Home Maintenance to Prep for Winter

Winter is fast approaching, and if you’re a homeowner, that usually means now’s the time to tackle key maintenance tasks — at least if you want to ensure a warm and comfortable season.

There are appliances to check, inspections to complete and exterior tasks to do. 

Are you ready for the incoming colder months? Want to make sure your home is too? Here are five steps to take ahead of the winter months. 

  • Weatherproof your doors and windows. Cracks and gaps can let in cold air. Reseal old caulking and fill in any holes, splits or openings you find.
  • Get a roof inspection. Replace any damaged or missing shingles. Also make sure your roof is protected from leaks that could result in moisture- or mold-related problems.
  • Tend to your yard. Heavy storms can weigh down branches, causing them to fall on your roof or car. Check that all trees and foliage are cared for and well-trimmed.
  • Insulate your attic, pipes and walls. Better insulation can mean lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. Take some time to evaluate yours, and consider adding extra if needed. 
  • Check the water heater. Make sure your water heater is operating effectively and efficiently. You might also want to flush the system to remove any sediment that may be at the bottom of the tank.

Completing this essential winter maintenance can set your family up for a cozy, relaxing season at home. It’ll also help you identify any potential issues before they have a chance to turn into costly repairs. To learn more home upkeep tips, reach out today.

5 Myths About Selling a Home Right Now

Are you curious about the state of the housing market? Like many homeowners, especially potential sellers, you may be hesitant to make a move because there’s a lot of uncertainty and speculation these days. 

But you don’t want to let false assumptions keep you from reaching your goals, now or in the future. 

Let’s clear up some common myths about what’s happening in real estate right now and what we’re likely to expect going forward.

  • Myth: Buyers are waiting to enter the market.

    Record-low mortgage rates mean it’s a great time to purchase a home, and buyers are actively engaging in the market.
  • Myth: Fall is the wrong season to sell.

    You’ve probably heard that it’s better to list in the spring or summer. But this fall is a seller’s market — and a highly active one at that.
  • Myth: Home prices are decreasing.

    Nearly every metro region saw price growth this year, with trends outpacing expectations. In fact, historically low mortgage rates could allow people to afford higher-priced homes, encouraging them to buy now.
  • Myth: You won’t be able to show your home.

    You can show your home safely by following the recommended precautions. Virtual home tours and private showings are also options. 
  • Myth: The real estate market is going to crash.

    It’s a common concern, but what’s happening today is different from the financial crisis of 2008. Experts are optimistic, as the economy remains fundamentally strong. The housing market looks solid for the foreseeable future, and there is no reason to abandon your plans. 

It’s easy for the truth about selling to get lost in the shuffle. If you’re curious about what else is happening in real estate, especially our local market, reach out today. 

5 Countertops That Are Worth the Upgrade

Updating your kitchen can be a smart way to increase your home’s worth. In fact, Remodeling Magazine named a minor kitchen renovation one of the best projects to take on this year — and upgrading your countertops is a good place to start. 

The right countertop can add aesthetic and resale value to your home and improve your space’s functionality. 

Which of these five materials do you like best?

Quartz: These countertops are low maintenance and nonporous, meaning they won’t soak up moisture or hold bacteria. Quartz is also quite popular and may attract more buyers to your home when it comes time to sell.

Soapstone: This rare material is trending among home designers. Its unique aesthetic can add effortless style to your space, but it’ll come with a hefty price tag.

Granite: A classic style, granite offers a great look, as well as a scratch- and heat-resistant surface. It’s one of the more expensive countertops, and it needs regular resealing to stay in top condition.

Solid Surface: These countertops are a mixture of manmade materials and resins, making them easy to keep clean. Solid surface comes in all sorts of colors and tends to resemble granite — minus the high cost.

Eco-Friendly: Upcycled wood and recycled glass are two options in this category. The cost will depend on where you source your materials, but you’ll be minimizing your environmental footprint and getting a one-of-a-kind countertop in the process.

Simple cosmetic changes to your kitchen can make a big difference. Get in touch today for more tips on upping the resale value of your home.

Essentials to Keep in Your Emergency Kit

Let’s face it: You can’t predict the future. That’s why having a fully stocked emergency kit is so important. No matter the time of year, it’s always better to play it safe.  Would you and your family be prepared, just in case?  Putting essential supplies together doesn’t have to be a chore and can even be done fairly quickly. You just need a list and a plan.Need ideas? See below for useful items in any situation. 

