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5 Tips for Buyers

1. Get your credit in shape. If you plan to finance your home purchase, check your credit history, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. That way, you can correct any errors, and take measures to boost your credit score. Order one free credit report a year from annualcreditreport.com

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Early in your search, meet with a mortgage lender who will take a loook at your credit history, your savings and investment statements and your current financial situation, and give you a better picture of what you can afford and the financing options available.

3. Establish your budget. Whether you’re financing your purchase or paying cash, it helps to establish a budget. This will help you focus your search on great homes within your price range.

4. Make a list. Buying a home is a process of elimination, not a process of selection. Make a list of your ideal home’s must haves and deal breakers. This will help you to narrow your search so that you can find a home that fits your current and future needs.

5. Think about resale. The average homeowner lives in their home for nine years. While you may purchase your home as a long term investment, keep in mind that you may need to sell it one day. Consider the homes resale value when you’re looking at properties.

7 Seller Tips: How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

1. Prepare your home for the buyer: When buyers look at your home, they must be able to imagine themselves living there. Buyers have an emotional response when they enter your home. Use their emotions to work for you. The first impression is the decision maker for a buyer, so give them the feeling that they are “home.” Here are few tried and true tips for making a good first impression.

  • Is the outside of your home inviting? Consider staging the exterior of your home.
  • Tour your home as though you were a buyer, what do you notice? So will buyers.
  • De-clutter. Clutter takes focus away from your home and makes space look cramped.
  • Hire a professional cleaning company to keep dust and dirt away.
  • Pets can often be the anti-sale. If you are planning an open house, find a pet hotel for the day.
  • A bright and well-lit room is a must for buyers. Maximize the light in you home.
  • De-personalize your home so buyers can feel like it is their home. Remove family photos, religious decor and kitschy memorabilia.

2. Price it right: We know the goal is to make as much money as possible, but make sure your property is priced appropriately. If your property is priced too high, it will sit stagnant and develop an identity as a problem property. If priced too low, it could cost you considerable profits. Obtain a comparative market analysis of recently sold properties relevant to your home’s size, location and condition. Knowledgeable interpretation of this information, in conjunction with current absorption rates and your time frame, will determine the appropriate asking price for your home.

3. Don’t over upgrade: Small repairs and fresh paint always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. Many large expensive remodeling projects simply don’t pay off when sell your home, so don’t expect to recoup the entire cost of the remodel. Instead, do small projects and inexpensive updates that will help you get top dollar for your home. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, leaky faucets etc. Clean the grout, plant flowers and look for any other opportunities to give your home a quick face lift.

4. Make your home extremely available: Selling a home is inconvenient. No one will deny it can be one of the most stressful times in your life. The pain can be minimized (by lessening the amount of time your home is on the market) if you follow these simple rules.

  • Allow the Realtor to take as many high-quality photos as possible to advertise your home.
  • Put a lockbox on the property with set showing times that are easy for Realtors. Between 10am and 7pm is usually sufficient.
  • Be flexible. Remember, selling your home is inconvenient.
  • Take advantage of Broker tours which will allow Realtors to preview your property before bringing their client through your home. This will help reduce “lookie-loos.”

5. Don’t forget your neighbors: Your neighbors want good neighbors. Chances are they may even have friends or family that would like to live in the neighborhood. So let them help choose their next neighbor by getting them involved in the sale of your home. Once you’ve listed your home, invite your neighbors to your open house and use social media posts to mention your home for sale. There are so many ways to instantly network online and you would be amazed at how quickly a neighbor could create demand for your home.

6. Be aware of your rights and obligations: The laws and regulations of real estate can be complex if you are uninformed or you do not understand your rights and responsibilities. A contract for the sale of your property is legally binding and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you are unaware of what you are signing, you can run into some very serious and expensive problems. Make sure you look at any issues that affect title which can prohibit a sale until resolved. Your Realtor should be a valuable and knowledgeable resource and can refer you to a licensed real estate attorney if necessary. If you have questions, get answers.

7. Trust your agent: Selecting the right agent is extremely important. Competence and experience will mean the difference between a higher negotiated sales price and the loss of money. Once you identify the agent you want to use to list your home, based on their experience in your area, listen to their recommendations. Trust is key.

Football Season Got You Craving a Man Cave Makeover

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Did You Know Smoke Alarms Expire?

I didn’t. But my good friend and contractor extraordinaire, Scott Blackketter of Blackketter Craftsmen, filled me in. He shared this great article from AllStateBlog:

Most of us pay attention to expiration dates on food and medical prescriptions. But, have you ever considered the expiration date of a smoke alarm? Yes, these potentially life-saving devices have lives of their own and expire after about 10 years or 87,000 hours of service.

