the biggest offenders are old-school wallpaper, the floor-to-ceiling wood paneling that may or not be actual wood, and, of course, popcorn ceilings. By removing these three offenders alone — a popcorn ceiling doesn’t take much effort — your home will snap right back into 2017.

          Once people start envisioning themselves living in your home, you won’t have to envision offers pouring in — they’ll start coming thanks to your hard work. You go, weekend warrior.


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            Rejuvenate Your Window Design With These Latest Trends

            Looking to update your window treatments?


            Posted on Feb 24 2017 - 4:26pm by Housecall

            By Katie Laird

            window design

            Window treatments provide both form and function in your home—they can be a stylish statement, while also performing important tasks. Learn about the latest trends and functionality of popular window treatments to make a choice that works best in your home.

            The Improved Functionality of Today’s Window Treatments

            Whether you choose curtains, blinds or shades, each option provides more than just a fashion statement.

            • Control Sunlight in Your Home: Window treatments, especially shades and blinds, provide you with sunlight control, making it easy to brighten or darken your living space. With blackout shades and curtains, you can achieve complete darkness in a room, making it conducive to a good night’s sleep. With solar shades, you can keep out UV rays while still keeping your view.
            • Increase Your Home's Privacy: A variety of window treatment options prevent others from looking inside your house. Today’s styles can even allow sunlight in, while still maintaining privacy.
            • Protect Your Furniture and Household Accessories: Window treatments enable you to protect your furniture and household accessories against UV rays that otherwise may cause fading or cracking over time.
            • Save Money on Your Energy Bills: The Department of Energy (DOE) notes awnings, blinds and other window treatments can help you reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, allowing you to cut your annual energy expenses.
            • Show Off Your Personality: Want to reinvent your home's décor? Window treatments are available in a variety of colors and designs, ensuring that you can bolster your home's décor and show off your personal style.

            Today’s Most Popular Window Style Options

            Gone are the days of only choosing between plain roller shades and ornate drapes. Now there is everything in between, so you can go with an option that matches your home’s décor.

            • Faux Wood Blinds: Faux wood blinds replicate the appearance of wood perfectly and are available in a variety of finishes and styles. They are available at a fraction of the cost of their wood counterparts and offer superior moisture resistance for long-lasting durability.

            Unlike traditional wood blinds, faux wood varieties consist of a synthetic material that is easy to clean. That way, you won't have to worry about allocating significant time and resources to keep faux wood blinds looking great.

            • Patterned Drapes and Shades: Window treatments that feature stripes and bold prints have become exceedingly popular over the past few years, and it is easy to understand why. As homeowners search for ways to reinvent their living spaces, patterned shades and curtains allow property owners to go bold with their décor without having to worry about breaking their budgets.
            • Silk Panels: For those who appreciate the finer things in life, there may be no better option than silk panels.

            While silk panels may prove to be more expensive than many other window treatments, they can bring a touch of luxury and sophistication to a setting's décor instantly. Options abound with silk panels that consist of embroidered silks, plaid silks and jacquard paisley designs represent timeless choices for homeowners who want to create an elegant living space. When combined with shades or blinds, panels can provide style as well as privacy.

            • Environmentally-Friendly Window Treatments: Did you know that some window treatments can help you fight off allergies? Environmentally-friendly window treatments that consist of mildew-, mold- and stain-resistant fabrics are gaining popularity among allergy sufferers nationwide. Allergy sufferers can reap the benefits of "green" window treatments without having to sacrifice their personal style.

            Environmentally-conscious homeowners also can choose shades and curtains that feature non-toxic dyes and fabrics.

            • Honeycomb Shades: Honeycomb shades consistently rank among the top window treatment options for homeowners. These shades deliver superb insulation and noise reduction, along with light-blocking and light-filtering capabilities. Plus, top-down and bottom-up honeycomb shades are available for supreme light and privacy management.

            Honeycomb shades come in numerous pleat sizes and can be paired with drapes to maximize style and privacy.