Communication: Stay connected even if you lose power. Try a hand-crank or battery-powered radio — preferably one with charging ability to keep your devices running. 

Lighting: A flashlight and batteries are a must. Get a few different types, like lanterns, floodlights and keychains. You never know how much light you’ll need or where you’ll need to take it. You can also stash a few candles and some matches.

Food and Water: Pack at least three days’ worth of water, nonperishable foods and canned goods — and don’t forget the can opener. Think beans, nuts and seeds, protein bars and dried fruit.  

First-Aid Supplies: You’ll want a first-aid kit, complete with bandages, gauze, burn cream, antiseptic, sterile gloves, safety pins and more. Pain relievers and an extra supply of prescription medications are important, too.

Clothing and Bedding: Every family member will need a few changes of clothes and portable bedding like sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

Miscellaneous Items: Cash, personal documents and paper maps might not seem essential now, but they could come in handy. Other nice-to-have items include duct tape, cleaning products and a multitool. There’s no telling what the future may bring, so it’s important to be prepared for anything. Get in touch today for more home safety tips.

Tips for Choosing the Right Neighborhood

Finding a home that suits you is only part of the journey. Another big part? Choosing the right neighborhood.

The number of bedrooms and square footage are certainly important when buying a home — but the community might be even more vital. 

After all, it’s where you’ll likely exercise and socialize, where your kids will grow up and go to school and, ultimately, where you’ll put down roots and build a life.

Are you ready to look for a new home? Here’s how you can find the right neighborhood:

  • Know your needs. If walkability is high on your list, make sure the neighborhood offers plenty of paths to explore. Is your commute to work a big factor? How long will it be? What are your thoughts on homeowners associations?
  • Do some research. Take some time to look into the community. Check out school district ratings and look at nearby listings to see home values. Reach out to learn what else the community offers.
  • Check out online groups. Pull up any neighborhood groups you can find on social media. Does the online community seem friendly? You can also search for a neighborhood newsletter or local events.
  • Take a self-guided tour. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of day to get a feel for its character. Can you see yourself living there? If you’re buying from out of town, you can hop on Google Maps and take a virtual walk. 

And if you’re ready to take an online tour or see a home in person, get in touch today. Together we’ll find the right home and neighborhood for you.

An Easy Guide to Virtual Home Tours

Virtual home tours have quickly become the new norm. Sellers and agents now rely on digital tools, and many are skipping the traditional open house and opting for tours via video platforms.

But for buyers, there’s more uncertainty. Can you really judge a home from a screen?  

Surprisingly, you can — as long as you prepare. 

Are you gearing up for a home search? Want to make the most of your virtual tours?  

Download the app. Will the tour be livestreamed on social media? Or will you need to log in to a new platform? Install the right app and do a practice run with a friend.

Research the home. Go beyond the listing description. Look at every photo, drive by in your car, explore the neighborhood and pull up property records. Reach out if you’re unsure how to find this info.

Get the floor plan. Print the home’s floor plan and keep it on hand during the tour. This will help you understand where you’re at in the house (and gauge the size of each room) as you move through the property.

Pay attention to details. Ask to see areas the agent hasn’t shown. How big are the closets? What’s the view outside the windows? You can even ask to walk around the yard or up the street virtually.  

Write down questions. If your tour is one-on-one and in real time, you can ask questions as you go. If it’s a group open house or a prerecorded video, you’ll want to write down your questions, then we can discuss them together.

Adapting to the changing market is easier when you have a partner in your corner. Ready to make your next move? Get in touch today.

Is the Highest Offer the Best Offer?

Is the highest offer the best offer?
An offer on your home moves you one step closer to the finish line in the selling process. And if you’re lucky, you’ll receive multiple offers from a range of bidders. The highest bid is the obvious choice, right? Not necessarily. Here’s what to consider before moving forward on an offer:

Focus on your priorities. Take this step early, before any offers roll in. Make a list of what’s most important to you in the sale of your home, like a tight moving deadline or your financial needs. Are there any requests that would make an offer a deal breaker for you? 

Review the contingencies. Now that you’ve established your top priorities, determine your bidders’ conditions for the sale. Common contingencies for potential buyers include a property appraisal and a home inspection. 

