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One of the many joys of homeownership is incorporating your signature style throughout your home. From furniture and rugs to artwork and paint colors, there are so many ways you can make a space all your own. 

But there’s one space in the home that’s often left untouched — the ceiling. Though rarely considered, it’s a vital part of your home’s story. 

Whatever your design style, there are plenty of ways to dress up your fifth wall. Check out these ceiling styles that designers and architects are raving about:

Go Modern Minimalist  
If you like sleek and elegant design schemes, minimalism is for you. A minimalist home has clean lines in a defined color palette. Forego bright color schemes and add elaborate elements sparingly. 

Paint, tile or paneling in black or grey add engaging contrast to ceilings without stealing the show.

Add Some Rustic Charm
If you’d prefer a more accessible look, then rustic style is the answer. It’s comfortable, warm and inviting with neutral tones and natural textures like wood and stone.

Wood is the order of the day with a rustic ceiling motif. Rough-hewn panels, bold beams or reclaimed wood will add stunning character to your barnhouse decor. 

Keep It Traditional
If you’re looking for a style that’s casual and understated, consider a classic look. It’s a great option whether you enjoy muted tones or simple pops of color.

For traditional ceilings, bright white paint with recessed lighting is a tried-and-true choice. Your cool and classic fifth wall can be flat or vaulted with lavish details like crown molding or coffers. 

Bring the Focal Point Down
If a crisp, white ceiling is your preferred style, you can dress up your fifth wall with a custom pendant or light fixture

Ready to get rid of those old popcorn ceilings? Get in touch if you’d like referrals to interior designers in our area. 

Or reach out today if you’re ready for a new space to design.

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Are you wondering how to avoid getting into a fast and furious bidding war once you find your dream home? Even if you can afford to pay more, it’s not always the best move. 

Money is one thing that turns sellers’ heads, but it's far from the only incentive when you’re competing with other buyers. So why raise the ante with more money? 

If you want to offer your seller something they can't refuse, try offering a flexible closing date.

Why is the closing date important?
On closing day, the home’s sales documents are signed and ownership changes hands. In most cases, that’s about 30 to 60 days from when your offer is accepted. 

But what if that doesn’t work with the seller’s timeline? 

How can a flexible closing help you? 
Some sellers need to get out fast. They could be relocating and need to move immediately. Maybe they already bought a new home. By offering a fast closing, you can help them to avoid paying two mortgages. 

Other sellers need more time. Maybe they're building their dream home and hit an unexpected construction delay. Your flexibility with a delayed possession date offers them the security of having their new home lined up before they have to move. 

How else can we sweeten the deal?
Let’s say the best bid you can make is a bit lower than the listing price. Offering a seller rent-back might encourage them to choose your offer over others that are less accommodating. This lets the seller rent the space from you for a set amount of time until they’re ready to move.

To make a flexible closing date work for you, remember to go on a month-to-month lease or have alternative housing options ready. 

When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, keep in mind that understanding what motivates the seller is how we’ll get your offer accepted. 

Ready to start your search? Reach out today. 

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If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of buying your first home, don’t worry — you’re not in it alone.

We’ll discuss each step of the process to make sure that you not only love your new home, but that you also get the best deal possible. 

 

 Click the image to download the e-book.

 

This first-time homebuyers' guide will help you get started in understanding the buying and financing process. Download the e-book today or share it with a friend. 

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

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It’s finally happened — after months of searching, you’ve found your dream home. It’s the perfect size for your growing family, the kitchen was just remodeled and there’s a huge deck for entertaining. And best of all, the seller accepted your offer! 

As we near your closing date, your lender will want to verify the home’s value with an appraisal. This might sound nerve-wracking, but don’t worry: Appraisals protect you from overpaying.

Let’s dive into appraisals to demystify the process: 

When do you need an appraisal?
If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy a new home, the lender will require an appraisal. The appraiser gives an independent estimate of the property based on recent sales data of similar homes

When your mortgage amount matches the appraised price of the home, you know that you have a good loan-to-value ratio — and aren’t paying more than you should be.

What does an appraiser look for?
An appraiser will physically measure the home’s square footage and visually inspect the entire property. They’ll note things like:

Comparing all of that against similar nearby homes sold within the last 90 days, the appraiser arrives at your home’s value.

What if it’s valued for less than you expected?
Let’s say you agreed to buy the property for $250,000 but the appraisal came in at $225,000. Your lender won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised price. 

If you still want to buy the home, we can negotiate a lower price with the seller or challenge the appraisal and pay for a second opinion. 

Another option is to walk away. This may not sound ideal, and it will probably be hard to do. But our goal is to get you the right home at the best price. 

If an appraisal comes in low, we’ll discuss all the options available to make sure you don’t overpay.

Are you ready to find your dream home? Reach out today to get started. 

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You saw an online ad for low mortgage rates and decided to apply — just to see if you qualify. Now your phone is buzzing nonstop, and lenders are emailing you about “DTIs” and W-2s. 

The onslaught of financing questions can be baffling when you’re tackling them alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Looking for some insight to make financing more straightforward? These four tips will get you started:

1. It’s okay to play the field.
Don’t be afraid to apply for several loans with different lenders to compare the terms and rates. You can — and should —  shop around. 

Just be sure to do so within a set time period to avoid multiple credit inquiries

2. Manual underwriting can help you qualify.
Most lenders automate their approval process to speed up transactions. However, if you fall outside conventional requirements, they can’t see your full financial picture. That’s where manual underwriting comes in.

