Buying a Fixer-Upper: 5 Things to Know

In today’s busy market, many homebuyers have found themselves weighing options they would normally pass by. 

One of the more common compromises is to consider a home that needs some work.

On the plus side, fixer-uppers often come with lower prices, less competition and a lower-pressure sale on the whole. Still, they’re not without challenges.

Are you considering a fixer-upper? Here are five things to think about first.

1. You may need an alternative mortgage program. If you want to finance the home purchase and the renovations and repairs the property needs, you might consider loans like the FHA 203(k) loan or the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan. Your loan officer can help you choose the best option for your purchase.

2. There may be appraisal and inspection issues. If the home is in disrepair, you might face challenges with your inspection or appraisal. This is especially true if you’re using an FHA, USDA or VA loan, as properties must meet strict requirements with these programs.

3. You should have a backup living space. You might not want to end your lease or sell your existing home just yet. If the property needs serious repairs or renovations, you’ll probably need to live off-site until they’re complete.

4. You may want to bring a contractor along when you tour the home. This will help you gauge what repairs might be necessary and how much they’ll likely cost.

5. Be prepared for problems below the surface. Not all issues will be visible in a fixer-upper. There may be major problems lurking below the surface (like mold or termites, for example) that won’t crop up until later. Make sure you leave wiggle room in your budget to account for these potential surprises. 

Fixer-uppers are just one of the many options you have when buying a home. Have questions or need more help with your homebuying journey? Reach out today.

How to Make the Most of Your Home Equity

Home equity is a powerful thing.

As you pay off your mortgage, your equity — or the stake in the home you actually own — increases. And the more equity you build, the more you stand to gain when you sell.

But even if you aren’t planning to sell your property, equity can be used in a few different ways. Consider these four possibilities if you’d like to make the most of what you have.

Make Renovations

With a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC), you can turn your stake in your home into money that you can use for renovations, repairs or any other cost you might be facing.

Buy a New Home

Taking out a home equity loan or other product may give you the money you need to buy a vacation home or investment property. You could also sell your existing home, turn a profit and use those funds toward your next place.

Pay Off Debt

If you have high-interest credit card debts, personal loans or car loans, you might consider using a home equity loan or cash-out refinance to pay them off. This essentially rolls those balances into your new loan (and mortgages tend to have lower interest rates than other loans or credit lines).

Use It Toward Retirement

Equity also makes a great nest egg. Once you retire, you have the option to sell your home, downsize and use the profits your equity gave you to boost your income.

Do you want to learn more about home equity? Are you looking to buy or sell a home? Reach out today for assistance.

How to Prep for a Successful Home Sale

Are you thinking about selling your home? 

Supply is low and demand is high right now, which means many sellers are seeing quick turnarounds and healthy profits.

Still, despite the hot market, selling a home isn’t easy. If you want the experience to be as smooth as possible, prepping early and enlisting help are key. 

Want to make sure you’re primed for a fast and profitable home sale? Here’s what you can do:

Focus on curb appeal. Curb appeal can make a huge difference, so spend time painting the shutters, power-washing the exterior and tidying up the landscaping to make sure your home catches buyers’ eyes.

Declutter and clean. Pare down your belongings and get the house looking cleaner than ever. You want it to be pristine for any listing photos and videos.

Have an exit plan. Showings can be tricky, especially if you have kids or pets. Make sure you have a plan for how you’ll keep the home clean, and know where you’ll go when a showing is scheduled.

Know your next steps. Where will you go after you sell? In a hot market, it may be hard to find a home to buy right away. Make sure you have a backup plan, like a friend’s house or a rental you can use in the meantime.

Prep for the costs. Selling isn’t free. You’ll need to budget for things like repairs, upgrades, staging costs and commissions. If you’re buying a new home, you’ll have additional costs, too.

Do you need help with your sale or want to find out how much your home is worth? Reach out today.

Why Working with an Agent is so Important

HGTV and home renovation shows may be entertaining, but they’re not always accurate. In particular, most of them skip over the important ways real estate agents can help homeowners.

In the real world, agents play a huge role in home purchases, sales and even flips.

Are you planning to make a real estate move this year? Here are just a few of the ways an agent can help make the experience a success.

Experience and Local Knowledge

Agents know how to draw up your contracts, handle the paperwork and save you valuable time (which is vital in today’s busy market). We also have on-the-ground knowledge of the local market, which can help you better evaluate properties, make offers and negotiate pricing.

Negotiation Skills and Key Partners

Experienced agents also know how to negotiate successfully and can leverage inspection results, sales reports and other data to get you the best bang for your buck — whether you’re buying or selling.

