SIGNS YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT

🏘️ You trust your real estate agent, right? If you hear something from her that sets you on edge, it may be time to find a new one. 🔀 Here are several things an agent might say that signal it’s time to switch agents.


THINGS REAL ESTATE AGENTS SAY THAT SIGNAL WARNING

You trust your real estate agent to have your best interest at heart. After all, you’ve told her exactly what you’re looking for in a home and you expect she will find it and be totally honest along the way. Sometimes, however, an agent may say something that sets you on edge and makes you think she isn’t the agent for you. When that happens, you may need to make the tough decision to go with another agent. 

Here are several things an agent might say that signal it’s time to find a new agent. 

“I’LL CALL YOU BACK.”

When you contact an agent for help in finding your new home, you expect her to be interested immediately. She should begin asking questions and taking notes so she can start finding your dream home. If she tells you she’s busy and will call you back, it could be an indication that she doesn’t have your best interest at heart. It’s probably best to look for another agent. 

“YOU REALLY DON’T NEED A HOME INSPECTION.”

Regardless of how well you know the agent or the sellers of a home, you should never forgo the home inspection. The home inspection can turn up unseen problems that could end up costing you a lot of money to fix once the home is yours. You have the right to have the home inspected as many times as it takes to satisfy you. 

“THAT SMELL WILL GO AWAY.”

If your agent tells you a particularly bad smell will just “go away,” it’s a sign that she’ll do or say anything to get you to buy the property. It’s not an honest answer, and you should be wary, lest you end up finding a human skeleton buried in your basement after moving in. 

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT GOING THROUGH THE DOCUMENTS.”

You’ve probably heard it from a parent or grandparent – “Never sign anything without reading it first!” Well, a good agent will never ask you to sign a contract without letting you read it first. Not only that, but a good agent will also make the time to help you understand the documents before you sign as well as take the time to help you understand the entire realty process! Be sure to read everything – including the fine print – before signing and find another agent if yours pushes you to sign without giving you time to read the document first.

“I HAVE A HOME TO SHOW YOU THAT’S SLIGHTLY ABOVE YOUR PRICE RANGE.”

You gave your agent a specific budget and she should stick to that budget. Showing you homes “slightly above your price range” is a poor real estate tactic that only serves to make buyers feel bad. Or worse, it pushes them to buy more home than they can afford. Your agent should respect your budget and only show you homes that fall below that number. If she keeps showing you homes that are more expensive, she definitely doesn’t have your best interest at heart. 

You should be able to trust your real estate agent to find you the home of your dreams. If she says any of the things listed above, it may be time to find a new agent. 

VINTAGE HOUSEHOLD TIPS

✨ The household hacks of yesteryear still have value today. Here are several oldies but goody household tips that still work today.

OLD TIME HOUSEHOLD TIPS THAT STILL WORK TODAY

As technologically advanced as we are today, some of the old tips and tricks of yesteryear still have value today. Take the vintage household tips listed below. Designed to cut waste and reduce time and effort, these household hacks make life easier.

While you may already know some of them, we’re willing to bet there’s a couple you’ll find particularly helpful. 

HELPFUL HOUSEHOLD HACKS FROM YESTERYEAR

Because our society is so tech-driven, most people think anything from before the Internet couldn’t possibly be very helpful. On the contrary, the tips below come from the 1940’s and 50’s, and they still work today. 

