Posted by Peggy Farber on 2/21/2018

People often talk about boosting the value of their home with various improvements. But it is seldom that you hear anyone talk about the unforeseen factors that devalue their home. Furthermore, there are some fluctuations in a home's market value or appraisal value that are out of the homeowner's hands. In this post, we'll break down some of the broader aspects of home value and determine which "improvements" will serve you best in the long run. We'll also point out the red flags that are sure to devalue a home on the market.

Location

Few things so greatly affect the value of your home as location. If you happened to buy a house in Brooklyn Heights a couple decades ago its value has probably gone up exponentially since then due to the high demand of living in a trendy part of New York. Aside from living in the hippest neighborhood, people choose their home based on other location factors. Schools, hospitals, shopping centers, vicinity to highways or public transportation may all play a big role for many people. Location factors that will negatively affect the value of your home are high or increasing crime rates, economic decline (boarded up stores aren't very appealing to home buyers), a high incidence of registered sex offenders nearby, and neighbors that have unkempt homes or hoard junk in their yards. Other location factors are harder to sniff out. With the exception city dumps or waste processing centers--which you won't have any trouble smelling--having undesirable places like power plants or noisy freeways in your neighborhood can also devalue your home.

Inside the home

Home improvements are a great way to increase the value of your home--as long as those improvements meet a few criteria. Any changes you make should be legal and up to code. Potential buyers do not want the liability of illegal home improvements, nor can they ensure that the job was safely done and doesn't put them and their family at risk. Your improvements should also be up to social standards and changing tastes. Yes, we all have our own preferences when it comes to paint colors and home decorations. But when trying to sell a home it's important that it doesn't look like a time capsule from the 70s, rife with wood panels and shag carpets. When it comes to home repairs many homeowners elect to put off big projects because they are daunting and time consuming. Instead they focus on surface level improvements that might not do much to improve the value of their home. If you have plumbing that needs to be replaced, deteriorating flooring, or faulty heating and ventilation, make sure you take care of those before putting your home on the market.

Ask the pros

If buying or selling a home is in your foreseeable future, one great way to get a jump on your research is to consult a real estate agent and a building contractor to learn more about your area's own unique market values. This will give you a head start on making changes to your home and will tip you off on what to look out for when home hunting.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 2/14/2018

Let's face it – homebuyers constantly compete with one another, especially if a new home is added to the real estate market that fulfills the requests of a large assortment of homebuyers in a particular area. Thus, you'll want to do whatever you can to gain a competitive advantage over other homebuyers, as this competitive edge will enable you to discover the right home quickly and efficiently. So what does it take to obtain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals? Here are three tips to help you gain a competitive edge over homebuyers in any real estate market: 1. Act Fast. The early bird catches the worm, and the same holds true for homebuyers who want to find the best homes in a competitive real estate segment. Homebuyers who act quickly are more likely to find great homes as soon as new residences hit the real estate market. Also, these homebuyers will be in an ideal position, one that enables them to check out a recently listed home quickly and make an offer without delay if a residence meets their needs. Study the real estate market carefully, and you'll be better equipped to make a move on a recently listed house faster than other homebuyers. Also, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage, as this will enable you to submit an offer without having to worry about committing extensive time and resources to get approved for a mortgage down the line. 2. Offer More Than the Asking Price. What can you do to ensure your offer stands out to a home seller? Offer more than the asking price for a residence, and you can improve your chances of securing your dream home. In the event that a home seller receives multiple offers for his or her residence, offering more than the initial asking price will help your offer stand out from others. Therefore, you'll be able to reduce the risk that you could miss out on your ideal house if you submit an offer that exceeds a home seller's asking price. 3. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent. When it comes to finding your dream home, why should you be forced to leave anything to chance? Instead, hire an experienced real estate agent, and you'll be able to enjoy a long-lasting competitive edge over other homebuyers. Typically, a real estate agent will possess extensive industry know-how and experience, ensuring that he or she can help you find your perfect residence immediately. This professional also will be ready to respond to any concerns or queries and ensure you are fully supported during every step of the homebuying process. From determining your ideal budget for a new home to setting up home showings, a real estate agent can make it easier for you to check out many wonderful residences in cities and towns nationwide. As a result, hiring a real estate agent could mean the difference between settling for an average house and discovering your dream residence in any real estate market. Gain the competitive edge you need in any real estate market, and you should be able to make an offer on your dream home instantly.




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 2/7/2018

When you’re buying a home, there’s a lot to think about. Your finances probably have the biggest impact in the entire home search process. The amount of a down payment you have and the amount of loan you’re approved for help decide what you can buy. 


When you hear about closing costs, what do they entail? How much will you need to cover these costs? Many people get to the closing table for their home purchase and feel unprepared. You’ll need a certain amount of cash on hand when you finally close on a home. Learn more about closing costs, so that you understand everything that you need to know about your home purchase.    


Closing costs are spelled out pretty plainly in just about every kind of real estate contract. These costs are the fees associated with the title companies, attorney, banks, lenders and everyone else who is involved in the purchase of a home. The closing table is also the time when you provide your sizable down payment. The closing costs that are being referred to are considered a separate expense independent of the closing costs.


Closing Costs Vary


Closing costs can range from anywhere between 2 and 8 percent of the purchase price of the home. You can’t really “choose” what’s included in the closing, so you’ll need to have an idea of how much money you’ll need to write a check for. Lenders can give you an estimate of about how much closing costs will be. 


