6 Things to do Before Downsizing

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Downsizing certainly comes with its fair share of challenges, but the payoff can be very rewarding. And there are plenty of reasons to downsize – becoming empty nesters, saving money on monthly payments, or change in family dynamic are just a few. Here are 6 things to do before downsizing.

6 Things to do Before Downsizing

Set Goals with Your Family

One of the top things to do before downsizing is to set goals with your family. Before you begin looking for smaller homes, it’s best to sit down with your family and think about everyone’s wants and needs. Is your move about bringing your family closer? What are some things you can’t or don’t want to sacrifice in a smaller space? Setting goals with your family to get on the same page and make the process of downsizing go as smoothly as possible.

De-Clutter

Spend some time de-cluttering before you begin packing up your home. Go room by room organizing your things into keep, throw, donate, and sell piles. Organizing before you move will prevent you from having to move all the items you don’t want, saving time and energy for you on moving day. If you’re downsizing significantly, de-cluttering should leave your current closets feeling a bit bare.

Sell Items

If you have a lot of items to sell, consider holding a garage or yard sale or finding neighborhood resale groups on social media. Since there’s a chance some of your current furniture won’t fit in a smaller space, you might decide to put the money you make from selling items towards new more function items. The items left over after the garage sale can be donated.

Plan Ahead

It’s good to start planning out the space once you decide you’re moving. Map out which kids are sharing what room, who gets which closet, and sketch furniture arrangements so you have a plan before moving day. Planning ahead can help prevent moving items twice and taking up valuable energy on moving day.

De-Dupe

As part of the moving process, get rid of anything you have multiples of. For example, no one needs two can openers, four cutting board, or two blocks of knives. Getting rid of these things as you pack will help eliminate the boxes you need to move.

Communicate

Clearly communicating with your extended family will help them respect and understand your new lifestyle. If you usually host the large family thanksgiving, communicate that that tradition may need to shift. If you’re short on space, suggest to family members that they skip the toys for presents and instead buy them an experience.

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5 Secrets to Sell Your Home Faster

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Selling your home quickly not only allows you to wrap up that part of your life, it also means fewer days of keeping your home pristine and receiving the funds faster. Here are 5 secrets to sell your home faster, no matter when you list it.

5 Secrets to Sell Your Home Faster

Take Great Photos

Since almost 50% of buyers start their home search online, it’s important that you market your home with professional photos. This means investing in a professional photographer to photograph your home, or buying a DSLR so you can do them your self. If you choose to take your own photos, be sure to pay attention to cleanliness of the home, lighting, angles, and staging. All of the play a factor is producing photos that help sell your home faster.

Depersonalize Your Home

It may be difficult, but remove all of your family photos and memorabilia. You want furniture in the home to help potential buyers envision their life in your home, but with their family, not yours. Additionally it’s also a good idea to remove anything political or religious as you don’t want to unintentionally offend potential buyers. And if you do take photos off of the walls, be sure to also remove nails and repair nail holes to ensure a clean wall.

Make Your Home Available

Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which may not necessarily be yours. Be open on evenings and weekends.If you home can be shows with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you are slow to get back to them and you aren’t able to show your home for at least a week, they may choose to skip your home altogether. When you’re ready to sell be sure to live in a clean manner so packing up quickly isn’t an issue.

Set the Right Price From the Beginning

The strategy of setting an unrealistically high price with the idea that you can come down later doesn’t work. A home that’s overpriced tends to stay on the market longer, even after the price is cut because buyers think there is something wrong with the house. Conduct market research with your agent, and set an accurate price from the beginning to attract the most buyers.

Repaint in Neutral Colors

A new coat of paint gives a house a fresh and clean look. This is the time to paint over your daughter’s pink room, remove the floral wallpaper in the bathroom, and nix the green laundry room. Your goal should be to create a neutral palette so buyers can envision their own personal touches in the home.

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4 Common Issues a Home Inspection Can Reveal

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With all of the expenses that come with buying a home, you may be on the fence about completing a home inspection. While they are not necessarily mandatory, a home inspection is an extremely useful tool when buying a home. Home inspectors can pickup any defects in your new home and give you recommendations for further action. Here are 4 common issues a home inspection can reveal.