  • Got a dried paintbrush or two you forgot to clean? No worries! Just soak them in hot vinegar for a while than rinse clean. The brushes will be easy to clean and return to their like-new pliable state. 
  • If your clothes have seen brighter days, give their colors a boost by soaking them in a solution of 1-gallon water to ½ cup white vinegar. Alternatively, a solution of 1-gallon water to 2-cups salt works well, too. Wash your clothes as normal after soaking. 
  • Older homes have plaster walls, which can be a pain when trying to nail something to them. To keep nails from loosening in plaster walls, pound the nail into the plaster, remove it, wrap the nail in steel wool, then replace it in the hole. 
  • If a hole in your wallpaper is driving you crazy, fix it easily with this simple tip. First, cut away any jagged edges using a sharp knife. Next, cut a patch from the leftover wallpaper that matches. Wet the patch (or apply wallpaper glue), making sure the uneven edges are all covered. Finally, apply the patch to the hole, pressing all the edges down firmly. When the patch dries, you won’t be able to tell the hole ever existed. 
  • Paint drips got you down every time you paint a room? Remedy the problem by gluing a paper plate to the bottom of the paint can. This works better than spreading newspapers as it goes with you everywhere you take the can and you won’t need to re-spread the newspaper as you move about the room. 
  • If yours is like most, your kitchen contains at least one pot lid without a handle. For whatever reason, the handle broke off, leaving you without a way to safely remove the lid while cooking. To fix the lid and make it usable again, screw a screw through the center hole from the underside of the lid. Push an oversized cork onto the screw and voila! The cork is heatproof, so you’ll be able to use the lid as normal once again. 
  • If you have several pairs of high-heeled shoes, you can create a handy storage rack in your closet to keep your shoes in great shape and save space at the same time. Simply repurpose an old curtain rod by screwing it to the closet door with the slotted side facing out. Now, you can hang your shoes by their heels, which will keep them off the floor and looking newer longer. 

While these household tips are old-school, they still work today to make life easier and to save you money, too.

DO THESE THINGS BEFORE CLOSING ON A HOME

🤝 It’s almost closing time, but there’s one thing left to do – the final walk through.➡️ Here’s what you need to do at this crucial step.

HOW TO HANDLE THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

Here you are at the end of the home buying process. It’s been a long, exciting, and sometimes frustrating ride, but there’s nothing left to do but the final walk through. This is your last chance to make sure that all the repairs have been made and that no new repairs have cropped up since the inspection. It’s also the time when you make sure all agreed upon furnishings and appliances are still in the home and that all its systems are in working order. 

It seems like a lot to look over, but it will be worth it since things do happen in the moving process or while the home sits vacant before you take ownership. So, to help you with this important step, we’ve put together a checklist of all the things you should do/check during the final walk through. 

A LIST OF THINGS TO BRING TO THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

As a buyer, you should bring the following items to the walk through. 

  • The final offer
  • The inspection report
  • Written agreements between buyer and seller
  • A notebook
  • A camera or phone to take pictures
  • A small electric device to plug in to check that all outlets work
  • This list of items to check

The idea behind the final walk through is to make sure everyone has satisfied the terms of the agreement and that you’re not getting into a repair nightmare.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR DURING THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

This is your last chance to make sure everything is as it should be before you take ownership of the home. Here’s what to look for. 

  • Have all the repairs been completed?
  • Are all the agreed upon appliances, window treatments, furnishings, etc. in the home?
  • Has the seller left behind any garbage, old paint, or other waste?

THE HOME’S EXTERIOR

  • Are the roof and gutters in good shape?
  • Is there any waste/garbage left behind in the yard?
  • Are there any signs of a pest infestation such as droppings, chewed wood, etc.?
  • Do the garage doors function properly?
  • Is the doorbell working and the mailbox in good shape?

THE HOME’S INTERIOR

  • Make sure all utilities are on and that all appliances and major systems in the home work. 
  • Run the fans in the bathrooms and above the stove
  • Run hot and cold water faucets throughout the home. Check that there are no leaks in the plumbing beneath the sinks. 
  • Flush the toilets
  • Check the ceiling fans and lights in every room
  • Test outlets
  • Look for mold
  • Open/close all doors and windows and check locks
  • Check every surface for damage including walls, ceilings, crown molding, etc. 
  • Check that all the fixtures are in place.

If everything on this list checks out during your final walk through, great! Your new home is move-in ready and you can proceed with the closing.

MAINTENANCE TIPS FOR A WOOD DECK

🏡 It doesn’t take long for a wood deck to start looking weathered and neglected.

👉 Here are a few tips to help you keep your wood deck in tip-top shape.