Buyers with concerns about their income or credit should verify that their lender will manually underwrite the loan if needed. 

3. Broaden your prospects with a fixer-upper mortgage. 
Buying a fixer-upper can give you more home at a lower price. Did you know that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Fannie Mae offer loans that will cover the mortgage and necessary home repairs?

4. You don’t need 20% down.
Perhaps the biggest homebuying myth is that you can’t buy without 20% down. But you can. Here’s how:

Mortgage financing can feel overwhelming. But you’re not in it alone.

Reach out today for a referral to a trusted lender to get preapproved for your next home.

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Like many homeowners, you might be hoping to capitalize on the hot summer homebuying season to sell your house for a pretty penny. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make enough for the beach house you’ve been eyeing or for a long summer getaway.

But first, you’ll need to get your home ready to sell. And getting a home inspection may be one of the best ways to do that.

Inspections can shed light on potential issues and help you make necessary repairs before listing your home. It might even help you fetch a higher asking price if the inspection shows that your home is in better condition than others in the area. 

All in all, an inspection can:

1. Alert You to Issues Before Going Under Contract
A home inspection can highlight issues that might concern potential buyers. 

Pro tip: You should fix any issues that pose a safety hazard. And your inspection report can serve as a repair guide before listing.

2. Gauge Your Pricing Expectations
Inspections help you get a handle on what condition your home is in and what price it might fetch. 

Pro tip: A clean inspection report, or proof of recent repairs, can help buyers feel more confident in making an offer.

3. Prevent Closing Delays
If issues crop up during the buyer’s inspection, it could delay closing due to repairs or prolonged negotiations. The buyer could even pull their offer altogether.

Pro tip: Fixing issues before listing the home can improve the outcome of your buyer’s inspection. And that could mean less negotiation on the whole.

Keep in mind that inspections come with an upfront fee, and you’ll be legally required to disclose any issues the inspector finds. However, we can discuss the inspection report to see how repairs could affect your home’s market value

Are you considering selling your home this year? Want to know what it’s worth or what you can expect in today’s market? Reach out today for a free local market report and see how your house measures up.

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You’ve been living with your best friend since freshman year of college, and it’s been a blast. So why not pool your money and go in on a house together? After all, it’s easier to buy when you have two incomes. 

It’s true that co-buying a home with friends or family can make it easier to own a home. And it can reduce your upfront costs. 

But there are a few unique differences to co-buying. Here are three you should consider and discuss before you jump into the process.

1. What type of ownership will you have? 
Don’t assume that splitting the mortgage determines the ownership. 

If one person will be paying a larger portion, you might want to be tenants in common. This also allows you to transfer or sell your share of the property at any time. But if you want to divide the ownership equally, you can choose to be joint tenants.

2. How are your credit scores looking? 
When two buyers are on a mortgage app, lenders use the lowest credit score to determine the interest rate. 

Do you both have excellent credit? If not, you could have only one person on the mortgage loan, but you’ll only be able to count one income to determine the loan size. 

3. How will you pay your bills each month?
This sounds like a minor detail, but it’s important to be on the same page about finances before the bills come in.

Will you pay bills out of a joint household account? Or will one person pay the full bill and have the other pay them back?

Once you’ve discussed your plans for the finances and ownership, your best bet is to have a legal agreement prepared ahead of time.  

Have more questions about co-buying a home? Reach out today to discuss your needs and get the process started. 

" ["content2"]=> string(0) "" ["share_title"]=> string(25) "Want to buy with friends?" ["share_caption"]=> string(51) "What if one person wants to sell before the other? " ["share_description"]=> string(108) "There are different financial and legal considerations when you buy with friends. Make sure you're prepared." ["variant_count"]=> int(0) ["duration"]=> int(0) ["parent_campaign_id"]=> int(0) ["preheader"]=> string(83) "It can be exciting and challenging to buy with friends. 3 tips to tackle co-buying:" ["synch_recip_list"]=> bool(false) ["suggested_palette_id"]=> int(2) ["headline"]=> string(38) "Buying With Friends Isn't Like Renting" ["is_graphical_headline"]=> bool(false) ["version"]=> int(2) ["hero_image_id"]=> int(2756797) ["board_image_id"]=> int(2756800) ["social_image_id"]=> int(2756803) ["streamed"]=> string(24) "2019-07-05T00:17:00.000Z" ["processed"]=> string(24) "2019-07-05T00:17:00.000Z" ["custom_read_more"]=> string(9) "READ MORE" ["image_url"]=> string(0) "" ["deleted"]=> bool(false) ["legacy"]=> bool(false) ["holiday_card"]=> bool(false) ["newsletter_online_url"]=> string(71) "homebuying-what-to-consider-when-buying-a-home-with-friends-or-family-1" ["share_title_url_encoded"]=> string(27) "Want+to+buy+with+friends%3F" ["share_caption_url_encoded"]=> string(53) "What+if+one+person+wants+to+sell+before+the+other%3F+" ["share_description_url_encoded"]=> string(110) "There+are+different+financial+and+legal+considerations+when+you+buy+with+friends.+Make+sure+you%27re+prepared." } ["campaign_date"]=> string(12) "July 11 2019" ["url"]=> string(71) "homebuying-what-to-consider-when-buying-a-home-with-friends-or-family-1" } [7]=> object(stdClass)#1417 (4) { ["image_url"]=> string(105) "https://content.outboundengine.com/uploads/original/46642/s7U1NRsCjqRwf2XrS2EdW_ru-G7JRwfTHs2fClrpZIk.jpg" ["campaign"]=> object(stdClass)#1418 (38) { ["id"]=> int(105991) ["name"]=> string(43) "Home Renovations: When to DIY or Hire a Pro" ["campaign_type"]=> int(1) ["vertical"]=> int(1) ["user_id"]=> int(0) ["campaign_status"]=> int(5) ["date"]=> string(24) "2019-06-24T00:00:00.000Z" ["java_date"]=> string(20) "2019-06-24T00:00:00Z" ["subject"]=> string(19) "Do you love to DIY?" ["url"]=> string(42) "home-renovations-when-to-diy-or-hire-a-pro" ["content"]=> string(2207) "

How handy would you say you are? Can you fix a leaking faucet or install a new backsplash? Do you own all the drills, power saws and sanders used by the pros?