            Today’s options can fit into any style and budget. Maximize style, efficiency and privacy with a combination of today’s most popular window treatments.

            Katie Laird is the Director of Social Marketing for and a frequent public speaker on Social Media Marketing, Social Customer Care and profitable company culture. An active blogger and early social technology adopter, you can find her online as ‘happykatie’ sharing home décor, yoga, parenting and vegetarian cooking tips. To learn more about the variety of faux wood blinds and other window treatments like those highlighted in this article, visit the website.


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              Popular Curb Appeal Trends for 2017: New Ideas for First Impressions

              From RIS Media's housecall...

              Posted on Feb 15 2017 - 1:20pm by Megan Wild

              curb appealNever underestimate the importance of a pretty face…on your home or a client’s home. A curbside “facelift” is money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own pleasure.

              These new ideas and trends should get your creative juices flowing.

              Re-Think the Front Door

              REALTORS® have long advised that the front door—one of the first things a visitor touches—should look well-kept and attractive. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. No longer feel bound to match your door to the window and shutter hue. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brighter colors.

              For just a few more dollars, replace old, corroded hardware—knobs, kickplate, etc. For a professional look, and to save yourself some time and clean-up, install the new hardware after painting.

              Replacing the entire door might cost you or your client $500 or more, but if you are bored or unhappy with your plain door or if the door will affect the value of the home, peruse the latest new styles.

              If you really want a big change, consider adding an arched doorway, windows on either side or expanding to a double-door. Ironically, one new trend is to go old and ornate.

              Light the Way

              Some home-building companies scrimp on the porch or entrance-way lighting. If you or your client weren’t involved in the original lighting decisions—or even if you were—over time, glass fixtures become dim from dirt, dead moths or old bulbs.

              Cleaning globes and replacing bulbs instantly brings new life to your evening facade. New fixtures are inexpensive and can usually be owner-installed. You will likely be delighted—no pun intended—to discover that advanced lighting technology has gone beyond florescent with the introduction of LED bulbs. LEDs provide more lumens with less power, resulting in brighter entryways while saving on electricity.

              The options are nearly limitless for affordable and novel ways to illuminate your home’s front porch or portico.

              Install Stone Veneer

              For many homes, a major transformation from common, run-of-the-mill appearance to a luxury look is achieved with stone veneer. No doubt about it: stone veneer is an up-and-coming trend for home upgrades. Once installed, stone veneer is nearly indistinguishable from full stonework. The key difference is cost and ease of installation.

              Stonework speaks to craftsmanship, and veneer gives your home this expensive look for less. Stone veneer also has advantages beyond cosmetic:

              • It’s rugged and never needs painting.
              • It comes in a wide variety of textures and colors.
              • You can use it for an entire house, a single wall or just the skirting.

              You will be pleasantly surprised at how it sets your home apart from others on your street while increasing its value and marketability.


              Refinish Sidewalks and Driveways

              Just as the upscale look of stone upgrades exterior walls, stone or brick makes a huge improvement to unsightly cracked concrete walks and drives. Different types and shapes of stone can create a variety of patterns, and hiring a professional installer on a complete tear and replace will save time and your back.

              If your property’s asphalt or concrete drive is in good condition, bordering it with brick pavers can add a touch of class. Trims can be a do-it-yourself project requiring minimal skill, effort and cost.

              Add Color to Landscaping

              You’ll want the lawn and hedges manicured. Go further. Green is great, but dots of color lift your yard to a higher level of beauty.

              Over the last decade, most cities have upgraded cosmetics, realizing that public street-corners beg for flowers and professional landscaping. Eyes have come to expect more color and design street-side—and in desirable neighborhoods, and that expectation translates over to the look of your curb.

              Again, a tiny expenditure equals a major step up. Bulbs, shrubs, borders, fencing and mulch are all things to consider.

              Check Your Mailbox

              In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore.