4 Common Issues a Home Inspection Can Reveal

Water 

There are a lot of potential water woes when it comes to buying a new home, but the most common is poor drainage. This can result in water pooling around the house which eventually causes problems with the foundation. Foundation repairs can cost anywhere between $5,000 to over $10,000. If your home inspector finds a drainage issue, it gives you the chance to walk away from the house, or add repair costs to the sale of the home. A $500 home inspection can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

Electrical 

Electrical issues are one of the most common issues a home inspection can reveal. Outdated wiring is a common find in old homes that can’t handle the load our modern lifestyle demands. Worst case scenario is that electrical issues can cause sparks which could turn to house fires. Upgrading electrical in a home can get very expensive so you’ll want to know upfront if your new home is coming with electrical repairs.

Roofing

Replacing the roof is something that pops up when it becomes absolutely necessary and water is leaking through the ceiling. Many homeowners tend to ignore the roof and hope for the best, neglecting even simple repairs such as broken shingles. Home inspectors will check the roof of your new home and checks for missing sections, flashing, or current leaks. If the home inspection report comes back with leaks and patches of shingles missing, you’ll want to ensure the seller will take on the responsibility before you agree to buy the property.

HVAC Hazards

HVAC issues in your home is one of the most common issues a home inspection can reveal. Blocked chimneys, broken controls, and cracked heat exchangers are common HVAC hazards. These issues will not only cause the HVAC system to run inefficiently, your bills will be inaccurate and your health could be in danger. Knowing the HVAC system is in good condition will put your mind at ease when buying your new home.

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Hidden Costs of Owning a Home

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Buying a home is an exciting time for so many reasons, but it can go downhill if you’re not prepared for all of the additional expenses. You may be prepared to pay the down payment and closing costs, but what about the additional costs that go into owning a home? Here are 4 hidden costs of owning a home to be aware of before making your investment.

Hidden Costs of Owning a Home

Repairs

Unless you’re buying a newly built home, it’s important that you budget for repairs even before you buy. If you are buying a home that needs a new roof, a fresh coat of paint, new landscaping, etc. you’ll need to budget for those repairs from the get go. While every situation is different, the typical rule of thumb is to expect to spend an average of 1% of the value of your home on repairs per year. You may not spend that much each year, but some years you’ll likely face a broken furnace, appliance replacement, or other costs that eats up that money you saved. Repairs are one of the top hidden costs of owning a home.

Utilities

While you’re likely used to paying a portion of utilities for an apartment space, the utility bills are significantly more for a home. There are no costs that are forgiven by a landlord, plus the overall space is likely larger. Additionally, if you plan to add home security to your space, that’s an upfront cost for the equipment, plus a monthly service cost. Make sure to budget for these costs when you buy a home.

Furniture

With a bigger space comes additional furniture to fill it. Make sure to budget for furniture costs when buying a home. If you’re moving from a 1000 sq. ft. apartment, to a 2800 sq. ft. house, you’re definitely going to be purchasing furniture. Additionally, if you’re redoing an outdoor living space, you’re going to need to purchase outdoor furniture for your home. All of the furniture expenses can add up fast, so it’s important to budget for these costs before you buy a home.

Property Taxes

You might think, “I’m paying $1,500 a month in rent, for that I can pay a lower mortgage and own a home!” Well, yes – as long as you’re plugging in the property taxes. You will need to find out what the taxes are in advance, divide it by 12 and the add it to your monthly payment. Also, property taxes are going to keep going up, so make sure you have room left in your budget to pay even more taxes in the future.

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Advantages of Living in an HOA Community

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Homeowners associations (HOA) are becoming more prevalent throughout the United States. A well-run HOA can make for a highly enjoyable community, while a poorly run HOA can drive it’s residents away from the community. From the access to amenities, to social activities, to the overall sense of community, there are many advantages of living in an HOA community.

Advantages of Living in an HOA Community

Amenities

The amenities are one of the main advantages of living in an HOA community. Many HOA communities have community pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, business centers, coffee shops and clubhouses. This can help homeowners save on expenses associated without having to pay to use similar utilities elsewhere. For example, if an HOA community offers a neighborhood gym, this eliminates the need for residents to buy an additional gym membership.

Increase in Home Value

The rules of an HOA are designed to protect the value of each property and to ensure that an individual home cannot negatively impact the market value of homes in the neighborhood. Therefore, the presence of a highly functional and well run HOA can dramatically increase the value of homes in the neighborhood. Additionally, a lot of changes that homeowners make to the outside appearance of their homes have to be approved by the HOA.