It can be tempting to DIY it all — especially if you’re on a budget. After all, you can have an active role in improving your home, and save cash to put toward other things. Why wouldn’t you want to?

The truth is not all projects are suited for a DIYer — no matter how much of a shiplap expert you might be. 

If you’re considering a few renovations, here’s when to put on your toolbelt and when you might want to call a pro: 

In the Kitchen: You can probably replace a sink, reface your cabinets or install a new dishwasher. 

Want to move the sink or add recessed lighting? You’ll want a pro.

In the Bathroom: Installing new floor tiles, upgrading your toilet seat or changing your showerhead are all tasks you can do. 

If you want in-floor radiant heating or to install a tub where there isn’t one, bring in a pro.

On the Exterior: Looking for more curb appeal with a new garden bed and a fresh coat of paint on your front door? Have at it. 

Substantial upgrades like installing a skylight, repairing your roof or repaving your driveway are better suited for a professional.

Structural Changes: If you’re super handy, you can probably install drywall or relocate a door. 

But if you’re changing an area that’s load-bearing? Definitely call a pro.

Remember, DIY doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. You’ll want to hire a professional for anything that requires specialized knowledge. There’s no shame in asking for help from an expert. 

Want to discuss what home renovations might improve your property’s value? Get in touch today.

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Have you ever decided to buy something, only to find out about additional costs at the end? The last thing you want is to be surprised by unexpected fees – especially at your closing. 

You’ve made your financial calculations. Extra charges at the eleventh hour could make all your plans go bust. 

But you can't just skip the closing – that's when the legal ownership is transferred. 

Want to avoid being blindsided at your closing? Here's how to plan ahead for closing fees: 

What’s the deal with closing costs? 
Closing costs typically run about 2% to 5% of the purchase price and are paid to lenders, attorneys and other third parties. Buyers often have more closing costs than sellers because most fees are related to the new mortgage loan. 

Common closing costs for buyers:

Common closing costs for sellers:

How can you lower the costs?
After applying for a mortgage, you’ll receive a Loan Estimate from the lender. It summarizes the loan terms, such as the loan amount, interest rate and all closing costs. Comparing Loan Estimates from different lenders is important. 

Page 2 of the Loan Estimate also details the services you can shop around for, such as surveys, appraisals and title searches. 

Are closing costs ever negotiable? 
Yes. A seller or buyer sometimes agrees to pay part or all of the other party’s closing costs. This is something we can negotiate into the purchase agreement.

As for paying the closing costs? Some lenders will allow you to roll the cost into your mortgage. However, you’ll pay interest on it for the life of the loan. Paying cash upfront is a smarter option if you have the funds available. 

Have more questions about closing on a home? Or are you ready to get your home search started? Reach out today.

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You know all those fantastic home features you hear your friends gushing about in their new home? The top-notch school district and Jacuzzi? The spacious third level and even more abundant yard? 

Well, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But they’re not right for everyone. 

In fact, for some buyers, they might even be a waste of money. 

Are you on the hunt for a home this year? Give careful consideration to whether you’re paying for features you’ll use. 

Want to know the three that people often overpay for?  

The Biggest House on the Block
Have three dogs and a few active toddlers? Then room to run is a must. Is it just you and your spouse? Springing for a five-bedroom corner lot might not be worth the cash. 

Buying tip: 
Buy for the space you need and are planning for – not the extra level you might use someday. You can always buy a move-up property if your plans change.

A Highly Rated School District
Great schools are important if kids are in your future – or if you have little ones already. But if that’s not in the cards for you, plotting your homebuying plans around them isn’t necessary. 

Buying tip:
You may find more affordable properties, and property taxes, if you search outside those school districts.

Custom Amenities 
Home theaters, quartz countertops and pools are popular amenities that many buyers are willing to pay top dollar for. Are you?

Buying tip:
Focus on the amenities you know you’ll use often and get the most value from. 

It’s not always easy to evaluate your short- and long-term needs. That’s why it’s essential for us to discuss how your future plans will affect your homebuying goals.  

Do you need help finding your perfect-fit home with features you’ll love (and use)? Reach out today to get started. 

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You’ve decided it’s time to sell your home. Your neighbor just sold for a pretty penny, but they also spent a lot on remodeling and renovations. Does that mean you need to upgrade your home to sell? 

Is it worth trying to sell as is? Or will your home be passed up and stuck on the market?

Fortunately, full-scale remodels aren’t required to sell your home. Sure, a home reno might fetch more money, but it’s not always worth the time and effort. 

So how do you know what’s worth fixing up? Here are the do’s and don’ts of pre-listing home renovations: 

Do:

Don’t:

A few repairs and upgrades can certainly make your home more marketable. But a full-scale remodel? That’s not necessary in most cases. 

