Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Here are the best places to buy and sell houses

Top sellers' markets today are largely in the West, where inventories are low and demand and jobs are strong. Sellers in these markets have the most negotiating power, and final sale prices generally come in at or above asking. Full Article

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Tips to Sell Your House in the Fall

Although the real estate business tends to slow down in the fall, the season still can be an attractive time to put a home on the market. If you want to sell your house in the next few months, it can be done.
Potential buyers—such as empty nesters orMillennials who aren’t worried about moving after the school year has started—will compete for fewer homes on the market and will likely want to seal a deal before the holiday season kicks into high gear.
Here are three tips to help make your home more attractive in autumn, so you can sell your house before winter comes. Full Article 

1.  Clean Up

As many regions slowly shift from a sellers’ market to a moderate or buyers’ market, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your house look its best.
Pay particular attention to eliminating clutter and safety hazards that can crop up with cooler weather:
  • Make sure your yard, walkways and gutters are free of leaves and debris.
  • Mow your lawn so it looks neat.
  • Trim trees so unexpected winds don’t knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt anybody.
  • If it is rainy, be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.
  • If you already have snow, be sure stairs and walkways leading to your front door are not icy.
  • Wash decks and wipe down windows so they sparkle instead of appear streaked by rain.
  • Vacuum and wash down the fireplace, especially if it hasn’t been used in months.
  • If you live in a region where it’s still warm enough to use the patio, make sure the area is inviting and arranged with the views from indoors in mind.
  • Above all, make sure your doorway and the rest of the house is clear from knick knacks, bicycles and toys that make your home appear cluttered.

2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal

If your house’s exterior looks drab, you may want to consider painting it a warm color,planting seasonal flowers, or placing pumpkins strategically along your walkup to accent your home’s appeal with instant color.
Potential buyers will make an instant judgment when they see your home, and you want to be sure it’s positive.
While you don’t want to go overboard with fall decorations that detract from the home itself, a few displays like a festive front-door wreath—and lighting so people can clearly see the path to your front door—can make your home feel fresh, even in the fall.

3. Keep the House Cozy

Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. So warm up your home with a fresh coat of paint and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
Another way to warm up a home is with light, especially as days get shorter leading into winter. Be sure to open blinds and curtains so plenty of light illuminates the home’s interior.
A few embellishments like red, orange or golden yellow pillows can breathe new life into dull sofa—or a fall centerpiece can highlight a certain area of the home.
While you don’t want your home to look like the latest department store display, well-chosen embellishments that give potential buyers the impression you’ve paid attention to the fine details and taken care of any problems with the home will help you put your best face forward.
And remember, there’s nothing wrong with trying to sweeten the deal with the comforting aroma of a freshly-baked, cinnamon-laced apple pie or pumpkin cupcake to leave a lasting impression of your home as the potential buyer takes a bite.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Home Buying 101: First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide

There are so many things to consider when buying your first home. Do you need a real estate agent (I’ll go on the record and answer that with a firm “yes”)? How do you choose a neighborhood? How do you put in a fair and reasonable offer without paying too much? How do you get a mortgage? What type of mortgage should you get? Should you get a home inspection? How much money will you need once you own the home? Full Article

All great questions. All of which I had no idea how to answer the first time I bought a home.
But you, lucky reader, don’t have to be as ill-informed as I was. Nope. You can have those and many other questions answered by the new Home Buying 101 guide from the Quicken Loans Zing Blog. It’s the first in a series of guides for homeowners  that will help you make important decisions, when you need to make them.

Home Buying 101 is offered as a Slideshare (below) and as a PDF that you can view, download and print, if so desired.

The beautifully-designed guide takes you through the entire process, from beginning to end, and includes all kinds of great info such as a first-time home buyer glossary, some quizzes to help test your knowledge, and even some common abbreviations used in the real estate industry.
The 2014 home buying season is just around the corner. As soon as our lovely nation thaws from the worst winter since the Ice Age (I’m looking out the window at snow piles that are taller than me), Americans will begin buying and selling homes like nobody’s business. Mortgage rates are still near historic lows and home values are on the rise across the country. It’s a perfect recipe for a great home buying season, and our guide will help you be prepared.
Check out our guide and let us know what you think. Did we miss something? Let us know and we’ll add it. We promise. Happy home hunting!

Friday, September 19, 2014

September Home Maintenance Checklist

Ever wondered why "fall cleaning" isn't as popular as "spring cleaning." The air on brisk September mornings inspires us to button up the home in preparation for cooler days and longer nights. Full Article 

Add weatherstripping to doors and windows:Weatherstripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong.
Check storm windows:If you have storm windows that are cracked or dirty, repair and clean them now — prior to autumn installation.
Fight winter with plywood:Find a couple of scrap sheets of plywood and set them aside. When the weatherman predicts a cold snap, set the boards against the exterior basement vents on whichever side of your house bears the brunt of your prevailing weather patterns. This bit of scrappiness could help prevent frozen pipes. Be sure to remove the boards once the weather warms up — those vents are there for a reason.

Insulation speculation:This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in an older home. You can purchase unbacked or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. If you are adding batted insulation to a spot that has none, remember that the foil-backed side is the vapor barrier, and it must face the heated area.
Check gutters:Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear — they'll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves.
Keep mice out: September inspires nesting in mice as well as humans. Mice are looking for a winter home now, and that newly insulated attic would be just the spot. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and that there are no gaps underneath garage doors. If you are careless about leaving doors and windows open this time of year, you'll be setting mousetraps later. Pet doors are another favorite access point for rodents.
Caulk exterior: Think of caulk as weatherstripping in a tube. Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls. Carefully read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don't forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls.
Got wood?:If you have a wood stove, it's not too early to lay in a supply of firewood. Though most of us buy whatever's local, bear in mind that soft woods like fir and cedar burn faster and create hazardous creosote in the chimney, thus requiring more system maintenance and more wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners. Wood piles attract insect and animal pests, so stack wood away from the house. Wood dries best when it's protected from rain and has air circulating around it, so under the roof of a wall-less carport would be an ideal wood storage spot.
Clean dryer vent: This is another one of those tasks that should be on your to-do list every six months. Scoot your clothes dryer away from the wall, unplug it, and vacuum behind it. (If it's a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply to the dryer at the appliance shutoff valve.) Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from the tube as you can. Grab a shop vacuum, go outside, and tackle the outside dryer vent as well.
Inspect your roof and chimney: If your roof isn't too steep, and isn't covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves. Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can't get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings — many leaks originate in these spots. Some patches and roofing cement now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.