              Sure, you can spend a pile for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox. But a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price. At the least, meet a local artist who would enjoy crafting something special for you. If you prefer to do it yourself, concrete footing, a post, wood trim, paint and of course, your mailbox, will go far.

              On a street where all the mailboxes look the same — and where the houses also may be cookie-cutter—you can set yours apart. That’s the point of all these improvements. Give your house its own attractive identity—and for less than you might expect.







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                What to Expect When Selling a Home in Winter


                Posted on Feb 14 2017 - 12:38pm by Housecall

                By Cary Teller


                While homeowners traditionally wait for spring to list their home—the peak home-shopping season—there are many good reasons to sell in the winter. Buyers shopping in winter usually have more urgency to buy quickly and a recent study even found that sellers net more on average above listing price in winter than spring, even in areas with very cold weather.

                Selling a home in winter can be a bit of a different ball game, though. You can improve your chances of selling quickly and for maximum dollar by knowing what to expect and planning your sale.

                Curb Appeal is a Must

                Drab weather and gray skies make it more important than ever to make your home eye-catching. First impressions count, so help your home stand out from the gloomy environment with simple landscaping and colorful cold weather plants on the front porch. Be sure to address any signs of deferred maintenance by caulking the windows and repairing any damaged window seals which cause condensation.

                Traffic Will Be Lower

                Expect foot traffic to be lower than you may expect during the winter. You will most likely have fewer showings and less traffic at the open house, so it's more important than ever to make a good first impression. The good news is the buyers who are out and looking for a home in the winter tend to be much more serious and motivated to buy than spring shoppers.

                Set the Mood

                As buyers walk into the home, they should immediately have a sense of warmth. You can stage your home carefully with seasonal touches like stacked wood at the fireplace, throw blankets, and cinnamon pine cones, but stay away from decorating for a specific religion, like with a Christmas tree, for example.

                You'll also want to keep your home warm. A good tip if you have a loud HVAC system is cranking up the thermostat a bit higher than normal, then setting the temperature back to the regular setting before you leave. This way, the HVAC system won't kick on while the buyer is present.

                Focus on Heating and Energy Costs

                Winter home buyers pay extra attention to issues related to home maintenance and heating. Make sure your roof, HVAC system, and furnace are inspected and take care of any maintenance issues like replacing your furnace air filters and cleaning out the fireplace.

                Keep in mind many winter buyers also consider heating costs when buying a home, especially if you live in a cold weather area. This may be the ideal time to look into cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient windows and new insulation to cut your utility bills.

                Stay on Top of Snow Removal

                A unique challenge for home sellers during the winter is dealing with the snow and ice. It's vital that buyers have a clear and safe path into your home, but you also need a plan to keep visitors from tracking a mess throughout the house. Stay on top of snow by shoveling the walkways often and sprinkling the path with sidewalk salt or sand for traction. When it's wet outside, add a rubber mat near the front door for shoes.

                Use Spring Photos

                Marketing photos for your home should be done before the trees lose their leaves and the temperature drops for the best effect. This way, buyers can see what your home will look like in other seasons when the landscaping is green and beautiful. Photos of barren, snow-covered ground and bare trees simply aren't as compelling.

                Bring in More Light

                During the winter, days get shorter and the sun sets earlier. This can make it challenging to show the home to potential buyers if the home is too dark to really see. It's a good idea to install landscape lighting outside if you don't have any and bring in additional lighting in rooms that seem dim.

                While selling in winter may require tweaking your strategy a bit, it can help you attract more serious buyers and even net you more from the sale of your home as long as you know what to expect.


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                  Where the Cost of Your Home Inspection Really Goes

                  Ever wondered why you need a home inspection?  This article from RIS Media might help.