Are you ready to sell? Get in touch today for a comprehensive review and marketing plan for selling your home.

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You wouldn’t pick out shoes before choosing an outfit, right? Or buy car accessories without first deciding if you want a truck or a sedan?

Well, house hunting should be treated the same way.

You shouldn’t search for a dream home without vetting neighborhoods or experiencing the new area for yourself. 

If the area doesn’t meet your needs, the property may not provide a dream scenario. So how do you make sure you’ve found the right neighborhood? Keep these details in mind:

Cost of Living
Are the property taxes and HOA fees trending upward? Are there mostly trendy boutiques and high-end businesses in the area, or does it have a good mix of local and national retailers?

Planned commercial development could affect the long-term affordability of the area. However, having more access to retailers and entertainment could enhance your lifestyle.

Commutes and Social Life
How close do you want to be to the friends and family you visit the most? How far are you willing to drive to get to the restaurants, theaters or stores that you frequent?

It’s understandable to prioritize your work commute, but keep in mind the other places you visit on a daily or weekly basis.

Long-Term Goals
How does the community fit into your future goals? Are there good schools, parks or sports leagues for your family?

A thriving community adds to your quality of life. And it’s a good sign for future home values.

Want to try before you buy? Where possible, consider renting a unit in the area for a few days through a short-term rental site. Experiencing the neighborhood like a resident can help you to decide if it fits your current and future needs.

Are you looking for a new home? Get in touch if you’d like to see a neighborhood report.

" ["content2"]=> string(0) "" ["share_title"]=> string(37) "How to Find the Perfect Neighborhood " ["share_caption"]=> string(64) "Make sure your dream home is somewhere you really want to live. " ["share_description"]=> string(59) "What should you focus on first? The house or the location? " ["variant_count"]=> int(0) ["duration"]=> int(0) ["parent_campaign_id"]=> int(0) ["preheader"]=> string(93) "Find your dream home faster by choosing the neighborhood first. Reach out for a local report." ["synch_recip_list"]=> bool(false) ["suggested_palette_id"]=> int(2) ["headline"]=> string(38) "Have you checked out the neighborhood?" ["is_graphical_headline"]=> bool(false) ["version"]=> int(2) ["hero_image_id"]=> int(2623574) ["board_image_id"]=> int(2623577) ["social_image_id"]=> int(2623580) ["streamed"]=> string(24) "2019-04-19T00:32:00.000Z" ["processed"]=> string(24) "2019-04-19T00:32:00.000Z" ["custom_read_more"]=> string(9) "READ MORE" ["image_url"]=> string(0) "" ["deleted"]=> bool(false) ["legacy"]=> bool(false) ["holiday_card"]=> bool(false) ["newsletter_online_url"]=> string(50) "homebuying-tips-for-finding-the-right-neighborhood" ["share_title_url_encoded"]=> string(37) "How+to+Find+the+Perfect+Neighborhood+" ["share_caption_url_encoded"]=> string(64) "Make+sure+your+dream+home+is+somewhere+you+really+want+to+live.+" ["share_description_url_encoded"]=> string(63) "What+should+you+focus+on+first%3F+The+house+or+the+location%3F+" } ["campaign_date"]=> string(13) "April 25 2019" ["url"]=> string(50) "homebuying-tips-for-finding-the-right-neighborhood" } [12]=> object(stdClass)#1427 (4) { ["image_url"]=> string(105) "https://content.outboundengine.com/uploads/original/46642/5PTQlYq5Kc7pIp_2V2Mv-4QBTJm6Rr4myaLNs2n44UQ.jpg" ["campaign"]=> object(stdClass)#1428 (38) { ["id"]=> int(105778) ["name"]=> string(58) "Investing: Identifying If a Fixer Upper Is Cost-Efficient " ["campaign_type"]=> int(1) ["vertical"]=> int(1) ["user_id"]=> int(0) ["campaign_status"]=> int(5) ["date"]=> string(24) "2019-04-08T00:00:00.000Z" ["java_date"]=> string(20) "2019-04-08T00:00:00Z" ["subject"]=> string(24) "Does it have good bones?" ["url"]=> string(56) "investing-identifying-if-a-fixer-upper-is-cost-efficient" ["content"]=> string(2147) "

TV shows make finding a profitable fixer-upper seem easy. But in the real world, there are real challenges and decisions to be made.  

Whether you’re buying an investment property or a starter home for your family, there are dozens of factors to consider. How much will it cost to renovate? Are home values rising or falling in the neighborhood? How in-demand is the area? 

Want to make sure your purchase isn’t a money pit? Ask yourself these four questions:

1. Does it have good bones?
We want to avoid expensive repairs that would eat into your bottom line. It’s vital to have structural elements like the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical and HVAC system inspected. 

2. Is the price comparable to the area? 
The property may come at a fixer-upper price, but how does it compare to others in the area? Let’s also take a look at new developments or zoning laws that could influence future home values.

3. Does it need special inspections?
Fixer-uppers need to go beyond standard inspections. Things like sewer lines, septic systems and pools age with the property, so it’s important to have each evaluated. 

4. What does your contractor think?
Bringing a contractor on board early is essential when creating your renovation budget. We need to estimate the cost of any aesthetic changes or upgrades to avoid overimproving the home.

Remember, it’s not just the sticker price you want to consider when buying a fixer-upper, but the cost of the entire project. 