HOW TO CARE FOR A WOOD DECK

A wood deck is a big investment that increases the value of your home and gives it visual appeal. Having said that, even the most well-constructed deck can begin to look shabby after a couple of years if it’s not taken care of properly. 

Caring for any outdoor installation is a continuous process, so follow the tips outlined below to keep your wood deck looking good for as long as possible. 

DO A WATER TEST

Your deck’s sealant has an expiration date. What that date is, however, isn’t an exact science. You should test the wood a few times a year to make sure the sealant is still doing its job. 

Simply spray some water on it and watch what happens to the water. If it soaks into the wood, it’s time to reseal. If the water beads up, the sealant is good for another few months. 

CLEAN BEFORE SEALING

When it’s time to reseal your deck, make sure it is as clean as possible before starting. Not only does a sealer help protect the wood from rot, but it also protects it from stains as well. 

Use a cleaner designed for wood to remove obvious surface dirt and then sand the deck lightly to prepare it for staining and/or sealing. 

USE A DECK BRIGHTENER

If your deck is particularly weathered, apply a deck brightener to breathe new life into it. This step is done after you have cleaned the deck and it has dried completely.

SEAL YOUR DECK

Sealing your deck is easy, but it requires at least two full days of dry weather to complete. Purchase a stain/sealer that repels water and resists fading. Apply a thin, even coat using a roller for the big areas and a paintbrush in corners and other areas where the roller can’t reach. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next and let stain-soaked rags dry completely in the sun before throwing them in the garbage. 

KEEP UP WITH MAINTENANCE

Applying a quality sealant will protect your deck for a long time, but this doesn’t mean you should neglect regular maintenance during that time. Periodically clean your deck of surface dirt and stains and conduct a water test to spot issues before they become big problems. Repair any issues as soon as possible to prevent more serious, expensive problems from occurring. 

ENLIST PROFESSIONAL HELP

For the do-it-yourselfer, caring for a wood deck is an easy task. If you aren’t sure what to use or don’t have the time to do it yourself, however, enlisting the help of a professional can save you considerable time and money. 

A wood deck is a big investment that adds value to your home and gives you a nice place to enjoy your outdoor space. To keep it looking great, follow the tips above, or hire a professional. 

THINKING OF BUYING VACANT LAND? THESE DO’S AND DON’TS CAN HELP

💭 Thinking of buying vacant land? 👉 These do’s and don’ts may help.

THINGS TO DO AND NOT DO WHEN BUYING VACANT LAND

If you’ve already bought a home and now want to try your hand at buying vacant land, be prepared for a whole new ballgame. Whether you’re planning to build your dream home on this vacant piece of land, or you hope to sell it for a profit in the future, these do’s and don’ts can help you avoid buyer’s remorse.

DO’S FOR BUYING VACANT LAND

  • DO work with a real estate agent – While buying vacant land seems less complicated, it can actually be more so than buying a home. Make sure to work with an agent who has experience in land transactions to ensure you get the help and understanding you need to have a hassle-free buying experience.
  • DO organize your finances – Most land purchases are made with cash rather than a loan, so be sure you have access to the amount of cash you need. If your funds are tied up in other investments, make sure to pull them out before making an offer on a piece of land. 
  • DO remember to include utilities and road access in your plans – If you’re building your dream home on the land you purchase, be sure to include the cost of running utilities to the home and supplying road access if there isn’t any. 
  • DO consider incentives – Consider taking advantage of incentives offered by the federal government in areas ravaged by natural disaster. This could give you a valuable piece of land at a low price. 

DON’TS OF BUYING VACANT LAND

  • DON’T expect a loan – A vacant piece of land has nothing to leverage for a loan. Lenders usually won’t finance vacant land.
  • DON’T forgo environmental testing – Many environmental factors go into whether a piece of land is a good investment or not. It needs to be evaluated by a professional to ensure you can do with it what you plan. 
  • DON’T neglect the survey – The land should be surveyed to identify its boundaries. 
  • DON’T talk to the neighbors – While talking with the neighbors is a good idea when purchasing a home, discussing your plans to build on a vacant piece of land may only serve to fuel opposition from neighbors who don’t want you to build. Save making friends with the neighbors until after you’ve built and moved in. 
  • DON’T count on having property rezoned – The governing body over your vacant piece of land likely has rules and restrictions when it comes to how you build and what you build on it. Rather than think you can apply for and change the zoning laws for your land, choose a parcel that meets your needs while staying within the existing zoning laws to keep things hassle-free. 