Compare earnest money amounts. People who are interested in purchasing your home need to show you that their offer is made in good faith. An earnest money deposit proves the buyer is serious about the transaction. The more money they put into the deposit, the more likely they are to be able to back it up with financing.

Be aware of unusual requests. A bidder could ask you to make unnecessary repairs or leave all your appliances in the home for them. Their offer might be high, but if something unusual interferes with your top priorities, it might be best to move on to another option. Together, we’ll carefully read over their requests and discuss any questions or concerns you may have.Are you ready to get a great offer on your home? Get in touch today.

5 Upgrades to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

How have you been spending your summer? Have you been tending to your garden, grilling dinner on the patio or taking dips in the pool?

No matter what your property offers or how you and your family like to spend your free time, there’s almost always something you can do to make your outdoor space more inviting and enjoyable.

Could your home’s exterior use some sprucing up? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Arrange a living area. Outfit your patio with weatherproof furniture, a bright rug and some cozy blankets. Take it a step further by propping up a projector screen for movie nights. 
  • Hang string lights. Inexpensive and easy to install, string lights provide instant ambiance to your deck, pergola or gazebo. You can even attach them along a fence corner to create an outdoor nook. 
  • Install stone pavers. Use pavers to design or add to an existing patio. Pick something that matches your home’s aesthetic. For example, if your style is rustic, you could try cobblestone pavers. For a modern look, go with classic gray concrete.
  • Build a porch swing. If you’re the handy type, you’ll just need a few pieces of wood, some rope and anchors to set up the perfect place to watch the sunset. Add cushions and pillows for an extra touch of comfort.
  • Add plants and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with greenery. Include hanging and potted flowers, or grow a small garden in a sunny spot. If you’re looking to add shade, plant a fast-growing tree or two. 

A beautiful outdoor space can make your home more enjoyable for you now and more marketable when it comes time to sell. For more value-adding ideas or info about the housing market, get in touch today.

What to Know About Home Inspections

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, getting a home inspection can be nerve-wracking. If you’re selling, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any hidden issues in the home. And if you’re buying, you’ll want everything to be in great shape so you can move in quickly.  But how much do you really know about the home inspection process? You can start by asking yourself four questions:

Is a home inspection always necessary? A home inspection isn’t required — but it’s highly recommended. A house could look perfect on the outside but have underlying issues on the inside — like water damage or a faulty foundation. A home inspection is crucial because it can bring problems to light that otherwise would have worsened over time.

What does an inspector do? An inspector thoroughly checks the safety and proper function of the property. This includes the heating and cooling systems, gas and water, electrical system, foundation, roof and other features both inside and outside of the home.

Who pays for a home inspection? Typically, the buyer pays for the inspection because it’s for their benefit. If you’re a seller who would like to do a pre-listing home inspection, you would pay for it. The cost depends on the home’s value and size.

Do I have to be there? It’s recommended if you’re a homebuyer. But as a safety precaution, you may be asked to step outside or follow social distancing guidelines during the inspection. You can also tour the home virtually or talk over the phone with the inspector to discuss any questions you may have. 

Do you have other questions about home inspections? Reach out today.

How to Make a Winning Offer on a Home

The homebuying market continues to heat up — and that means there could be some fierce competition out there. While that may seem intimidating, it doesn’t mean your dream home is out of reach.

There are quite a few things you can do to stand out if you find yourself up against other buyers.

Want to make sure a property doesn’t slip through your fingers? Put these five tips into action to make a winning offer:

Write a personal letter. Tell the seller what you love about the home and what it means to you and your family. Include the letter with your offer to set yourself apart from other interested buyers.

Add an escalation clause. With an escalation clause, you agree to increase your bid (up to a certain point) if another buyer outbids you. It’s a great way to ensure you stay at the top in a bidding war.

Stay flexible and open-minded. Be mindful of the seller’s timeline. If they need to spend a few extra weeks in the home before you can move in, discuss potential ways to make it work for both of you.

Increase your earnest money deposit. Upping your deposit can give a seller more confidence in your offer. Just remember that sellers could end up keeping the earnest money if you pull out of the deal. 

Get preapproved for your loan. Another way to inspire confidence? Come in with a preapproval letter from a lender. 

Ready to start your home search? Get in touch for help finding the perfect home and making a winning offer.