Do you need help finding the fixer-upper of your dreams?
Together, we can evaluate the purchase price, factor in repair costs and determine the future resale value of the home. 

If you’ve already got your eye on a fixer-upper, or want help finding a contractor in our area, get in touch today.

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Want to take the pain out of homebuying? Keep your lifestyle priorities top of mind.

If you’re planning to buy a new home, there’s great news: More houses have hit the market in recent months. This means you’ve got more options to choose from.

Choice is always good, but it can also be overwhelming.

The key? Careful, disciplined prioritization. 

Let’s go beyond square footage or the number of bedrooms and consider how the property fits your life. By focusing on what matters the most to you, we can refine your search to the closest matches. 

Here are the three questions every potential homebuyer should ask themselves: 

Where do you want to live?
Think beyond your commute. Do you want to be in a specific school district? How much street noise can you cope with? 

Are you looking for an established neighborhood or one that’s up and coming? That could affect future home values

What does the future hold?
Think about the next 10 years. Are you planning to have kids? Will your aging parents move in? 

If you plan to stay for the long haul, you might want a property to accommodate your family today, and in the future. If you know your career will have you on the move, will you want to sell the property or rent it out?

How much work are you willing to do?
When considering condition, be honest with yourself. How much work are you truly willing to take on? 

If the home needs cosmetic updates, will you want them completed before you move in? If you fall for a fixer-upper, do you have a budget for renovations?

Communication is a critical element of your home search. The more information you share, the better we’re able to match you with a home that fits your life.

Got your priorities in order? Let’s find your dream home. Reach out today.

" ["content2"]=> string(0) "" ["share_title"]=> string(36) "Ask These 3 Questions Before Buying " ["share_caption"]=> string(33) "Do you really want a fixer-upper?" ["share_description"]=> string(83) "On the home search? Focus on what's important to your family's needs and lifestyle." ["variant_count"]=> int(0) ["duration"]=> int(0) ["parent_campaign_id"]=> int(0) ["preheader"]=> string(84) "Here are the top priorities you should consider if you're thinking of buying a home:" ["synch_recip_list"]=> bool(false) ["suggested_palette_id"]=> int(2) ["headline"]=> string(38) "3 Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask" ["is_graphical_headline"]=> bool(false) ["version"]=> int(2) ["hero_image_id"]=> int(2540119) ["board_image_id"]=> int(2540122) ["social_image_id"]=> int(2540140) ["streamed"]=> string(24) "2019-03-22T00:37:00.000Z" ["processed"]=> string(24) "2019-03-22T00:37:00.000Z" ["custom_read_more"]=> string(9) "READ MORE" ["image_url"]=> string(0) "" ["deleted"]=> bool(false) ["legacy"]=> bool(false) ["holiday_card"]=> bool(false) ["newsletter_online_url"]=> string(57) "homebuying-creating-your-priority-list-when-buying-a-home" ["share_title_url_encoded"]=> string(36) "Ask+These+3+Questions+Before+Buying+" ["share_caption_url_encoded"]=> string(35) "Do+you+really+want+a+fixer-upper%3F" ["share_description_url_encoded"]=> string(89) "On+the+home+search%3F+Focus+on+what%27s+important+to+your+family%27s+needs+and+lifestyle." } ["campaign_date"]=> string(13) "March 28 2019" ["url"]=> string(57) "homebuying-creating-your-priority-list-when-buying-a-home" } [14]=> object(stdClass)#1431 (4) { ["image_url"]=> string(105) "https://content.outboundengine.com/uploads/original/46642/XcygJScXolgMUVf2K72YkgD1wI6lRciwv43gVFETFiM.jpg" ["campaign"]=> object(stdClass)#1432 (38) { ["id"]=> int(99613) ["name"]=> string(45) "Selling: Tips for Preparing Your Home to Sell" ["campaign_type"]=> int(1) ["vertical"]=> int(1) ["user_id"]=> int(0) ["campaign_status"]=> int(5) ["date"]=> string(24) "2019-03-11T00:00:00.000Z" ["java_date"]=> string(20) "2019-03-11T00:00:00Z" ["subject"]=> string(48) "Are you doing the little things homebuyers love?" ["url"]=> string(44) "selling-tips-for-preparing-your-home-to-sell" ["content"]=> string(2275) "

There’s never been a better time to sell a home.

Millennials are ready for homeownership and renters are seeing consistent rent increases. This means more buyers than ever are on the market for a home like yours. 

Home equity is also at all-time highs, which makes now the perfect time to sell and get more cash to put toward your next home.

Considering listing your home? Let’s start with the proven ways to maximize your returns: 

1. Clear the clutter. Crammed closets and overfilled garages can give buyers the impression your property is short on space. Declutter aggressively to accentuate the storage possibilities buyers get excited about. 

Pro Tip: Buyers love to open cabinets and drawers. Clear those spaces, too.

2. Maximize the possibilities. A potential home should be a blank slate -- a space buyers can imagine making their own. Keep personal items to a minimum and aim for a neutral look. 

Pro Tip: Set the dinner table so buyers can visualize coming home after a long day.

3. Brighten it up. Expose as much natural light as possible. For darker or interior rooms, use high-wattage bulbs in light fixtures.

Pro Tip: A fresh coat of light paint makes a home feel cheerful and shows pride of ownership.

4. Rearrange the furniture. Can people move around without bumping into furniture? Does the layout invite guests to sit down and relax?

Pro Tip: To invite conversation, don’t make a TV the focal point of any room. 

