Firing Your Realtor is Hard, But Sometimes it Must Happen

Hiring the right Realtor for the job is critical when buying or selling a home. Without experienced professionals by your side, the entire process can become a nightmare. The three main factors that will sell a home are price, condition, and location. No one can change the location, so if a home is priced correctly according to its condition, then it will sell. A good Realtor should properly research the market, and advise you to list the property at a price that will bring offers. Unfortunately, if the price advised is too high, in order to simply get the listing, you won’t know until months later when your house remains unsold.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to sign with the wrong Realtor without sufficient training and experience. Listing a property and writing up a contract is the easy part. A Realtor can seem like they meet the qualifications you are looking for, only to realize later that they don’t. Is it time to move on and “fire” your Realtor?

Canceling the Realtor, however, and the contract with them can be tricky for sellers. Agents and their agencies usually make bigger upfront investments in selling the home (listing, marketing, staging, showing). As a seller, you probably had to sign an exclusive right-t0-sell contract, which is most commonly used by listing and selling agents. The Realtor will have exclusive rights to earn commissions by representing you and by bringing buyers to see your home.

Unless there’s an exception in the contract, this document makes you responsible for paying a commission. In some cases, you may still owe this fee even if you sell the house yourself. For example, if the selling agent gives you a list of buyers, and one of them buys your home later, you could still be obligated to pay some or all of the commission.

If you are close to the end of the contract, the best thing to do is just let it expire. At this point you will be free to hire another Realtor of your choosing. This is a low-drama option that many sellers choose. Most protection periods are terminated as well when you sign a new listing contract with another agent.

The Bottom Line: Like any other service, picking the right real estate agent is crucial for your success. Selling a home in a bustling seller’s market is easy. When the market turns, however, you need the best of the best. Selling your house is a major milestone and investment, don’t trust it to just anyone. Read the fine print of your listing agreement before signing. Ask for an easy exit listing clause. An agent who offers an easy exit listing agreement is so confident in his or her abilities that if you are not 100% satisfied with their services, you can part ways at any time.

Share This Post

First-Time Home Buying Mistakes To Avoid

This month marks Homeownership Month, which is a time to educate yourself on homeownership as well as celebrate the work it takes to create your dream home! It’s also the beginning of summertime, which marks the busiest time of year for home buying so it’s important to be aware of common mistakes first-time homebuyers make and how to avoid them if you’re in the market. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of searching for your first home but be sure to think about each of the tips outlined below so you don’t make any dire mistakes that you may regret.

Be aware of the cash you have to spend

To close on a house, you will need cash on hand for your deposit and closing costs, which can include insurance, taxes, and the service providers’ fees. Since these costs aren’t included in the price of a listed home, they can sometimes come as a surprise to first-time home buyers. Knowing how much cash you have for your deposit and closing costs can help you decide which loan option is best for you and even what price point you can afford.

A conventional loan isn’t always best

There are tons of loan options available and a conventional loan might not be the best for you right now. For example, if you don’t have a lot of cash to put down but have a good credit score, an FHA loan might be the better option because you’re only required to put 3.5% of the purchase price down as a deposit. If you’re a veteran, look into a VA loan, which helps you secure a home with no down payment or mortgage insurance requirements. Depending on which state you live in, there may even be first-time homebuyer grants available to you; these can help with closing costs, deposits, or home upgrades. Educating yourself on the options available to you can be tedious but will help you make the best financial decision.

Know what you can afford per month

Sometimes the easiest place to start with the home-buying process is to know how much money you can afford to spend on a mortgage per month. Taking this approach allows you to set a realistic budget and stops you from going “house poor” which is spending all of your available money on homeownership. To do this effectively, write down your monthly income and start subtracting all of your monthly expenses from that number. Then, factor in what you strive to save per month, other expenses like going out to eat, getting your nails done, or going to the barber. Finally, you will have a good idea of what amount you can afford to pay for your home.No matter what amount you’re pre-approved for, give the amount you would like to spend on a mortgage per month to your lender so you don’t spend all of your money on your home.

No big purchases during the process

Once you’re approved to buy a home, it’s important to not make big purchases until you close, specifically on credit cards or with another type of financing. You may be eager to finance a new couch or bed for the house but you have to wait until after closing. These large fluctuations in your credit can affect the purchasing process by changing your debt-to-income ratio and your credit score. This could force you to start over on your loan approval process and could change the amount you were once approved for.

Don’t get emotionally attached

This is a tip that’s easier said than done, every person that has looked seriously into buying a house knows the disappointment that can come if you lose out on it. For starters, only look at houses in person that you know you can afford and would want to buy. It’s not worth your time and energy to look at a house beyond your budget or so below it that you hate everything about it. When you do see a house you love, it’s easy to get caught up in imagining your life in this new home and feeling emotionally attached to it. Try to remember that every house has pros and cons, and your future home is out there now or ready to be listed any day now!