It may seem less difficult to buy a vacant piece of land than a home because there is no existing dwelling on it, but the opposite is actually true. If you’re thinking of buying vacant land, be sure you understand these do’s and don’ts before you begin shopping. 

WHAT TO EXPECT WITH YOUR FIRST HOME INSPECTION

💵 Buying your first home? 🔍 Here’s what you can expect with your first home inspection.

What to Expect with Your First Home Inspection

HERE’S WHAT TO DO ON YOUR FIRST HOME INSPECTION

Buying your first home is an exciting, overwhelming time. The prospect of becoming homeowners is a little scary and there’s a lot of confusing paperwork and things to do you’ve never done before. One such thing is the home inspection. This event can be intimidating, but it’s a good thing because it lets you know if the home you’re buying has any major issues that could cost you thousands to fix. 

As helpful as it is, the home inspection is often a dreaded part of the homebuying process, so below, I’ve put together a little list of things you can expect with your first home inspection. 

THE INSPECTOR

The easiest way to find a good home inspector is by referral. If you know a family member or a friend who has recently bought or sold a house, ask them for recommendations. If no one has any, do your own research online to find a reputable inspector. Also, you can ask your state housing authority for a list of certified home inspectors in your area. 

GET ANSWERS

Once you’ve found an inspector, be sure to get answers to all your questions. For starters, ask how much the inspection costs and what it covers. If you need to, ask about payment options, too. Inquire about scheduling, as sooner is always better when buying a house, and find out how long it will take to get the report back once the inspection has taken place. 

Finally, be sure the inspector is certified and ask for references. 

YOUR DEAL BREAKERS

Before the inspection, decide how much you’re willing to spend on repairs and be prepared to make tough decisions should the inspection turn up any major repairs that will put you over-budget. It’s important to stick to your guns at this point because it could be that the home just has too many problems that will cost you too much money to fix. 

Ultimately, you should be in the home when the inspection is taking place, but you should stay out of the inspector’s way as he goes about doing his job. He will give you a rundown of his findings at the time of the inspection, but you’ll receive a detailed report shortly thereafter. 

Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be confusing and intimidating. The home inspection is one such intimidating situation, so hopefully, the information above helps put your mind at ease if you’re going through your first home inspection. 

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AMAZING IDEAS TO ADD LUXURY TO YOUR HOME

💎 If you’re looking for ways to add a luxurious touch to your home, the following ideas may help. You don’t need to be rich or live in a mansion to enjoy a luxurious home décor. In fact, it needn’t be expensive at all to add a touch of luxury to your living space. Below, we’ve compiled a few amazing ideas that will add luxury to your home. 

REMODEL THE BATHROOM

Remodeling the bathroom is a great way to add luxury and value to your home. By making the necessary upgrades in the powder room, you ensure the fixtures and plumbing are up to date and working properly. Adding features like recessed lighting and modern tiling and flooring allows you to add a real sense of luxury. 

ADD PLANTS

Houseplants add instant glamour as well as a natural vibe. You can add a mix of different plants for some color and texture in any room. Try adding small plants in small spaces and large plants that take up entire corners. Also, try hanging plants strategically around the house with pops of green here and there in windowsills and on shelves. 

GO NEUTRAL

For a calming, modern look, choose a neutral color for the walls. Gray seems to be a great choice as it is a cool, relaxed hue that coordinates well with a multitude of accent colors and textures. From a luxury standpoint, you can’t go wrong with the color, “polished pebble” as an interior paint color. 

EMBRACE TEMPORARY WALLPAPER

Temporary wallpaper is a thing now, and if you’re the type that gets bored easily, it might be just what you need to breathe new life into an otherwise drab space. 