Working with an agent also provides access to deep professional networks, which comes in handy when it’s time to find an inspector, contractor, financial adviser, mortgage lender, real estate attorney and other partners on your journey.

The Bottom Line

Finally, agents know all about home values — as well as what features, amenities and styles can increase your property value down the line. 

There’s no need to navigate a stressful, complex and high-stakes process alone when you could have a knowledgeable and compassionate agent working on your behalf.

Do you want help with your next home sale, purchase or fix-and-flip? Get in touch today.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Bathroom

Remodeling your bathroom can be a great investment. It immediately makes your home more usable and enjoyable, and in the long term, an upgrade could increase your home’s value by thousands of dollars.

And a remodel doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or costly event. There are quite a few small, low-cost projects that can offer a big impact. 

Thinking about updating a bathroom? Here are a few projects you might want to consider.

Improve the Lighting

Sometimes changing out a fixture or installing a different type of lighting can make all the difference. You can even upgrade to smart bulbs for extra value and convenience. 

Add Some Storage

Who doesn’t need more storage? Whether it’s adding an extra medicine cabinet above the toilet or shelves to the closet, every bathroom can be enhanced with a little extra storage space.

Update Countertops and Fixtures

Changing out the hardware can make a big difference. That might mean swapping countertop materials, changing out drawer pulls or installing new doorknobs and faucets.

Add a Pop of Color

You don’t need to paint the whole room, but a pop of color in an alcove or built-in shelving unit can quickly improve the space. You could even do a patterned wallpaper if it fits with your aesthetic.

Upgrade the Shower or Tub

Could you add seating or built-in storage to your shower? Jacuzzi jets to your tub? A floor-level door for accessibility? It’s the details that matter.

One more thing: If you do opt to update your bathroom, don’t skimp on the planning. Have a budget in place, carefully vet your contractors, and avoid DIYing anything you’re not entirely confident about.

Do you have questions about your home’s value? Reach out today.

Five Fun (and Useful) Summer Home Projects

Summer is a great time to improve your home’s exterior. 

And whether you’re interested in enjoying your space a little more or you want to boost your home’s value, it makes sense to find inspiration by taking a look at what other homeowners are doing.

Are you thinking about updating your yard or patio this summer? Here are five popular trends to consider trying for yourself.

Install a workout or play area. Make the most of your property by building a swing set or sandbox, adding a horseshoe pit or investing in a small climbing wall or some gym equipment that the whole family can use. 

Build a front yard social spot. Want a casual outdoor spot that’s welcoming to your friends and neighbors? Think about setting up a social area in the front yard — one with benches, swings and comfortable places to sit and chat.

Focus on backyard entertainment. For more private gatherings, focus on guest-friendly features in the backyard. Movie screens, fire pits and hot tubs are a few popular options. 

Add an outdoor kitchen. Love to cook? Just want to eat alfresco? Install an outdoor pizza oven or invest in a smoker or grill. Be sure to set up a roomy (and durable) dining area, too.

Plant a vegetable or herb garden. It’s never too late to improve your landscaping with something functional. Consider planting a few of your family’s favorite veggies or herbs in a small garden out back.

Need some guidance on potential upgrades that can improve your home’s value? Thinking about a new property purchase instead? Get in touch today.

Don’t Skip These 6 Smart Moving Tips

No matter how much you prepare and how excited you are about your new home, moving will always be a bit stressful. 

There are endless to-do’s and tiring tasks, and once you’re finished, there’s still unpacking and organizing to be done.

Even so, you can take steps to streamline your relocation and minimize problems.

Are you planning to move properties soon? Take a look at these helpful tips as you get started.

Declutter and donate. Your first step should be to declutter your house and donate any items you no longer need. You should do this a few months out — long before you start packing. 

Start vetting and reserving services early on. Book your packers, movers and moving trucks early on. This will ensure you get the dates you need (as well as the best rates). 

Pack an overnight bag for each member of the family. Think about what you’ll want access to on moving day and on the first night in your new place. Make sure to include snacks, water and anything else you might need. 

Get creative with packing materials. You don’t necessarily need packing peanuts or costly bubble wrap to keep your items safe. Consider using hand towels, dishcloths, blankets, socks and other soft belongings instead. (They need to be packed anyway, after all.)

Label boxes systematically. Pack items by room and label each group of boxes with its own color (using stickers or a marker). This makes them easy to spot when loading, unloading and unpacking. 

