Blog-Contractors

Top 7 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Regardless of whether your project is a simple bathroom remodel or a complete house renovation, the success or failure of the project will depend on the contractor you hire. Choosing the right contractor is easier than you think, but you have to do your due diligence.

Check their License – Make sure you check their contractor’s license and that it’s in good standing. Ask and check those of the subcontractors as well.

Insurance – Ask for proof of insurance and check that it’s still active and valid.

Check References – Ask for references and call them. Ask to go see a project or two and ask strong questions about timing, quality, responsiveness and cost.

Get it In Writing – Finalize the scope of work before you start anything, in writing. A proper contract should be on letterhead and include clear timelines and benchmarks, as well as payment schedules and how completion will be signed off.

Do not Pay for Materials – If you absolutely have to pay for materials, have them delivered to your property and verify the receipt to show they were delivered in full.

Only Pay the Contractor – Under no circumstances should you make a payment to anyone other than the contractor itself. Do not pay a person, only the company.

Final Payment only When Satisfied – Do not make the final payment until you’re completely satisfied with the result.

Buying and selling

Tips for Buying and Selling at the Same Time

Either buying or selling a home can be extremely stressful, it can be even more overwhelming if one is trying to do both at the same time. The good news is that this happens all the time and by following a few simple tips, both buying and selling can be a seamless process.

Tips for Buying and Selling at the Same Time

The good news is that you’re planning to move any way. Before you list your home for sale, why not start packing now? Take personal items and excess furnishings and pack them up and move them to storage. Not only will your home look larger and neater, you are getting a start on the move.

Next make sure your agent, or agents, understands the timeline and requirements. There are many standard contingencies which can protect you from owning two homes at once, or none at all. Not only can the purchase of your new home be contingent on successfully closing on your current one but you can also reverse the process and ensure you find a replacement before the close as well.

Finally, get the entire family involved. Be excited about the change and create a moving plan in which everyone has a task and there is a plan for the move itself. By taking a few initial steps, moving can be fun and easy.

New Home VS Resale

New Construction vs Resale

 

New construction home developments have sprung up across the country. They show beautiful new designs in both living spaces and exterior details. But there are also good reasons to consider a resale home as well. We’ll explore the benefits of each so you can determine which suits your needs and goals better.

-Brand New Construction Home-

The first advantage for new construction is that everything is new, fresh, modern and includes the latest design trends. Appliances and windows will be energy efficient and include all the newest features. Home buyers will also find no need to budget for repairs since everything is new and should include a warranty.

-Resale Home-

A resale home can offer great value to the home buyers. The home will already have landscaping and upgrades installed, saving out-of-pocket costs. Resale homes also tend to have larger lots in established neighborhoods. Property taxes may also be lower because the infrastructure is already paid for. Both new construction and resales homes have benefits. If you are in the market for a new home, consider the options in your area and compare real costs and benefits. Knowing the difference can save you money and help you find the right home for your needs and lifestyle.

kitchen-mini-tray-ceiling

Kitchen Improvements Under $100

Want to spruce up your kitchen but stuck on a tight budget? Check out the list of improvements you can get started on for under $100. These tips can come in handy when you’re ready to list your home to sell on the market.

1. REFRESH THE SINK:

If your sink is starting to look outdated, find an affordable, yet stylish, replacement. If you have the eye for DIY, you can also purchase some sandpaper and a $4 can of spray paint that is made for metal, and dye it to refresh and brighten the color.

2. HANG A NEW LIGHT FIXTURE

A decorative light fixture doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can generally find some decent ones that are under $100. Go for a chrome finish or choose the rustic route, whichever suits the current decor in your kitchen. You can also add LED lights under your kitchen cabinets for around $10-$20.

3. PAINT THE CABINETS

With care taken in the prep work, you can refinish the paint on your cabinets. You can generally get a kit around $75. Refreshing the paint color or the stain can make your kitchen feel brand new.

