6 Scary Things to Avoid If You’re Trying to Sell Your Home at Halloween

It may sound surprising, but doing Halloween décor right may actually help you sell your home. Doing it wrong—well, we’re terrified just thinking about it. Here’s what not to do when decking out your house for the spooky holiday.

Don’t overdo the exterior
Your home is strung with witch lights, gravestone markers dot your front yard and Casper the Ghost greets visitors at the door? How will potential buyers take your home seriously when your kids insisted on decorating for the holiday.

Don’t go crazy with blood and gore
You may pride yourself on your intricate displays of horror and mayhem, but it’s best to save that for your new place. Sure, your very realistic zombie playground may be a hit with the neighbors every year, but selling your home will require you to keep your professionalism—after all, you’re trying to sell your house, not spook people away from your front lawn. Avoid any cringe-worthy Halloween décor like bloody handprints, tombstones, or morbid scenes.

Don’t lack self-control with the pumpkins
You don’t need your front porch to look like a grocery store display. A tasteful mix of pumpkins and gourds can be inviting. Keep the “tasteful” thing in mind when you’re carving, as well.
Keep an eye on the kids’ carved pumpkins, too. If you don’t want to offend them by hiding the less-than-perfect pumpkins during an open house, you can simply turn the faces toward the wall for showings.

Don’t pack every inch of your interior with Halloween-themed décor
If buyers can’t take their eyes off your (admittedly impressive) skeleton collection, they’re not paying enough attention to your floor plan and features. You want buyers to notice the home, not what’s in it.

Don’t fail to decorate
If you’re in a neighborhood in which every home decorates for Halloween, you don’t want to be the one party pooper—this could make your home stick out for the wrong reason. Save the hanging witches and inflatable Dracula for another time and go for something elegant that speaks to the design sense buyers might find inside.

Don’t price your home too high
This is problematic regardless of the time of year, but fall can be eye-opening for buyers who incorrectly assume that they may be able to command spring or summer home prices without the same competitive conditions. Our competitive market analysis should serve as a guide.

 

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Source: Jaymi Naciri Realty Times

How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

Becoming a first-time homeowner takes a lot more than a desire to buy a house. It takes a lot of effort on your part to save up a down payment — which is usually a pretty good sized chunk of change — research neighborhoods, get pre-approved for a loan and other steps. Fortunately, it is quite possible to say goodbye to renting and hello to homeownership, especially when homeowners-to-be consider the following tips:

Focus on the Down Payment

In order to leave the land of rent, you are going to need a down payment — plain and simple. While it is common to put down 20 percent, some lenders now allow a much smaller amount, and first-time home buyer programs may go as low as 3 percent. While a smaller down payment may sound enticing, a 5 percent down payment on a $200K home is still $10,000 — not exactly a small sum. If saving money does not come naturally for you, don’t worry. With some relatively minor lifestyle changes you can speed up the down payment savings process. Come up with a savings plan to determine how much you need to set aside every week or month and then find ways to “find” that money in your budget. Using the $10,000 example from before, if you are determined to buy a home in two years, you’ll have to come up with about $415 a month to stash into your down payment account. Take a close look at your monthly bills and determine what you can pare down or eliminate — maybe you are paying $75 a month for a gym membership you rarely use, or you pay $40 extra for premium satellite channels that no one watches. These services can be cancelled and the money can go directly into your savings account. Eat out less, have Starbucks twice a week instead of every day and if you need to, consider a side hustle on the weekends to reach this magical monthly amount of $415.

Avoid Identity Theft

Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft increase when you are buying and moving into a new home. The stacks of documents that are part of buying a home and that are filled with your personal information may accidentally fall into the wrong hands, and once you move, mail may not be routed correctly and thieves may steal your mail and your identity from your old mailbox. Prevent this situation from happening by purchasing an identity theft protection program; find a trusted company that will help safeguard your personal data. In addition to letting you know when a bank pulls your credit report and asking if you have authorized this inquiry, certain services will monitor your financial activity and alert you if anything is amiss.

Check Your Credit Report

When you start the pre-approval process for a loan and then move on to the Big Kahuna of applying for an actual mortgage, your credit report will be pulled numerous times. Your credit score will then be used to determine if you are approved for a loan, and what type of interest rate you will get. Please do not wait until you have the down payment saved and you are champing at the bit to go look at houses to check your FICO score — check your credit as early in the process as you can. If you have a credit card that has been issued through your bank, give them a call and see if they can run your report for you for free; in the cases of some credit cards, they also offer a free monthly FICO score check. Read through the report and check for any errors; this includes credit lines you never opened and delinquent payments that you know were made on time. Dispute any mistakes that you find and look for ways to boost your credit score, like paying down credit card bills and setting up automatic bill pay so you are never late with your payments.