Planned Social Activities

Want to celebrate the 4th of July with your neighbors but don’t want to take on the burden of planning? Done! With an HOA, there is typically a social committee that is in charge of planning events for the neighborhood. This allows you to enjoy leisure activities with your neighbors without having to worry about the details. Additionally, attending social activities helps build relationships between neighbors.

Well Maintained

An HOA enforces a well maintained community. All public spaces within the community, including parks, trails, and sidewalks, are maintained by the HOA and are not the responsibility of individual residents. This helps the overall appearance of a community. This also helps keep these spaces healthy and inviting for families to visit. Additionally, because the rules are strict about the exterior appearances of homes, the result is a more upscale neighborhood. The eliminates any eyesores on the block.

Mediator for Neighbor Disputes

Any time you have an argument about a dog barking all night long, loud parties, or car alarms consistently going off, the HOA will address it. This helps mediate any issues between neighbors. Often times there are penalties for such violations, so you probably won’t have many issues anyway.

You may also like: Reasons to Buy a Newly Built Home in Western Washington

What is a Master On The Main?

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Floor plans that offer a main level master bedroom, also known as a master on the main, are becoming increasingly desirable. These homes feature the master suite on the main floor, with more convenient access to the great room and kitchen, and the perk of avoiding stairs. Here are three benefits to the master on the main plans.

What is a Master On The Main?

Accessibility

Main level master suites are a convenient and smart solution for aging in the home. As older buyers decide on a home for their retirement years, they may prefer a floor plan that will grow with them, and not require them to negotiate stairs should the time come when they are unable to handle them. Also, who wouldn’t want to be right next to the kitchen? This makes midnight snacking more enjoyable than tumbling downstairs in the middle of the night. The wonderful thing about the master on the main floor plan is that it can serve homebuyers in all stages of life. Some even have kitchenettes attached to the master suites to give the suite a sense of independence. Additionally, some main level master suites have their own private entrance which serves as a large benefit for the home owner.

Privacy

When you have a house full of guests over the holidays, you still get your privacy as your guests occupy the upstairs. First floor master bedrooms allow the masters of the house to be separated from all other rooms. Perhaps your child has just started to play the drums and needs to practice in their room. Instead of sharing a wall with the loud drummer, you’re on a whole separate floor, and perhaps a whole separate wing of the home. This allows you to have your kids explore their talents without having to sacrifice your eardrums. Additionally, having this privacy allows you to remains fast asleep when your kids or guests come home from a late night shindig.

Multi-generational living

Having a downstairs master allows grandparents to move in when the time comes. This allows home buyers a sense of preparedness should the time comes to move their parents into their home. Knowing there is a separate space so everyone remains comfortable is key. The longevity of the master on main plan is the biggest selling point for home buyers of all ages.

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5 Reasons to Sell Your Home This Summer

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As a home seller, you may not be sure when to put your home on the market. There are great opportunities to be taken advantage of when the temperature rises. Here are 5 reasons to sell your home in the summer.

5 Reasons to Sell Your Home This Summer

Curb appeal

One of the quickest ways to boost the value of your home is to focus on curb appeal. This includes tidying up your front yard, giving your home a fresh coat of paint, and focusing on landscaping in the front and back yards. In the summer curb appeal is at its peak. With more sunny days, the curb appeal of your home can make a larger impression on potential home buyers than in other seasons. Strategically placing flowerbeds and well-trimmed shrubs, along with healthy and cut grass can make your home draw a lot more interest.

You’ll have more time to focus on the sale

One of the top reasons to sell your home this summer is the added time. It’s not called summer vacation for nothing! Summer is one of the most popular seasons for people to take their vacation time. Summer also has a number of long weekends that can be taken advantage of. Long weekends mean you will have more time to properly list your home, talk to buyers, write offers, and sell your home. Buying a home is a large purchase (most likely the largest purchase a person will make), so having the extra time to focus on the small details is worthwhile and will give you’re the most return on your investment.

You can focus on renovations

Have a few projects you need to finish up before listing your home? Summer is the best time to focus on renovations. With longer days, you have more time and energy to finish up the small projects standing between you and listing your home. For example, if your roof needs to be replaced or your kitchen needs new hardware, long sunny summer days are ideal for completing the tasks.