Negotiations 


Certain things like the realtor’s commission fees can be negotiated and can be paid for by the buyer or the seller. The good news is that you can roll your closing fees in with your mortgage in some cases. You may also be able to negotiate with your lender to pay the closing costs for you in exchange for a higher interest rate. 


What’s Included In Closing Costs?


Depending upon where and what type of home you’re buying, what the closing costs actually cover varies. Here’s just some of the things that closing costs cover:


  • Appraisal
  • Escrow fees
  • Credit reports
  • Title search
  • Title exam fee
  • Survey fee
  • Courier fee (Most transactions are done electronically, but in some cases this may be necessary)
  • Title insurance
  • Owner’s title insurance
  • Natural hazards disclosure
  • Homeowner’s insurance (Your first year of insurance is often paid at closing)
  • Buyer’s attorney fee
  • Lender’s attorney fee
  • Transfer taxes
  • Recording fees
  • Processing fees
  • Underwriting fee
  • Pre-paid interest
  • Pest inspections
  • Homeowner's association transfer fees
  • Special assessments


These fees vary widely by state and the type of property that you’re purchasing. Not every fee is required, but the above is just a list of many of the possible fees that could be included in on the closing of the home you choose.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 1/31/2018

If you were to look at a photo of a suburban neighborhood from the 1950s and one from today, you would notice many similarities. The houses have gotten much larger, but they still have perfectly manicured lawns and milky white fences. American culture has come a long way since the days of nuclear families. An emphasis on conservation and environmentalism has added recycling bins to many of our homes. But by and large our backyards remain mostly unchanged. Some people are electing to deviate from those norms to make their homes and yard more eco-friendly. Part of that change has been to adapt natural landscaping techniques that make your backyard seem less chiseled-out and more a part of its natural environment. With proper planning and care, natural landscaping can give your yard both a modern and natural look, and it won't look messy or overgrown. Here are some tips to get you started on natural landscaping in your backyard.

Native planting

A big part of natural landscaping is understanding your local plant life. Planting flora that is native to your area is not only helping your yard look more natural but also helping your local plant and wildlife. Often we bring in "exotic" plants and flowers without understanding the ecological issues that can arise from invasive species, both on other plants as well as on the local animals. So what are some ways you could alter your yard to house more local plant life? That depends entirely on your taste and on your local flora. If you live in a coastal, warm area, you might choose a sand or shell path in your yard that leads through tall grasses. If you live inland it might make more sense to choose stones or pebbles for your walkway and a variety of shrubs, flowers, and grasses for around the yard.

Lawn dividers

You won't find any white picket fences naturally occurring in the woods. But nature has its own barriers that can be adapted for use around your property. Vines, trees, bushes, and even rocks can all be used as natural barriers. People have used rock walls to mark of their property for centuries, and for good reason: they last forever (with some occasional maintenance) and they compliment the natural environment of your yard.

Make your lawn livable

Your lawn should be hospitable for your plants, your local wildlife, and for you. Using natural wooden benches, tree swings, and maintained paths will make your backyard look like the walkthrough gardens that we see in old English manor houses. But you should also keep in mind the birds, bugs, and other animals that will frequent your yard. By not using chemical insecticides or weed killers you're already helping your local wildlife thrive. But you can attract even more birds by setting inconspicuous feeders in the trees around your yard.

What's to gain from natural landscaping?

Aside from looking nice, natural landscaping has countless other benefits. When you're growing plants native to your area you know the plants are predisposed to grow well in your yard. That means less maintenance, watering, and less money spent buying replacements for dead plants. You'll be helping the local wildlife fit in, and you'll be helping yourself by giving your yard a refreshing, natural look.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 1/24/2018

Your home is your castle, your oasis, your domain. You want your home to be an escape from the stresses of everyday life. For this to be true, there are a few key things that you should have in your home for you to enjoy the ultimate peace that home can bring. If you don’t feel that your home is a peaceful place, you definitely need to heed the tips below. 


Have A Peaceful Spot To Relax In 


Every homeowner needs a place that they like to relax in. Your spot in the home should be a regular part of your routine whether it’s where you like to drink coffee and read the news, a meditation room, or a home gym. Whatever gives you pleasure and an escape should be a priority in your home and your routine. You don’t need a lot of space to accomplish this. Just a small nook in part of a room or a dedicated room in the house will do. It’s easy to create your own little piece of heaven.   


Nice Outdoor Space


Nothing brings peace to the mind and the soul like spending time in nature. For a tranquil escape right in your own home, make use of the outdoors. Do you have a deck or patio area? Can you put a hammock up in the backyard? What about a small bench swing? Any of these simple things can be your backyard oasis. Just be sure to surround these outdoor areas with colorful plants and other relaxing touches like rocks, trees, or even a running water fountain for an added effect.       


A Place To Separate Work And Home Life


If you work outside of the office at all, you probably have a home office space. You need this to be functional for your work, but you also need to remember the importance of separating your work life from your home life. Your home can’t be a tranquil place to be if you feel you’re always carrying your work around with you.  


A Place For Inspiration


Most of all, your home should be inspiring. There should be areas of your home where you can sit and think about projects you’re working on, problems you’re facing, or just simply let your thoughts flow. For inspiration, you’ll want to include inspiring images, pictures of the people you love, and items that make you plain happy. Your home is one place that helps you to keep the balance in your life. Make sure that you create the relaxing space that you deserve for a happier life!




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