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Source: Realty Times

Pros and Cons of Buying a Tiny Home

What was once written off as a short-term trend has proven to have staying power. And, tiny homes are no longer being associated primarily with millennials, either. There are plenty of stories of families choosing to live leaner. Tiny homes are now increasingly the choice of seniors, as well. Today’s average tiny house costs about $23,000, and as a result, 68% of all little house owners aren’t tied to a mortgage. Tiny houses can be built on site, or they can be easily shipped to the buyer, thanks to the fact that they will usually fit on a flat-bed truck. More companies that specialize in compact houses are popping up across the country, making it much easier for anyone to go small.

But is the tiny house movement really all it appears to be? As with any new trend, it’s important to seriously consider the pros and cons.

Pro: Yes, they’re affordable

The price is right for tiny homes regardless of location. A tiny house costs a lot less to build than a full-sized one. Cutting back on housing expenses enables tiny house owners to put more money toward other luxuries, save for retirement, or simply work less. A tiny home also often means no mortgage, which, if the buyer can swing it, means they don’t have to pay interest and can own their home outright.

Con: It’s almost impossible to get a mortgage for a tiny home

If you don’t have the money to just pay for a tiny house, getting a loan is challenging. Properties valued at less than $100,000 aren’t generally going to sit well with traditional lenders. Plus, if your tiny house is on wheels, you’ll probably be rejected outright, as homes that aren’t anchored to a foundation aren’t considered real estate.There are alternate routes of financing to explore, like taking out a personal loan or raising all of the capital to build the tiny home yourself, but those can prove more than a little tricky.

If you do succeed in obtaining a personal loan, be aware that the interest rates associated with that loan can be pretty steep, with some as high as 10% to 11% or more. Another option: you might just qualify for an RV loan, if your tiny home is on wheels.

Pro: They’re portable

If you buy a traditional house, you’re not likely going to load it up on a truck and move it somewhere else when you desire a change of scenery. But, with a tiny home, that’s part of the allure. A tiny house can easily be fitted on a flatbed truck, which makes not only delivering them to buyers easy, but also the future resettling as well. Whether you have a lot of wanderlust, seek new job opportunities, or just want to spend a season living close to a beach…it’s easy to appreciate the fact that you can simply pack-up your house and go on your way.

Con: Yes, they’re small!

Technically, this could also be a “pro” for those keen on tightening up their footprint, but, for most people, the idea of living in 100 to 400 square feet (the average size of a tiny home), is a deal-breaker. Living in a tiny home means you’ll have to do a lot of sacrificing in order to downsize, more often than not you’ll have to give up your private office, man cave or home gym. Your washer and dryer will more than likely end up in your bathroom or kitchen and you’ll have to do some serious compromising when it comes to what you bring into the home. There are ways to remedy these ‘sacrifices,’ but you’ll still be giving up your privacy and downsizing no matter how creative you get with storage.”

Pro: It can be anything you want it to be

A tiny house doesn’t have to be a full-time dwelling. Some choose to use a tiny house as a home office, or keep a tidy little place ready for when the in-laws come to visit. Even the federal government knows the value of a tiny home: Dwellings of 308 square feet served as a welcome alternative to FEMA trailers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

 

Con: Lack of personal space

Forget about that art studio or even a she shed. If you need a little space to yourself, that’s going to be hard to achieve in a tiny home. Living in a tiny home by yourself might be easy, but sharing a small space with one or more people can be a challenge, because there’s no personal space to spend time alone or even roll out an exercise mat and get in a workout. Those of you that are extroverts may have no problem being in tight quarters with others, but introverts may miss the alone time that a larger house can offer.

Pro: They’re clever

You think you have some smart storage solutions in your home? Imagine what you’d need to fashion if you lived in 200 square feet! Look at some uber smart storage under the stairs here and the cabinet walls here.

Con: They still lack storage because they lack space

No matter how many witty ideas you come up with, you’re never going to have an ample walk-in closet and tons of kitchen cabinets—both of which are ingrained in the “typical” vision of the American dream.

Pro: They’re greener

Tiny homes are, by their very essence, more environmentally friendly simply because, it requires substantially fewer building materials to construct, which makes it viable to use more expensive, eco-friendly components and still keep costs down overall. In addition to that solar energy for heating and electricity is something tiny homes are more likely to use than the standard house option.

Buying a tiny house has lots of advantages for free-spirited people with a limited housing budget. But living in a very small sized house is not for everyone. Whatever may be the case, understanding the pros and cons of living in a tiny house can help you make important choices. Here’s to living large — no matter what type of house you choose!

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Source: Realty Times

How to Avoid Disaster on Moving Day

Just like weddings, even a well-planned move can have some hiccups. It can be difficult trying to coordinate the timing of everything: moving help, truck or trailer rental, wait times. Here are four hair-pulling frustrations and solutions on how to avoid these potential moving day disasters.