Know that there will be future expenses

Owning a home means that the expenses will likely never stop. There will constantly be upgrades you want to do, decor to buy, and bills you need to pay. Always remember that just because you’ve closed on a home, doesn’t mean you’re done spending the bulk of your money. If possible, have extra money saved to help you get settled into your new home. Whether you have a big home repair to do or just want to have your home decorated exactly how you’ve dreamt of, it’s important to save for these future expenses as well.

No matter how much you prepare, there will always be bumps in the road when it comes to buying a house. However, it’s an exciting time so try to enjoy the process and utilize the people around you that can help. Experienced professionals like realtors, lenders, and lawyers help first-time homebuyers every single day and should be used to your advantage so you can avoid common pitfalls on the path to buying your first home!

Share This Post

Save For Big Home Repairs

The expenses of owning a house do not stop with the mortgage and regular monthly bills. Things break inside and outside the home and occasionally unexpected repairs can set you back financially. It’s important to have a budget set aside for some of the biggest home repairs.

Foundation: This keeps your home above the earth and provides insulations. Dirt settles and the soil underneath the home has settled in different layers over many years. When the layers are unable to bear the weight of the home on top of them, the foundation can begin to sink and settle. The foundation needs to be maintained to keep the structural integrity of the home. Signs of issues might be:

  • Water gathering into a pool in the basement, sloping floors, doors that won’t shut, or don’t match up to the frames.
  • Exterior large and in a zig-zag form or bricks that are cracked or protruding could be a warning.
  • Cracks in walls or above window and door frames.

No matter the cause, foundation damage gets worse over time and needs to be taken care of. The best thing to do is get a trusted professional out to your home to inspect and then determine if there is a problem or not.

Roof: Protects the home from elements, thus, if there are any signs of issues, it’s important to act fast. Things to look for:

  • Curled, cracked, or missing shingles means they are at the end of their lifespan.
  • Dark, dirty, wet shingles can mean that they are allowing moisture to be trapped and they are not doing their job.
  • Shingle granules in the gutters. Once they start to wear out the composite or asphalt shingles start to shed their coarse, black, sandy granules and end up in the gutters.
  • Wear and tear around the chimney, vents, pipes or anything else that penetrates your roof may be where the deterioration begins and often the fix can be confined to those areas.
  • Leaks in the attic after a storm, or the presence of light coming through in the attic might mean shingles need to be replaced.

Most people don’t really even think about their roof until it’s too late. Don’t wait until water is coming in through ceilings before you call a professional out to inspect. Get up in your attic, as it’s the first place that will give you a clue on your roof’s life.

Termite Damage: If this is left unaddressed problems can make the entire home an unsafe place to live. An infestation can compromise the structural stability of a home. Termites are the sneakest of all the pests.

  • Look for rotting stumps or any decaying wood outside your home. If they have moved into those and it’s close to your home, there is a big chance they have found their way into your walls or other wooden areas.
  • Have you seen any mud tunnels or tubes? These would be where the termites build and work from the soil to the wood. You can find them in hidden, shady spots on foundations or crawl space cement blocks.
  • Wings. Termites shed their wings and you will find piles.
  • Damaged wood at structural bearing points.

Damage by termites can be found by poking wood with a screwdriver. Check first the extyerior and interior survaces of the foundation where wood is on or near the soil. Start in the basement with a flashlight and look for mue tubes. The best thing to do is get help from a professional pest control company.

Water Damage: Not only can this cause structural damage but health problems if the damage causes mold growth.

  • Look for dark or wet spots on the walls or ceilings.
  • Cracking, bubbling or flaking paint on ceilings or walls.
  • Damp, musty or mold smells.

Water damage happens a lot more often than you think. It does not matter if the home is new or old, it will result in some serious problems.

Septic Tank: If toilets and drains are clogged or backed up, draining very slowly or if there is standing water near your septic tank there might be an issue. Take notice:

  • Is the grass around your septic tank thriving more than anywhere else in the yard? That could mean a leak – once the water escaped the tank it acts as a fertilizer.
  • Are there trees or shrubs near the tank? Roots naturally seek out sources of water, including leaky pipes or even condensation. They can end up cracking septic tank pipes allowing dirt to enter or collapse the pipes.

The Bottom Line: Experts recommend saving 1%-4% of your home’s value per year for repairs and maintenance. If you don’t have the money and need to pay for home repairs, consider a home equity line of credit or home equity loan.

Share This Post

10 Easy Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

Many believe that to lead a more organized and inspired life, the clutter around you must be cleared. It’s simple: if your home is organized, your mindset will be too.