4. TURN YOUR FRIDGE INTO A CHALKBOARD

Chalkboard finishes are a hot trend, especially on the fridge! They add more functionality by allowing home owners to write grocery lists, menus, and even to-dos. Use painters tape to outline the shape and size you want to use as the chalkboard then coat it with magnetic primer, then chalkboard paint.

5. REPLACE OUTLET PLATES

Replace the outdated outlet wall plates for your light switches. You can add some character to it by using bold patterns, bright colors, or elegant textures. If they look faded, yellow, or chipped, they’re a cheap fix to replace.

6. CHANGE HARDWARE

Replacing the hardware on your kitchen cabinets and drawers can provide a drastic change to your kitchen. Not only can you get rid of hideous outdated hardware, but you can add a completely new feel to the theme of your kitchen just by updating the hardware throughout it.

7. EXPAND STORAGE

Have empty wall space? Search your local home stores for cute baskets or storage containers you can use to fill the space. Not only can it add some character to your kitchen, it also adds functionality and more storage options. A feature buyers love if you’re thinking of listing your home.

8. DRESS UP YOUR DECOR

Bring some color to your kitchen. Throw out decor that looks like it belongs in the 90’s, rugs that are falling apart, and anything else that weighs down a fresh look. Add in some new rugs and hand towels that match your personality and the theme you’re trying to achieve. You can also add some plants and decorative pieces to add character.

9. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER

The best cleaning tip I can give all of my clients is to remove the clutter. Nothing is a bigger eye sore than too many things. It also messes with the energy in a home. Throw out a lot of things that are taking up too much space. If it’s sentimental, see if you can store it in a new place or even donate it.

1.14.18

Mistakes To Avoid On Your First Buy/Sell

If this the first time you’re considering buying a home, or selling your first purchase, there are a lot of possible challenges you can end up facing. Having the right agent can ensure you’re able to get through these challenges, but since some of the issues are universal, let’s review some mistakes you want to avoid making.

 

1. THE RIGHT PRICE

Pricing a property is a science of it’s own. There are a lot of components and factors, so many small details, that ultimately lead to the value of a home. Although there are a lot of sites with estimates, namely Zillow, the technology uses on online sites to determine property values are simply not accurate. Zillow even states that their numbers can be inaccurate up to a whopping 20%. Without a background as a real estate professional, it’s virtually impossible for a consumer to be able to know the proper components needed to price a home. When you’re purchasing a home, you’re want to find a deal, can lead to stubbornness about what you’re willing to pay and what you think a home is worth. But what you WANT it to be worth is the complete opposite of what it should sell for. If you’re a first time seller, you may want to sell your home for as much as you can squeeze out of it, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately lead to an overpriced home that never sells. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what a home’s value should be. Instead, partner with a real estate agent that truly is working for your best interest, and let them provide you the tools to support home values, so you can place an offer, or price your home, at a number that makes sense.

 

2. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE

If you go into a sale, or purchase, refusing to make negotiations, hard-set on what you want without exception, you’re more than likely going to cause a lot of grief and stress for yourself during the sales process. When you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you have to have an open mind about negotiations. They are a common practice within the industry, with buyers wanting to spend less and sellers wanting to net more. If neither party is willing to make negotiations, you’ll find yourself in a contract time and time again, only to fall apart before you can finally close on the home. Having a great agent will help you ensure you make negotiations that are reasonable to lead both parties to the closing table, without compromising you.

 

3. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Although we all have an idea in our mind what our dream home should be, sometimes the market, and your budget, don’t fit realistically into check marking everything off of your list. Find an agent that helps you look for the most important needs in your dream house, but keep an open mind to a home that fits most of your needs, but not necessarily all of them. Having too many expectations within a home can become stressful and result in never finding a home that really matches your needs. If a home has the major components you are seeking, get creative and see if the other things you want can be added down the road. Have a certain number of non-negotiable items, like bedroom/bathroom count, but then have a list of “wants.”