Families move in summer

When the kids are off of school, it’s an easier time for parents to pack up and move. Moving in the summer also allows the kids a chance to adjust to their new surroundings before school starts up again in the fall. In addition, moving in the summer is much less of a hassle as you don’t have to deal with snow, ice, or slush.

More people are out and about

With more people out and about, your “for sale” sign will reach far more people. You may get walk ups who end up being serious buyers. So take advantage of the increase in traffic and sell your home this summer.

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Home Renovations: When to Hire a Pro and When to DIY

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You are a creative person and consider yourself handy by nature. But even still, it can be difficult to decide whether to attempt a DIY home renovation project, or whether it’s best to consult a professional. Take a look at these common home renovations broken down by DIY projects and professional projects.

Home Renovations: When to Hire a Pro and When to DIY

Home Renovation Where You Should Consult a Pro

Major Electrical Work

Electrical work can be tricky, and if done incorrectly can be very dangerous and costly. If your electrical needs major work, consider hiring a professional electrician so you are confident that it’s done correctly.

Foundation Repairs

Say you want to extend your home own 10 feet and need to update the foundation. Since the foundation is a critical component of the structure of your home, it shouldn’t be DIYed because it could be very dangerous and costly if done incorrectly. Luckily pouring foundation isn’t necessarily a glamorous task, so you likely won’t regret hiring a professional for this type of project.

Plumbing

Adding a new bathroom? Consider hiring a professional to hook up your plumbing. There’s a large amount of room for error, which could result in dangerous and significant damage to your home. Not to mention a stinky situation…

Roof Repairs

While some opt to install roofing themselves, it’s extremely dangerous if you don’t have the right gear. Professional roofers have equipment needed to repair your roof and prevent future damage to your home.

DIY Home Renovations

Painting

Painting the interior of your home is fairly straightforward and can be done following a couple video tutorial found online. A new paint job can be a quick undertaking that can also allow you to paint exactly how you’d like, especially for walls with designs.

Landscaping

Building patio and decks can be done without a professional. Just do your research on the best materials for your vision and the proper steps of installation. If you have questions, consult the folks at your local hardware shop and garden center. They are typically experts that are more than willing to offer advice and recommendations.

Tiling

If you are choosing to install new tiles in your home, there’s no need to hire a professional. Especially for smaller projects like bathroom or mudroom tiles, installing new tiles is a task that brings on little risk of doing major damage.

Minor electrical work

You likely don’t need an electrician if you’re just switching out a light fixture in your kitchen. Simply look up how to connect the wiring and you should be set!

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Understanding Home Owner’s Insurance

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Before you buy a home, it’s important to know about home owner’s insurance and what it covers. While you’re basking in the joys of buying a new home, the last thing you want to think about is the chance of any destruction or vandalism against your property. Here are 5 things to understand about home owner’s insurance.

Understanding Home Owner’s Insurance

What is home owner’s insurance?

Unlike driving a car, you can legally own a home without home owner’s insurance. However, if you finance your home with a mortgage, your lender will most likely require an insurance policy in case of unforeseen circumstances. Home owner’s insurance policies cover loss or damage of personal property due to theft or natural disasters. Policies may cover costs if someone sues the home owner or injures themselves on the property.

What happens if you don’t have an insurance plan?

If you don’t have an insurance policy, you are not covered if something happens to your home. As a result, any repairs or replacements costs will have to be paid out of pocket. Simply: you are liable for any damage to your property or belongings.

Benefits of home owner’s insurance

The largest benefit of having an insurance plan is that you’re protecting yourself, your family, and your belongings. You cannot control if there is a house fire or other natural disaster. In these tragic times, you want the peace of mind that your policy will cover any damage costs. Most policies also cover temporary living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after a covered claim. Additionally, with most policies you’re able to add coverage for valuable personal property such as jewelry, musical instruments, and electronics. If you do end up losing a personal item to a natural disaster, your policy will replace your lost belonging with brand-new equivalents of the same quality.

How do I pay for homeowner’s insurance?