A clean and balanced home is actually a launching pad for many other goals and resolutions. So if you’re already starting to fail at some of your other 2019 resolutions, try this home resolution instead: find more space in your
home by clearing out the clutter! Follow these ten tips and I promise you it
will inspire you to complete your other resolutions and lead you to a more
organized and happier year!

Create room by removing the large and awkward food packaging. Purchase clear, air-tight containers, take the box of your food item, and cut out the product name, nutritional facts and expiration date. Tape them to the inside of your clear container and then seal the food.

Pantries Shelves
Arrange the food on your shelves to help keep your resolutions. Make “first choice” shelves for the food that you want to stay on that diet. Make shelves that are for the kids snacks or foods that you’re just not going to have on a regular basis anymore… You get the idea –some shelves are just for the once a week treat. Some are for every day.

Pantry Storage
If you like to buy in bulk, put the bulk of your paper goods in another location, perhaps a closet or the garage, and place only what you need in your pantry— restock as needed.

In the Kitchen
When storing pots, pans and other durable items, stack them on their sides
like files. This simple step not only creates more room, it also allows you to see exactly what you need. Caddies or sorters from a shelf or container store are great tools for vertical organizing. Have all this in mind in your next kitchen remodeling as well.

Place clothing in drawers vertically (not the traditional horizontal piles) because it not only maximizes space, it allows you to find items more quickly. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer.

If your shoes don’t have a place they end up in a pile taking up valuable
space. Place shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see
everything and tape their photo to the inside of their container with photo facing out. This little step gives you triple duty: more space, you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…

Organize by Color
Organize your closet and drawers dark to light. It can be great way to find out that you really have way too many black blouses… and you can keep your resolution of being a kinder gentler you by donating the extras!

Kids’ Rooms
Purchase bed raisers for under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room. 

A Baby’s Closet
Is there room to add another bar? Take advantage of the fact that baby clothing is smaller and if you can, add an additional bar to hang the clothing to maximize space. You can purchase pre-made closet organizers that you can customize to make the most out of baby’s closet.

The best trick to more space in your home, less is more! So if you find you have extra things laying around, throw a reverse housewarming party! You’ll be starting a new party trend. Set aside your unwanted items and instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, they are to pick one of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with friends, find your unwanted things a good home, and de-clutter all at the same time! 

Originally posted on

Share This Post

Making a Small Home Appear Larger

Are you putting your smaller home on the market to sell and want it to feel and look bigger inside so that it will appeal to more buyers? Or, did you just buy a house that was empty but now that you have moved your belongings in the home is tighter than you thought? There are plenty of ways to make each room look and feel bigger than it is. You don’t need to renovate or knock down walls to make a small room feel bigger—just incorporate these smart design moves to visually expand your space.

Declutter the room relentlessly. Really important and the first thing you can do to make any room look or feel larger. Get rid of things you don’t use or need. Unnecessary clutter can make a room feel small and cramped and make it harder to navigate around.

Use very light colors or very dark colors to give a room depth. Medium shades can make a room appear smaller, but when you use bright whites and deep dark paint colors, you create contrast, which creates depth and the illusion of a larger space. Lighter colors reflect light, making a room feel brighter and larger, while darker colors absorb light and make a room feel smaller and closed in.

Scale it down. Furniture in smaller rooms is all about proportions. To create a sense of roominess, always leave a little air in between the sides of your furniture and the walls. Avoid heavy, big pieces that take up a lot of usable area in the room. A sleek sofa or chair will give you as much sitting room as an overstuffed couch but will take up much less of your room. 

Rearrange furniture. By simply rearranging the furniture in a room and creating a different layout, you might end up with more space, open the room up, and make it easier to navigate. If there’s a piece of furniture in your room that doesn’t get much use, consider removing it to free up some space.

Reflections. Mirrors can make any room look bigger. Consider having at least one huge mirror in the room. Mirrors reflect light, therefore, make the room brighter. The reflection creates an optical illusion of a continuous space which is perfect for a small room.

Let the light in. If you have large windows in your room, don’t cover them up with dark, heavy curtains or blinds. Open them up and let all that natural light in. Hang your curtains higher and wider to make the windows look larger. It really draws the eyes upwards, making the room appear larger and taller. Or you could even forego window treatments altogether for a really open, fresh look.

Find the perfect rug. An area rug that is too small for a room can make the room feel much smaller. The best idea is to find a rug large enough that you can place the front feet of the furniture on it, such as couches or chairs. A nicely sized area rug allows the eyes to go from end to end of the entire room, which makes the room feel much larger.

Lighting and artwork. Fun and interesting light fixtures will draw your attention upward, creating an illusion of height. Hang paintings or artwork to add a focal point. One large painting works better than a group of several small pieces of art.

The Bottom Line: There really is an ‘art’ to living in a small home without feeling cluttered and/or cramped. If you are selling your home, ask your Realtor for advice. Don’t take offense if they think you should get “rid” of things, simply place them in storage. When you are pressed for room, every little decorating tip can help.