5. Outside views matter. Exteriors make a critical first impression. Ace yours by repainting your entry door and polishing the door handle. Potted plants on patios or balconies also make the outside of your home feel welcoming.

Pro Tip: Colorful flowers on window sills look great indoors and add to the outside appeal.

Do you need help staging your home? Or maybe you have budget concerns about upgrades needed before you list. Reach out today. Let’s make sure we maximize the appeal of your home, simply and cost-effectively.

 

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Who doesn’t love getting a tax refund? 

It’s exciting to know that your bank balance will get a boost. But remember, a refund isn’t a bonus -- it’s your hard-earned money, which is why you should make the most of it.

If you’re thinking of buying a new home this year -- whether it's your first home or the one you plan to retire in -- financial planning is critical. 

Expecting a refund? Make a bigger impact on your home purchase with these tips:

1. Lower Your Mortgage Rate: Did you know you can pay “points” up front to lower the interest rate of your mortgage? If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, this could result in significant savings over the life of your loan.

2. Pay Closing Costs: Closing costs average about 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Many buyers roll it into their mortgage and pay it off over the life of the loan. But you could use your refund to pay it up front and avoid paying interest.

3. Save for a Down Payment: In some cases, your refund could cover your entire down payment. Some loans only require 3 percent down, so this is more realistic than you might think.

4. Boost Your Credit Score: Paying down your debts can have a significant impact on your credit score and the mortgage rate you’ll qualify for. 

5. Renovate or Update Appliances: Many buyers are tempted to open a line of credit to pay for these purchases, but that could negatively impact your mortgage loan. Using your refund is the smarter move.

Remember, a tax refund is only one factor to consider in your homebuying budget. Get in touch today for a referral to a financial planner or mortgage lender if you need help preparing your budget. Let’s work together to plan your path to homeownership. 

 

" ["content2"]=> string(0) "" ["share_title"]=> string(17) "5 Tax Refund Tips" ["share_caption"]=> string(74) "You can use it to cover closing costs or put it toward your down payment. " ["share_description"]=> string(77) "A refund can go a long way toward a home purchase, regardless of the amount. " ["variant_count"]=> int(0) ["duration"]=> int(0) ["parent_campaign_id"]=> int(0) ["preheader"]=> string(73) "Expecting a refund? It could go a long way toward your new home purchase." ["synch_recip_list"]=> bool(false) ["suggested_palette_id"]=> int(2) ["headline"]=> string(39) "5 Ways to Use Your Refund Toward a Home" ["is_graphical_headline"]=> bool(false) ["version"]=> int(2) ["hero_image_id"]=> int(2536474) ["board_image_id"]=> int(2536477) ["social_image_id"]=> int(2536486) ["streamed"]=> string(24) "2019-02-22T00:02:00.000Z" ["processed"]=> string(24) "2019-02-22T00:02:00.000Z" ["custom_read_more"]=> string(9) "READ MORE" ["image_url"]=> string(0) "" ["deleted"]=> bool(false) ["legacy"]=> bool(false) ["holiday_card"]=> bool(false) ["newsletter_online_url"]=> string(62) "homebuying-using-your-tax-refund-toward-your-new-home-purchase" ["share_title_url_encoded"]=> string(17) "5+Tax+Refund+Tips" ["share_caption_url_encoded"]=> string(74) "You+can+use+it+to+cover+closing+costs+or+put+it+toward+your+down+payment.+" ["share_description_url_encoded"]=> string(79) "A+refund+can+go+a+long+way+toward+a+home+purchase%2C+regardless+of+the+amount.+" } ["campaign_date"]=> string(16) "February 28 2019" ["url"]=> string(62) "homebuying-using-your-tax-refund-toward-your-new-home-purchase" } [16]=> object(stdClass)#1435 (4) { ["image_url"]=> string(105) "https://content.outboundengine.com/uploads/original/46642/ul8PkD_XQCCNdhyNkUMYjJXtXMYN3lcHlzk-tcIayXE.jpg" ["campaign"]=> object(stdClass)#1436 (38) { ["id"]=> int(95064) ["name"]=> string(61) "Market Trends: What's in store for the spring housing market?" ["campaign_type"]=> int(1) ["vertical"]=> int(1) ["user_id"]=> int(0) ["campaign_status"]=> int(5) ["date"]=> string(24) "2019-02-11T00:00:00.000Z" ["java_date"]=> string(20) "2019-02-11T00:00:00Z" ["subject"]=> string(53) "What you need to know about the spring housing market" ["url"]=> string(58) "market-trends-whats-in-store-for-the-spring-housing-market" ["content"]=> string(2297) "

We’re approaching spring, which means the housing market is getting ramped up. 

Experts agree that the market is softening for buyers, but will it be a full-on buyer’s market? Definitely not -- at least, not by springtime. 

This spring, buyers will likely see fewer bidding wars, slower price growth and less competition. But sellers will still have some leverage.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home this spring? Keep these things in mind:

1. Prices won’t skyrocket.
The last few years have seen massive jumps in home prices, especially during the busy spring buying season. This year price growth is likely to slow down a bit in most markets. We may see higher prices at the height of the buying season, but they’re unlikely to be drastically higher than those seen at the end of 2018.

2. Year-over-year inventory will likely remain stagnant.
Because mortgage rates are rising, many homeowners are staying put. New home construction continues to grow, but it still lags behind buyer demand. This means we are unlikely to see an increase in listings from previous years. 

3. Bidding wars will lessen.
The days of sight-unseen offers and heated bidding wars are mostly over. Except for a few hotter markets, most buyers will enjoy a slower-paced market and a little more leverage than in years past. 