If your room is small, try to stick with lighter colors and subtle patterns as something bold may become distracting. Of course, if it does, you can always change it as temporary wallpaper gives you the option to do so without much trouble at all. 

REUPHOLSTER THE FURNITURE

Rather than go out and buy new furniture to fit your luxurious visions, try reupholstering the old pieces instead. If covering the entire chair or sofa is too much work, try instead to cover old throw pillows with new and fascinating fabrics to bring that luxurious touch you crave. 

ADD HIGH-END ACCENTS

Simply adding a few high-end accents can up the value of your home’s décor. Look for ways to incorporate marble, antique gold, and solid wood throughout your home and swap out modern ornaments for vintage ones. 

UPGRADE LIGHT FIXTURES

Another easy luxury upgrade is to replace old, outdated light fixtures with new ones. Try adding a standing lamp in the living room or update those pendant lights in the kitchen to make your space look and feel more luxurious. 

CREATE OPEN SPACE

Luxury homes usually include plenty of open space. Even if your home is small, you can create the illusion of open space by decluttering and moving things around. If open space is hard to come by, sometimes a garage conversion or a home extension will give you the extra space your home needs to look more like the luxury home you envision. 

You don’t have to be rich to enjoy living in a luxurious home. The above ideas give you several ways to bring a luxurious touch to your home. 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SECURITY LIGHTS FOR YOUR HOME

Choose the Right Security Lights for Your Home

SECURITY LIGHTING 101

When most people think of security lighting, they think of bright lights mounted high on an exterior wall that come on when motion is detected. These are the common features of a security light, with the added feature of being weather-proof to withstand the elements. While this type of lighting will definitely produce the brightest and most illuminating path of light around your property, there are many security lighting options to choose from to make your property a safer more secure place after dark. 

TYPES OF SECURITY LIGHTING

As stated before, you have many options to choose from when it comes to security lighting. The important thing to consider is whether the fixture you choose will put the light where you need it. Your options range from high-mounted floodlights that spread light over a large area to low-level path lights that put the light directly where you walk. Porch and patio lighting serve as security lighting, decorative lighting, and area lighting all in one. 

CONSIDER PLACEMENT WHEN CHOOSING FIXTURES

Think about where you’ll mount the security lighting when choosing the fixtures. For instance, if the light is to be mounted on a covered porch, the fixture should be rated to withstand dampness, but not necessarily be waterproof. If, on the other hand, the light will be mounted on an exterior wall, it should be rated as weatherproof or weather-resistant so it can withstand the elements. 

THINK ABOUT WHEN THE LIGHT SHOULD BE ON AND OFF

Depending on where you are placing the light, it may need to be on all the time or have the capability to go off and on at certain times. For example, you may want the light to only be on when it is dark out and go off when the sun comes up. Alternatively, you may want the light to come on by itself if it detects movement. Be sure to read the package description closely to make sure the light will function when and how you want it to. 

STYLE MATTERS TOO

Aside from the functionality of your security lighting, you also want it to look good on the outside of your home. It should coordinate with your home’s style, so consider this as you make your choice. 

SECURITY LIGHT CONTROL OPTIONS

You have several options for controlling your security lights. The easiest way to control them is with a simple on/off switch. You turn the light on when you want it on and turn it off when you want it off. 

Next, security lights often have a timer feature that you set. The light comes on and goes off at specified times, which can especially helpful if you’re away from home as it gives the impression that you are indeed home. 

Other control options you have are photocells and motion detectors. Photocells turn the light on when it gets dark and off when it gets light. Motion sensors turn the light on if any movement is detected and then off again once movement ceases. When combined, these two options are amazingly effective at deterring would-be criminals. 

BEST PRACTICES FOR VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

🏠 Are you looking to buy a new home? If so, you’re probably concerned about the coronavirus and entering strangers’ homes. ✨ Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of virtual showings.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

Virtual showings are popular as they allow buyers to see the inside of a home without actually having to visit the property in person. virtual showing are becoming more common as technology advances. Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of virtual showings. 