However, that’s something that’s not widely known. A recent national survey conducted by First Alert revealed that 72 percent of Americans are not aware that smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years. If you neglect replacing your alarms, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.

I’m encouraging everyone to make sure their home is equipped with working smoke alarms – the key word being “working.”

The fact is, even if you have smoke alarms installed at home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you haven’t maintained them. According to the Houston Fire Department, an estimated 30 percent of all residential fires responded to are in homes without a smoke alarm (or they have a non-working smoke alarm). Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Smoke Alarm Maintenance

To ensure that alarms are functioning properly, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends testing devices monthly. If you cannot recall when your alarms were installed, it’s best to be safe and replace the units. Additionally, many experts suggest replacing alarm batteries twice a year.

Smoke Alarm Placement

It’s also important to make sure your home is equipped with the proper number of alarms. According to the NFPA, 66 percent of U.S. households are not in compliance with the recommended number of smoke alarms. To ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and fire, install smoke alarms in every bedroom or sleeping area and on every level of the home, including basements. So, an average two-story, three-bedroom house would need a minimum of four smoke alarms.

Smoke Alarm Types

If your home is in need of new smoke alarms, there is a wide selection of options and features from which to choose, ranging from combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to smoke alarms with escape lights. Alarms that feature voice alerts may be helpful in homes with children. Studies show that children, particularly those between the ages of six and 10, awaken more readily to a human voice, so this technology provides an increased level of safety.

Among the latest innovations at First Alert are our new Maximum Protection Alarms, which feature a patented smoke entry system that allows smoke to have a more direct path to the photoelectric sensor. This advanced technology helps to prevent false alarms ( and the dangerous but all-too-frequent practice of silencing these “nuisance alarms” by removing the batteries.

Fire Safety Tips

To further protect your home from the threats of smoke and fire, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following fire safety tips:

  • Prior to cold weather months, inspect and service all heating appliances. Only use space heaters with a switch or sensor that automatically shuts them off if they tip over or over-heat, and do not store or place any items that may catch fire within 36 inches of the heater.
  • Celebrate the holiday season safely. Check labels to ensure artificial trees and decorations are noncombustible. If you’re using a real tree, keep it away from flammable sources, such as heat vents or fire places. Thoroughly examine lights for frayed or exposed wires before hanging on a tree, and use a surge protector to help prevent overloading electrical outlets.
  • Outdoor burning is illegal in the Houston area. Consider alternative ways to dispose of waste including recycling, composting, mulching, logging and landfills.

As the holiday season ramps up, and we all start to spend more time indoors, remember to check on the operating condition of your smoke alarms and to maintain and replace them, as needed. These are life-saving devices and practices that can make a real difference.

Read Full Article: AllStateBlog

Condos – Must Know Information When Buying

The on-air interview

Thinking of buying a condo? Here is a discussion of things you must know before considering a condo for purchase. I discussed this topic with Mike Murillo of WTOP. You can listen to the interview in it’s entirety by clicking on the WTOP logo at left.

If you’re thinking condo living is right for you give me a call and we can discuss this further in person.

This Week’s Featured Listing – Single Family Home at the Parklands- Move in Ready!

I’ll be holding it open this Sunday, September 7, 2014 from 1-3 pm.

To view full photo gallery of this home click on the image below:

113 Forest Preserve Drive Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Presenting NV Homes’ coveted Dartmouth Model at the new vibrant Parklands community.  This stunning home was built with over $200,000 in upgrades including Five Bedrooms, Four Full Plus One Half Baths within a luxurious, approximately 5,000 square foot finished open floor plan on three levels. With a chef’s dream gourmet open kitchen,  home office, formal living room, formal dining room, family room, bonus recreational room, fully finished basement with entertainment wet bar, custom built deck, attached two car garage and much more this home truly has it all. Located with easy access to major commuter routes and public transportation this home also offers easy commuting options. Attractively priced, this home delivers the luxuries that come with new construction but without the wait. Move in today and begin enjoying the conveniences of daily living that this home, community and locale offer.

Use Plants to Your Advantage

Amazing Ideas That Will Make Your Home Cool And Fun

Understairs Storage

Ping Pong Door

Beer Bottle Chandelier

The Aquarium Bed

Cinema at the Backyard

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While Some Homes are Snatched Up in the D.C. Area Others Sit…Why?

The on-air interview

Why are some homes languishing on the market while others get snatched up in days if not hours. Why is that and what can you do about it? This was the topic I discussed with Mike Murillo at WTOP News. You can listen to the discussion in it’s entirety by clicking on the link at left.

Awesome Doggy Shower Ideas for Pet Owners

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