Most home owner’s tack on their insurance payment to their mortgage check. This allows you to make one simple payment each month and not have to worry about writing multiple checks every month. It’s important to contact at least three companies to compare coverage to make sure you’re getting the best coverage for you and your family at the lowest cost. Additionally, if you’re required to have flood coverage, it’s important to note which home owner’s insurance companies cover this insurance. Since you’ll mainly be working with insurance companies during times of disaster, it’s important to choose a company with great customer service.

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4 Signs It’s Time to Move

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Your home is where you spend most of your time, so you deserve to enjoy every minute of it. If home isn’t where the heart is anymore, and you’re finding yourself daydreaming about moving into a new home, it may be time to get packing. Here are 4 common signs it’s time to move.

4 Signs It’s Time to Move

Your house is too small

Let’s face it, we all collect random things as time goes on, so running out of storage in a home is a common place people find themselves in. After deep cleaning your home, organizing your closets, and having massive garage sales, you may find that your home is still too small. If you are having this issue, it’s a good sign it’s time to move into a home with more space. Additionally, if your family keeps growing and you simply need more bedrooms, that’s another sign your home is too small and its time to search for a larger home.

Your house is too big

On the flip side, when your kids move out of the house, you may find yourself really only needing 2 bedrooms, not 5. The more bedrooms, the more space to collect dust and clutter, and the higher the energy bills to keep those rooms warm/cool. Additionally, with more space, you may be tempted to keep buying items to fill all the space, when really you aren’t using the extra rooms. If you feel like your home is simply too large, it’s a good sign it’s time to move.

Too much maintenance

The level of maintenance for a home is one of the most common signs it’s time to move. The size of the house may be fine, but the maintenance it requires may just be too much for this stage of your life. You may love the size of the backyard and having a swimming pool, but the cost and effort it takes to maintain the luxurious backyard, may not be worth it. This could be a good sign it’s time to move to a location with a community pool, with multiple parks that you don’t have to maintain, but still get to enjoy.

You want to upgrade but don’t want to remodel

You want another bedroom and bathroom, but your house is already at the top value in the area, so you likely wouldn’t be able to recoup the cost when you plan to sell. Or, you just don’t want to deal with the stress or cost of renovating. In these cases, it makes more sense just to move.

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The Advantages of Buying a Home Vs. Renting

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For many years, renting a home was a less expensive alternative to buying a home. While renting is more flexible, buying has the bigger potential long term payoffs. Here are 4 advantages of buying a home vs. renting.

The Advantages of Buying a Home Vs. Renting

Home Ownership is a Built in Savings Account

While renting a home may seem like less money per month, think about where the money is going. Every month you write a check to your landlord, and you don’t see that money again. With a mortgage payment, you pay down the mortgage and increase your equity. In this fashion, home ownership helps you build wealth. Additionally, with rent prices increasing and home prices staying relatively steady, make sure to evaluate what it would cost to rent vs. buy, because you may be surprised!

Paying a Fixed Mortgage Stabilizes Budget

As anyone who has rented a home knows, especially in urban areas, rent hikes are the norm and are often out of your control. If you’re in an area without rental control, the landlord can raise the rent to whatever he or she likes. With a mortgage payment, you are agreeing to pay the same mortgage amount every single month for the life of the loan – 15 or 30 years. This helps you budget accurately and know exactly what to expect every month.

Personalization

Perhaps one of the most exciting advantages of buying a home vs. renting is the freedom to personalize your home. This means you can paint, add on rooms, and knock down walls if you so desire. With a rental, you have very tight restrictions, so you are likely unable to personalize the home however you want.

Tax Advantages

Buying a home comes with great tax advantages. Homeowners can deduct mortgage interest on their federal income taxes. This is a hefty deduction for most because interest payments are often the largest section of a mortgage payment in the first years of owning a home. There are also some closing fees and property taxes that you are also able to deduct.

Growing Your Roots

It’s hard to feel established in a neighborhood if you are moving every year. Buying a home really allows you and your family to really settle in and create a community. When you know you’re going to be in the house for a while, it’s easier and more natural to build long lasting relationships with your neighbors.

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VA Loan Benefits Video

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In this video, I speak on the Top 7 VA loan benefits. From credit score flexibility, to no private mortgage insurance, there are a ton of VA Loan benefits.

1. $0 down payment

2. Possible $0 closing costs + prepaids

3. No private mortgage insurance

4. Higher debt to income ratio

5. More relaxed credit score

6. Pay off revolving debts

7. Use it again

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