4. YOU’RE NOT ALONE, DON’T GO IT ALONE

Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle the sales process all on your own. There is a reason that the real estate profession, and the laws around it, are as strong as ever. Real estate agents are a necessity during the sales process to ensure the right steps are taken to get a home sold. Buying and selling is a difficult process that requires knowledge and expertise that comes from a professional within the industry. From legal terms, to finding homes that aren’t even listed on the market, there are a lot of ins and outs un-experienced buyers and sellers may not think about, which can lead to losing value on your home or never finding the right one. Avoid the stress of “learning the hard way” and find a professional that can give you the guidance you need to get the task at hand completed and ensure you’re happy with the outcome.

Credit

Tips to Raise Your Credit Score

Tips to Raise Your Credit Score Buying a new home is an exciting time. It can also be stressful if you are unsure about your credit or know that your credit is not as high as you’d like it to be. Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in how much of a home loan you can qualify for and the interest rate you’ll pay. The good news is there are easy ways to increase your credit score. By following a few tips, you can make sure your report accurately reflects your use of credit and create a plan to improve your scores if necessary.

• Check for Errors – Errors on a credit report is very common. Make sure that everything is current and accurate.

• Pay Down Credit Card Debt – One of the easiest ways to boost your score is to lower your credit card balances. Aim to have no more than 50% of available credit in use.

• Remove Negative Accounts – If you have old collections or bad debt, negotiate with the creditor to pay some/all of the debt in exchange for removing the record.

• Keep Old Accounts Open – About 15% of your score has to do with how long you’ve had credit accounts.

• Pay on Time – This might sound simple, but always pay your bills on time.

• Consider a Bankruptcy – If you’re really in over your head, it might be time to take a step back and declare bankruptcy. This resets the clock and allows you to plan for a future purchase.

Credit issues do not have to last forever. By understanding what affects your credit, you can make real changes which will increase your score.

Blog 1.2

The Catch You Shouldn’t Fall For

With the growth of online tools, companies are quickly building products to serve the real estate community. After all, it’s a lucrative industry, home buying and selling will always be a thing – even if it does slow down, and companies around the world are diving in to make as much money off consumers as possible.

What are they selling? The ease. The ease of buying or selling a home online. The catch? You actually don’t benefit from these online quick-sale services. In fact, you could find yourself out of tens-of-thousands in cost difference. If you’re in the market to buy or sell, and are considering foregoing a real estate agent for an online service, be sure you read the fine print. You’ll often times find that you aren’t benefiting at all. Will they buy your home upfront to resale, so you don’t have to worry about the headache? Sure, but you may have been able to get $50,000 more for your house using a Realtor. Can you see and purchase your dream home through said services and “save” on agent commissions? Sure, but you’ll probably be overpaying for the home anyway.

The real estate industry is heavily regulated for licensed professionals to ensure the consumer is always getting the best representation for the best savings. These online services don’t require regulation and licensing, therefore, they can get away with fine print “scams.”

Be sure you do your research. I am is here to make YOU the most money. Quick online services are focused on making their business the most money – not focused on how much you can sell your home for or how much you can save when you buy. Licensed professionals exist for a reason, be sure you don’t lose more than you can afford to by using a gimmicky online service that dubs buying and selling an “easy” process. Any good agent will make the process easy, minus general lending issues that may arise.

shutterstock_345590696

You’re Making Your Landlord Rich!

While you’re fussing over your bills, did you realize you’re making your landlord rich? Rentals are the most lucrative business to get into. It turns ordinary people into multi-millionaires. The next time you’re afraid of committing to a mortgage, keep in mind that you’ve already committed to paying off the mortgage of someone else – every single month you rent. The only time home buying doesn’t make sense is if you’re still living with your parents rent-free. Or you prefer to live out of an R.V. or tent. But if you prefer to live in a home, or a condo, it always makes the most sense to buy.

Stop making your landlord rich and start building your own net worth. You can still enjoy owning a home – even if you don’t intend to stay in an area for long. You can always resell your home, most often for more money than you put in, or turn it into a lucrative side business by hiring a property management company to rent it out on your behalf. Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid of a mortgage commitment – you’re paying one regardless. Now ask yourself, do you want to make yourself money or make your landlord money?