                  Posted on Jan 18 2017 - 10:45am by Housecall
                  Where the Cost of Your Home Inspection Really Goes

                  By Brooke Chaplan

                  Home inspections are most commonly ordered by home buyers before closing on a home, and can also be used by current homeowners who want to learn more about the condition of the property they live in. These home inspection reports are often a dozen pages or more in length, and they contain very detailed information about components that range from the plumbing and electrical system of the home to the foundation, roof and more. However, depending on your location and the size of the home, a property inspection may cost several hundred dollars or more. With closer examination of where this money goes, you will see that this is a fee well worth paying for.

                  The Tools and Equipment an Inspector Uses

                  Because a property inspector will walk through every room of the home--most will even examine the roof, basement and foundation—a wide range of tools and equipment are needed to complete the task at hand. Common equipment used by all inspectors are flashlights, ladders and screwdrivers. Many will also use electrical testers on each outlet in the home, a thermometer to test the heat level in an oven, moisture testing equipment to look for signs of water leaks and more. If your property inspector conducts additional tests, a mold test kit, an asbestos test kit, a radon test kit and other certified material testing products may also be required.

                  The Time and Experience Required

                  Each state has different licensing and certification requirements. Some states require a license renewal with continuing education every year or two. The property inspector must pay to maintain and improve his or her level of education as well as to remain licensed and insured to complete the task that you have asked him or her to do. In addition, there is value in an inspector’s time.

                  Depending on the size of the home, a typical property inspection may take two to four hours or more to complete. The price you pay for a home inspection will directly relate to how much time he or she spends at the property as well as the types of special services he or she provides.

                  Through a home inspection, you can learn about issues that range from mold growth in the home and a cracked foundation to broken support beams in the attic, wiring issues in the walls and even pest infestation. These and other things that are noted in the report can help home buyers make a more informed decision about which property to buy. They can also be used to help current homeowners take steps to improve the condition of their home. With how beneficial a property inspection report is, you can see that the fee for an inspection report is well worthwhile.


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                    Sales in the Snow: 5 Home Staging Tips for Wintertime

                    Another timely article by RISMedia...Posted on Dec 21 2016 - 11:41am by Housecall

                    Sales in the Snow - 5 Home Staging Tips for Wintertime

                    By Dixie Somers

                    While winter isn't traditionally considered the best time to sell your home, there's no reason you can't get an offer during the colder months with the right staging. In fact, a study found that homes sold faster and for more money in the winter months, even in cold cities like Chicago. Here are five winter home staging tips that can increase your appeal to potential buyers.

                    1. Clear the Walkways

                    Whether you live in an area with heavy snow all winter or you've had a big storm on a day with several showings scheduled, all areas of the yard should be accessible for buyers. That means not only making sure there's a safe, snow-free path to the front door, but also that paths are cleared to any outdoor areas the buyer will want to view. This means sheds, patios, garages and recreation areas. And while entries can get grimy if your family is in and out with their boots on, this area should be kept spotless and clear of debris.

                    2. Let There Be Light

                    Although our instinct in winter is to hunker down indoors, put your home in its best light by opening all shades and draperies, as well as turning on all available light sources (including closet lights). The exception? Turn off televisions and computers, which don't necessarily add to the warm glow you're trying to achieve.

                    3. Keep It Toasty

                    Speaking of a warm glow, your home should project a feeling of warmth to potential buyers when it's cold outside. If you have a fireplace that's in good condition, that's a great place to start. Try setting your thermostat a degree or two higher than usual to give buyers a reason to linger instead of heading back out into the weather. Ask a real estate company whether homebuyers in your area would respond well to layers of soft throws, rugs, pillows and other richly textured fabrics.

                    4. Embrace the Holidays

                    While REALTORS® usually advise to pack away personal belongings when staging a home to create a clean canvas for buyers, tasteful holiday decorations can help create the warm, family feel you're trying to achieve. Think lush wreaths, a tree with inviting white lights, and candles in the windows for subtle yet powerful emotional appeal.

                    5. Don't Ignore the Outdoors

                    Although your landscaping won't look as gorgeous as it does in the spring, pots of evergreens can help add some color to your walkways and yard. Always make sure that gutters are cleaned and shrubs are trimmed, too.


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