1. Getting scammed by a moving company

Failed to research your moving company beforehand? You could end up with rogue movers (read: scam artists) and a major moving disaster on your hands. These movers are known for their fraudulent practices, including the lack of a license or insurance. They may also damage or break items, fail to show up on time, and of course (the worst) steal a truckful of your belongings. 

How to avoid: With a growing number of complaints filed against moving companies these days, it’s more important than ever to properly protect yourself and your belongings during a move. So before entrusting your household items to a moving company, be sure to do your homework. To check a moving company’s credibility, make sure they are properly licensed and insured and check for any official complaints filed with the FMCSA.

2. Broken and damaged belongings

Your belongings finally show up at your house – the only problem is they’re broken. Yikes. Unfortunately, this is the fate for many who fail to properly pack their belongings for a move. From shattered glass to damaged furniture, it’s not uncommon for belongings to get banged up during a move – especially when transporting them a long distance.

How to avoid: The best way to avoid ending up with broken belongings is to properly pack your things. For starters, be sure to use appropriate moving boxes and supplies. Don’t use boxes that are damaged or falling apart. For TVs, artwork and mirrors, try using telescope boxes to ensure that they are properly protected. Breakables should be wrapped in bubble wrap, newspaper or foam. Heavy items should be placed in smaller boxes – not larger boxes. It’s important to not place multiple heavy items in one box. Important documents and records should be placed inside file folders before moving. Also, be sure to use waterproof bins and/or plastic baggies to pack electronics and cords.

3. Not being able to fit your couch through the door

Moving day has finally arrived! The only problem is your couch won’t fit through the door. Unfortunately, those with oversized couches and/or a small front door may run into this moving day disaster. Keep in mind, if you have other large furnishings, such as a wide chair, a dining room table or a tall armoire, you could run into a similar problem.

How to avoid: To avoid this frustrating debacle, I highly recommend measuring your couch and doorways prior to the move. If you do have an oversized couch or tiny doorway, try taking the hinges off the door, removing the legs from the couch, or searching your home for another door or window large enough to handle the furniture. Of course, if you hire professional movers for the job, they should be able to handle this sticky situation for you.

4. Your movers refuse to transport your item

You’ve boxed everything up, and you’re ready for the move. Unfortunately, your movers are not allowed to transport your belongings. Why? Because your boxed up things happen to be on their list of “non-allowables.” Uh oh. This means you’ll end up having to find another way to transport your things, and/or you’ll need dispose of them responsibly before moving day.

How to avoid: While most non-allowables are fairly obvious (think: hazardous chemicals), others may not be (think: nail polish and scuba tanks). Other non-allowables include fertilizer, loaded guns, paint, paint thinner, gasoline, propane tanks, and perishable food items – among other things. Be sure to check with your moving company and ask for their full list of non-allowables before packing your belongings.

Overall:

  • Give yourself as much advance time as you can to plan and prepare, especially if you’re doing it yourself. Major moving companies have a lot of useful information on their websites, even for do-it-yourselfers. You’ll also find blogs and books on the subject.

  • Use the most well-recommended company that you can find. This might require some research online and especially through the network of people you know.

Do you need some recommendations for great moving companies? Give us a call at 480-359-6789 and we can hook you up!

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Source: Moving.com

Do You Need a Special Insurance For Your Vacation Home?

Owning a second home or vacation rental property is an extension of the American dream. But just as your primary home has costs, upkeep and liability concerns, the same goes for your vacation rental property. Do these second or seasonal homes need special or heightened types of insurance protection?

According to the Selective Insurance Group, there are a few things to take into consideration to properly protect your vacation home.

Property crime – If your vacation property is only used during certain parts of the year, and you don’t rent it out, periods when it is unoccupied leave it susceptible to break-ins. Although property crime—including burglary—fell between 2016 to 2017, it’s still cause for concern. Burglary still accounted for almost two of every 10 of the estimated 7.9 million property crimes in 2016.

Single-family or condo? If you own a condominium versus a single-family residence, your condo association may already have coverage—but does the association insurance only protect the physical structure of the condo, not your belongings? Selective advises condo owners to look into this with their insurance agent.

What about flood insurance? Flooding can happen in a wide range of regions, no matter the time of year or local weather patterns. While some areas are more likely to see flooding than others, many regions can experience devastating flooding. Are you as protected as you should be?

Amenities – With various amenities from swimming pools or hot tubs to trampolines, accidents are possible, so consider reviewing the liability portion of your insurance policy and your liability limit to ensure assets are adequately protected in the event someone is injured on your property and files a lawsuit.

Value it right – Property insurance premiums are determined by how much it would cost to rebuild your residence from scratch should it be destroyed. Your independent agent and insurance carrier can work with you to determine the appropriate amount of coverage you might need for a vacation home.

If you want to protect yourself and your home away from home, consult with a certified insurance professional before another vacation season exposes you to an unnecessary loss.

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