Blog 11-27-18

Tips To Get Settled In A New Home

Moving into a new home? We know how exciting it can be! We’ve compiled a list of a few things you can do after your move to make sure your experience is comfortable. The hardest part of a move is getting settled in, after that, let’s handle a few loose ends that sometimes get forgotten about till the last minute.

CHECK MAJOR APPLIANCES

Be sure to check all the appliances to ensure everything is still in working order after the move. You want to make sure nothing was broken in the move or stopped working suddenly. Look at things such as your stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer, refrigerator, and microwave. If you brought any appliances yourself and you used movers, you’ll want to make sure everything still works with them, since mover’s insurance companies give a limited time frame for when you can make a claim.

CHECK ALL OF YOUR BOXES & FURNITURE

Be sure to go over all your boxes and furniture to make sure nothing got damaged during the move. Be sure that everyone has arrived and didn’t get lost in the process. If you notice something is missing a month later, it may be too late to file a claim with the moving company. Even if you don’t plan on unpacking everything as soon as you move in, just do a quick review and inventory everything you brought to protect yourself and your belongings.

SET UP UTILITIES

Did you remember to set up your utilities before moving in? There’s nothing more frustrating than moving into your home to realize the lights don’t work. Make sure you’ve gotten with all of the necessary utility companies to have everything turned on in time for your move.

REGISTER INTO A GOOD SCHOOL

You may have already known to look for a school for your kids prior to your move, but if you haven’t yet found one, be sure to research all the schools local to you to find the right fit for your family. The sooner you can find the right school and register, the easier and less stressful it will be to get them in and settle.

REGISTER YOUR CAR

If you’ve moved to a new state or country, you’ll want to make sure to register your car in your new hometown and update your driver’s license, tags, and plates.

CONNECT TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Join sites like Nextdoor.com or get a subscription to your local magazine/newspaper to stay in touch with what’s going on in your neighborhood. Be sure to also join local community Facebook groups. You can find out about events or concerns relating to your community.

GETTING YOUR MAIL

Have you updated your address from all the people you’ll be expecting to get mail from? Like your bank, friends, family, and services you still pay for after your move. Check with the post office to have things redirected to your new address while you work to update your info with everyone else.

 

FIND THE RIGHT PROFESSIONALS

If you’re moving far from your last home, you’ll want to have the right connections. Find a new doctor, dentist, vet, handyman, plumber, etc. Add them into a contact book that’s easily accessible.

EMERCENY CONTACT LIST

If you’re moving to a new country, 911 won’t be the local emergency number. Make sure you have all the correct numbers in the case of an emergency. This can also include doctors, the local police station, a vet, etc.

INSURANCE COMPANIES

More than likely, you handled home insurance and home warranty during the purchasing process. If you haven’t, be sure to get those taken care of right away. You’ll also want to get your auto, health, and any other necessary household insurances sorted for your move.

IMG_1788

Thanksgiving Home Décor Ideas

With all the holidays coming, who doesn’t love decorating?!! Here are a couple tips to help you with your fall décor!

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. While the standard pumpkins and scented candles are a nice touch, there are so many other options for decorating a home for Thanksgiving. Consider these interesting and unusual touches to bring a fall feel to your home.

• Colorful Leaves – In most parts of the country, there are piles of fall leaves in the front yard. There are a huge variety of uses for these bright leaves. Gather some to use on the dining room table, inside candle hurricanes or scatter along the mantle.

• Natural Elements – Decorations don’t need to be so obvious. Consider using driftwood, acorns and pinecones to add a fall flavor to your home décor.

• Fall Fruit – Lemons placed in a bowl have long been a staple in spring and summertime staging. In fall and winter, change the lemons to a variety of colors of apples. Everything from red to green and everything in between adds a seasonal tone to the kitchen.

• Pillows and Throws – There’s no rule that says that one needs to keep the same pillows and throws throughout the home all year around. Consider fall/winter colors and themes to add interest to living rooms, bedrooms and dens.