Plan for your pets and kids. Little ones and pets could get in the way during the big move, so make sure you arrange for them to stay somewhere safe until you’re more settled. 

Thinking of buying a new home this year? Get in touch to start your search.

Don’t Skip These 6 Smart Moving Tips

No matter how much you prepare and how excited you are about your new home, moving will always be a bit stressful. 

There are endless to-do’s and tiring tasks, and once you’re finished, there’s still unpacking and organizing to be done.

Even so, you can take steps to streamline your relocation and minimize problems.

Are you planning to move properties soon? Take a look at these helpful tips as you get started.

Declutter and donate. Your first step should be to declutter your house and donate any items you no longer need. You should do this a few months out — long before you start packing. 

Start vetting and reserving services early on. Book your packers, movers and moving trucks early on. This will ensure you get the dates you need (as well as the best rates). 

Pack an overnight bag for each member of the family. Think about what you’ll want access to on moving day and on the first night in your new place. Make sure to include snacks, water and anything else you might need. 

Get creative with packing materials. You don’t necessarily need packing peanuts or costly bubble wrap to keep your items safe. Consider using hand towels, dishcloths, blankets, socks and other soft belongings instead. (They need to be packed anyway, after all.)

Label boxes systematically. Pack items by room and label each group of boxes with its own color (using stickers or a marker). This makes them easy to spot when loading, unloading and unpacking. 

Plan for your pets and kids. Little ones and pets could get in the way during the big move, so make sure you arrange for them to stay somewhere safe until you’re more settled. 

Thinking of buying a new home this year? Get in touch to start your search.

3 Big Housing Decisions You May Face

Housing decisions are never small. Where you choose to live impacts your budget, your job prospects and your social life. 

And in the future, your home plays a major role in what your retirement might look like (financially and logistically). 

For these reasons, housing decisions require plenty of careful consideration.

Want to be prepared to make the right choice when the time comes? Start here.

1. Should you build or buy? 

Both building a new home or buying an existing one can be good choices. You’ll typically pay more for a new home, but it will likely need fewer repairs and have lower maintenance costs. 

Existing homes, on the other hand, are usually cheaper upfront. They may come with more issues and potential repairs, though.

2. Is it better to move or to remodel? 

There will typically come a time when you outgrow your first house. When this happens, you’ll need to decide whether updating (or expanding) that property is best or if you’re better off finding a new home instead. 

Renovating will come with some hassle and mess, but if you love your location or your kids’ schools, it can be a smart choice. Buying a new property would allow you to change some of those foundational aspects — things like location, school district and community amenities.

3. Is it time to downsize? 

As you age and your kids move out, you might consider a smaller house. Downsizing can reduce your monthly costs, free up cash flow and reduce the amount of cleaning and maintenance you need to do. 

On the other hand, it may be hard to part with your long-standing home — both for you and your grown children. You’ll also want to think about things like your budget, long-term retirement plans, physical comfort and more.

Need help making a big housing decision? We’re here for you. Get in touch today to discuss your options. 

Essential Spring Home Maintenance Tasks

Your home is an investment — and protecting that investment is probably one of your top priorities. 

So as the seasons change and you start to spruce up and refresh your space, be sure to make time for maintenance as well as spring cleaning. 

Keeping up with essential tasks will help ensure your home stays hazard-free, retains its value, and maybe even delivers a profit in the future.

Here are the top spring maintenance tasks to add to your to-do list today.

Structure and Foundation

  • Check the foundation and exterior walls for cracks.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts and repair any leaks or holes.
  • Inspect the roof, looking for loose or missing shingles, damage to any pipes, or unusual wear and tear.
  • Check for gaps around doors and windows and reseal them.

Systems and Appliances

  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Schedule an HVAC tuneup to ensure your system is ready when it’s needed.
  • Clean the refrigerator coils to lengthen your fridge’s life span.
  • Flush the water heater to remove all the sediment that has built up over the last year.
  • Replace air filters if you haven’t done so lately.
  • Clean your dryer vent duct to prevent fires and keep the dryer working more efficiently.

Outside Details

  • Check for termites to stop a damaging infestation as soon as possible.
  • Clean the siding, check for damage to exterior woodwork, and repair and reseal these areas as needed.
  • Check the sprinkler system to make sure all the heads are facing the right direction and do a test run before setting up your watering schedule.
  • Clean up the landscaping by trimming, mowing and clearing debris. You may also think about planting some seasonal flowers. 

Proper maintenance is critical to maintaining your home’s value. If you’re planning to sell soon, it’s even more important. 

Are you thinking of selling your house and buying a new one soon? Get in touch today.