4. Sellers might have to make some concessions.
As mortgage rates rise, fewer buyers are looking to get in on the market, and that means sellers will need to do more to get their attention. This could mean more concessions and more room for negotiations.

Having a knowledgeable agent on your side is crucial to effectively navigating 2019’s changing housing market. If you’re considering buying or selling this year, get in touch today for personalized advice and guidance.

" ["content2"]=> string(0) "" ["share_title"]=> string(23) "Real Estate Predictions" ["share_caption"]=> string(75) "What you should know before you buy or sell a home in the next few months. " ["share_description"]=> string(44) "What's ahead for the spring housing market? " ["variant_count"]=> int(0) ["duration"]=> int(0) ["parent_campaign_id"]=> int(0) ["preheader"]=> string(72) "Thinking of buying or selling this spring? Read this, then get in touch." ["synch_recip_list"]=> bool(false) ["suggested_palette_id"]=> int(2) ["headline"]=> string(39) "Preparing for the Spring Housing Market" ["is_graphical_headline"]=> bool(false) ["version"]=> int(2) ["hero_image_id"]=> int(1423681) ["board_image_id"]=> int(1423795) ["social_image_id"]=> int(1424038) ["streamed"]=> string(24) "2019-02-08T00:02:00.000Z" ["processed"]=> string(24) "2019-02-08T00:02:00.000Z" ["custom_read_more"]=> string(9) "READ MORE" ["image_url"]=> string(0) "" ["deleted"]=> bool(false) ["legacy"]=> bool(false) ["holiday_card"]=> bool(false) ["newsletter_online_url"]=> string(58) "market-trends-whats-in-store-for-the-spring-housing-market" ["share_title_url_encoded"]=> string(23) "Real+Estate+Predictions" ["share_caption_url_encoded"]=> string(75) "What+you+should+know+before+you+buy+or+sell+a+home+in+the+next+few+months.+" ["share_description_url_encoded"]=> string(48) "What%27s+ahead+for+the+spring+housing+market%3F+" } ["campaign_date"]=> string(16) "February 14 2019" ["url"]=> string(58) "market-trends-whats-in-store-for-the-spring-housing-market" } [17]=> object(stdClass)#1437 (4) { ["image_url"]=> string(105) "https://content.outboundengine.com/uploads/original/46642/oLroAE3y5iZeTcGcbfs-KpmZrRLFyrldzN997wPEqA4.jpg" ["campaign"]=> object(stdClass)#1438 (38) { ["id"]=> int(92943) ["name"]=> string(64) "Home Trends: Smart Home Products That Can Improve Your Lifestyle" ["campaign_type"]=> int(1) ["vertical"]=> int(1) ["user_id"]=> int(0) ["campaign_status"]=> int(5) ["date"]=> string(24) "2019-01-28T00:00:00.000Z" ["java_date"]=> string(20) "2019-01-28T00:00:00Z" ["subject"]=> string(37) "How practical is smart tech for you? " ["url"]=> string(63) "home-trends-smart-home-products-that-can-improve-your-lifestyle" ["content"]=> string(2332) "

Smart tech has come a long way for homeowners. With the right tools, you no longer have to get up to turn on lights or change the thermostat. Have a habit of forgetting to lock the front door or turn on your porch light at night? Smart home tech can help with that, too. 

Are you thinking of installing a few smart devices in your home? Here are some of the most popular and practical options to consider:  

Security Products
This includes motion-activated doorbell cameras, door locks with timers and garage doors controlled by smartphone apps. These technologies can offer peace of mind for homeowners who live alone and added independence to anyone with limited mobility.

Lighting 
Motion detecting exterior lights are the most publicized in this category. However, there are also indoor sensors that control lights as you enter and exit a room or open and close pantry doors. And Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs allow you to customize mood lighting throughout the house. These options offer convenience while at home and added security when you’re away.

Appliances 
Virtually all appliances come in smart versions today -- from kitchen scales with built-in recipes to Bluetooth-enabled slow cookers to washers and dryers that let you schedule your laundry loads. These can make housework more manageable for those on a busy schedule.

Assistants 
These smart home tools do more than give you traffic updates. Using IFTTT (If This, Then That) customization, they can create a truly connected home. For example, they can turn on specific lights when your TV comes on or open the garage door when you get within a certain distance of the property. And they allow you to voice-activate many of your smart tech commands.

Smart home devices are also one of the most in-demand features with today’s homebuyers. Installing them could increase your property’s long-term value and marketability. 

If you’re considering a new home, or have questions about your home’s value, get in touch today.

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Colors have the ability to evoke emotions and change our attitudes. They can inspire and motivate us to try something new and bold. They can alter our moods and appetites, or even make a room feel small and cramped. 

If you plan to redecorate a few rooms in the new year, the right color choices can make all the difference in the feeling you’re trying to achieve. Better yet, it’s one of the simplest and most affordable decor changes you can make. Not sure which colors to choose? Here are 2019’s best color palettes for home interiors, according to the Pantone Color Institute:

Meanderings
This palette is a mix of leisurely, rich shades like Island Green, Aurora Red and Wild Orchid. Pulled from diverse cultures, they tell the story of world travel and are great for spaces where you’ll be entertaining guests. 

Proximity
Proximity shows the connection between technology and nature and speaks to the challenges of modern life. These vivid blue-greens, green-blues and silver-grays are perfect for rooms with abundant natural light. 