LOOK AT A FLOOR PLAN BEFORE TAKING THE VIRTUAL TOUR

Ask your real estate agent for a floor plan of the home you’re going to see virtually. This will help you put things like ceiling height and size and layout of the room into perspective. The floor plan will also let you keep track of the rooms you’ve seen and how the flow of the home goes. 

GET YOUR DEVICE READY

When viewing a home virtually, you’ll need the strongest possible signal. You don’t need to be a tech whiz, but you do need to know how to use the technology by which you’ll view the home. 

Before the day of your viewing, make sure to practice using the app (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.) so you’re ready and on time when the tour is scheduled. 

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

During a traditional home tour, you can see and touch everything. During a virtual tour, however, you won’t be able to. You must ask the right questions to determine if the home is worth pursuing further. 

Ask lots of questions about things you can’t perceive on-screen such as how the home smells, where natural lighting comes in, and what the noise level is like inside the home. Ask your agent to take you outside so you can see the curb appeal of the place as well. 

TAKE A VIRTUAL WALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Using Google Street View, you can take a virtual walk of the neighborhood to get a feel for the surrounding community. Do this either before or after your virtual tour, but make sure you do it to determine if the neighborhood fits you and your family – because you’re not just moving into a home, you’re moving into a community, too. 

GET A VIDEO OF THE VIRTUAL SHOWING

Ask your agent to record the virtual tour so you can refer to it later if you have questions or just want to look at the home again. This is also helpful if you have network connection issues during the live showing and miss part of the tour. 

Buying and selling homes can be a but through virtual showings, you can safely look at homes if you’re in the market to buy. 

GUIDE TO PREPARING FOR A LONG-DISTANCE MOVE

📦 Use these tips to get your home and family ready for a long-distance move.

Guide to Preparing for a Long-Distance Move

TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR A LONG-DISTANCE MOVE

Moving to a new home is always stressful, but when you add in moving to a new state, the thought can be overwhelming. There’s so much to do when preparing for a long-distance move, and it’s easy to forget a thing or two. Use this guide to help you and your family prepare for the long move ahead. 

PLAN AND SCHEDULE EVERYTHING

Moving is chaotic, so keep everyone and everything on task by planning and scheduling everything you can. Keep a central file that contains everything you need to stay organized. 

Make to-do lists, add appointments and events to your calendar, and get estimates and receipts for every service you require that pertains to your move. 

CALL MULTIPLE MOVING COMPANIES

Once you’ve formulated your plan, begin by contacting a few moving companies for estimates. It’s important to listen carefully to find out what types of things are included in their moving services. Check reviews online of each company and ask questions if you have any. Be sure to get estimates for separate services such as vehicle moving and pet relocation, if necessary. 

MAKE RESERVATIONS

Once you’ve booked the movers, it’s time to make reservations for the accommodations you’ll need along the way to your new location. If you’re flying, buy the plane tickets and make hotel reservations. If your new home won’t be move-in ready when you get there, make reservations for accommodations now. 

MAKE A PLAN FOR PETS

The ideal way to travel with a pet is by car, but if that isn’t possible, be sure you have the proper documentation and supplies on hand for travel. For example, some airlines don’t allow the transport of pets, while the ones that do usually require a certificate from a vet saying the animal is healthy and safe for transport. 

Be sure to get the necessary paperwork needed as well as pack plenty of food, medication, and other supplies for during and after arrival in your new location. 

DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

To make packing and moving your things easier, take this time to get rid of all the stuff you no longer need or want. Those ice skates in the back of your closet that you haven’t used in a decade or more? Donate them!

Those skinny jeans you just know you’ll get back into someday? Get rid of them!

The less you have to pack, the quicker and easier this part of moving will be. 

CHANGE OF ADDRESS, STOP/START UTILITIES, AND MORE

This is where things get real. Fill out the proper paperwork to notify the post office of your move. Next, call your utility companies and give them a cutoff date in your old location and a turn-on date in your new one. Try to notify as many utilities as possible in your new location before the move. 

Moving in any form is stressful but moving to a new state can be downright overwhelming. It’s easy to forget things, so use the tips above to keep on track and make the move a smooth one.