Cravings
These culinary-inspired hues call to mind delicious tastes and exotic cuisines with colors like Cappuccino, Chili Pepper and Cayenne. This sensory experience is ideal for dining rooms or quiet spaces like reading nooks.

Cherish 
These soothing pastels evoke calm and serenity and are the epitome of comfort. The soft, nostalgic floral tones would be great in a powder room or master bedroom. 

Are you planning a new look for your home? Think of these palettes as a focused road map for capturing your desired style. 

If you’d like some guidance for a more substantial home renovation, or you’re interested in finding a new home this year, please reach out today.

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Buying a home is a big undertaking. From finding the right property and negotiating to sorting out the legal details and moving in, there are dozens of important steps along the way. And for many first-time buyers, it can seem overwhelming. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier, even if you’re still in the planning phase. If you know buying a home is on the horizon, you’ll want to tackle these tasks before you get too far into your search:

1. Get preapproved for your mortgage. 
Research lenders, choose your mortgage company and apply for preapproval. This will give you an idea of what you can afford so we can point you toward homes in the right price range. 

2. Give your budget a test run. 
Once you have a rough estimate of what your monthly payment will be, give that budget a trial run. Are you still able to afford all your monthly bills and expenses? If not, let’s have a chat with your lender to see what the monthly payment could look like if we target a lower price point.  

3. Start saving. 
It’s never too early to start saving up for your down payment and closing costs. Cutting out unnecessary spending and setting up automatic deductions from your paychecks are two easy ways to give your savings a boost.

4. Create a wish list. 
What do you want in your future home? Jot down your must-haves concerning size, location and features. You can also include some deal breakers to help guide you in your search.

Are you looking to buy your first home soon? With the right help, the process will be less overwhelming. Reach out today for step-by-step guidance or a referral to a trusted lender in our area.

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When you buy a pre-owned home, do you know what will come with the house? Do you get to keep all the appliances, the art on the walls or the outdoor pizza oven on the patio?

Determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the previous owner will vary by seller and contract. Here’s how to determine what conveys with the home you’re considering, as well as tips to safeguard yourself when negotiating those extra items.

1. Check the listing. Start at square one and look at the original listing. Hopefully the seller specified the items included in their home’s asking price. 

2. Know the screwdriver rule. For the most part, if it takes a screwdriver to remove, it’s considered a part of the home. This includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail, it’s removable and likely not included in the sale.

3. Negotiate with the seller. If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t part of the listing, we can negotiate with the seller

4. Talk to your lender. If the seller agrees to include big-ticket items, you’ll want to tell your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of loan you have, it could affect the appraisal or change the value of the property. 

So, unless the seller specified the washer and dryer in the listing, you should assume they’re not included. As for the pizza oven? If it’s built into the patio, it’s probably already built into the listing price. 

Have more questions about what’s included with a home? Get in touch today.

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In today’s hot market, bidding wars have become the norm. With many out-of-state buyers and property investors looking for a great deal, all-cash offers are also becoming common. 

A cash offer can seem tempting for sellers since it offers the possibility of a faster closing. But despite this perk, cash buyers don’t always win. Many times, they make low offers or demand costly extras, both of which will mean lost cash for the seller.

Want to boost your chances of getting the home you want when competing with cash buyers? Here are some things to consider:

1. Include a preapproval letter. Get your financial documents in order, find a mortgage lender and get preapproved. Additionally, a note from your lender stating that you’re a well-qualified buyer can go a long way. 

2. Work with a fast-moving lender. Average closing times vary significantly from lender to lender. Choosing one known for fast transactions shows sellers that you’re willing to move at their pace. Get in touch if you’d like a referral to a trusted lender. 

3. Offer more earnest money or a bigger down payment. More money down means you’re serious about purchasing their home, which gives sellers more confidence in your offer.

4. Make an appropriate offer. We’ll discuss local comps to assess the home’s value, allowing you to make a solid bid right off the bat. Low offers are likely to be dismissed without a second glance. 

Are you planning to purchase a new home soon? Get in touch today to discuss the right strategy for your home search. 

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Did you know you can buy your dream home while paying off student loan debt? 

It’s true and even quite common. While student loans are factored into your debt-to-income ratio, they shouldn’t prevent you from becoming a homeowner. 

And fortunately, there are many programs and options available to prospective buyers, some you may not be familiar with. Here are four ways people with student loans achieve their homeownership goals:

1. Co-buying With Friends or Family
Purchasing a home with a roommate, significant other or sibling allows you to combine multiple incomes to qualify for a better mortgage rate. This can help lower your monthly payment and make home maintenance more affordable.

2. Receiving Financial Gifts From Family 
You can also accept gift money from your parents, grandparents or other family members to put toward your home purchase. Some loan programs have a cap on how much gift money can be used, so make sure you know the limits first. 

3. Choosing Low (or No) Down Payment Loans 
There are many low down payment options, including FHA, HomeReady and Home Possible loans. For loans with no down payment, VA loans may be available to veterans and military members as well as USDA loans for those purchasing in rural areas. 

4. Using Assistance Programs 
Down payment assistance programs can cover some or all of your down payment costs if you qualify. These programs vary by location, so talk with a lender to learn about potential options. 

Working on your credit can also help you buy a home. Pay your credit card bills on time every month, aim to pay down your debts and never let an account go into collections. It also helps to get preapproved for a mortgage so you know how much you qualify for. 

If you’re ready to make homeownership a reality or would like a referral to a trusted lender, get in touch today.

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