Share This Post

Ways to Make Your New House Feel Like Home

You negotiated a fair purchase price, closed escrow, and now you’ve moved into your new home, but there are some things that are not quite how you want them. In fact, according to IKEA’s 2018 Life at Home Report, 39% of Americans do not feel a sense of belonging in their residence. This statistic might seem jarring, since our homes are supposed to be where we feel most comfortable. But if you feel the same way, you deserve to feel comfortable, safe, and in your element in your own home. Fortunately, you can achieve that goal if you are ready to put in the work. 

Whether you’ve purchased a home that’s never been lived in before or has had several occupants, there are always going to be at least a few things that you will want to do to make it feel like your own. From simple adjustments you can do yourself like painting, to major renovations you will need a contractor for like replacing kitchen cabinetry, there are plenty of ways you can personalize your space and create that at-home feeling you have been missing. 

Renovate Key Spaces 

Renovating certain areas of the home can give the place a major facelift, by fully customizing the different aspects to your lifestyle. Whether you need to make more room by changing the layout of one or more rooms or you have eco-conscious renovations on your mind (low-flow fixtures, improved insulation, etc.), these changes can have a big impact on the household. 

According to a 2018 report by Houzz, the kitchen and bathrooms are still the top two most popular home renovations (and the most expensive). Other popular renovations include: 

  • Creating a more open floor plan by adapting living room spaces 
  • Upgrading the master bedroom to make more space for furniture 
  • Expanding closet space to create a walk-in closet with ample storage 

Keep in mind that contractors and their teams spend a lot of time in your home so you do not want to make this decision lightly. In addition to reading reviews, you should run background checks on all renovators. That way, you can ensure that you know who’s coming into your home. When choosing a background check service, just make sure you find a reputable company like ShareAble for Hires. 

Focus on the Master Bedroom

Your bedroom should be an escape from the demands of daily life, whether that applies to soaking in the tub after a long day, curling up on your chaise lounge to read on weekend mornings, or drifting off into a peaceful sleep that’s free of interruptions. However, if you have just moved in, there are likely some changes you will want to make to your new bedroom.

Some of the ways you can adapt the master bedroom include: 

  • Changing out the window coverings: For some, sunlight creeping in in the early morning hours is preferred, while others prefer to keep it cool and dark. Changing your window coverings from wood blinds to high-quality blackout screens or vice versa can help you adjust to your preference. 
  • Adding ceiling fans: If you want to keep your bedroom cool without constantly running the air conditioning, ceiling fans in the bedroom are a good investment. 
  • Swap the lighting: Overly bright lighting in the bedroom can interfere with the coziness and relaxation that you are probably seeking for this space. You might need brighter lighting in the closet, but near your bed or lounge area it should be more subtle. An easy fix is switching out the bulbs.

For many new homeowners, it takes some time to get comfortable. If you are having trouble adjusting to your new environment, try taking saffron for sleep. Over time, you will adapt to your room and it will feel like home, but in the meantime, this supplement by Objective Wellness can help you get the rest you need to do work around the house and attend to all of your other daily demands.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

Color plays a significant role in the tone of your decor and the overall mood of each room—which is why many new homeowners make painting one of the first items on their to-do list after moving in.  A fresh coat of paint, either to the interior or exterior of your home, can make your home look and feel like new.  

Whether the current colors are too dark for your taste, or you want to use some modern paint colors to liven up the space, the good news is that repainting your walls is a fairly affordable upgrade that you can do yourself, it just requires patience and time.

Add Personalization

Even if you buy a new-construction house that you have been thoroughly involved in planning, that is simply the shell of your home—there is still the interior to deal with. Being surrounded by blank walls can make your new home feel empty and sterile. Once the walls are painted to your liking, start hanging photos, art, and other elements of personalization that will make the house feel more like home. 

In addition to what’s hanging on your walls, there are other personalized aspects that will help you feel more comfortable in your space. Blankets and throw pillows help bring a homey feel to the living room and bedrooms, while decorative towels, flowers, candles, and other aesthetic touches can breathe life into your house. 

If you have not purchased your furniture yet, think of the style that best suits your personality and lifestyle. If you have a big family or frequently host gatherings, plentiful comfortable seating and a welcoming ambiance will be key. However, if you like your home to feel clean, organized, and picturesque, a minimalistic approach to decor will be key to enjoying your new space. 

Final Thoughts for New Homeowners 

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing your home come together, it is important to take a strategic approach to customizing and renovating. Consider the costs of the different projects you are taking on, without careful budgeting, you run the risk of overspending. In order to make sure you are able to make all the changes you want, without putting yourself in a less-than-ideal financial situation, make a list of your priorities and work your way through the. 

Of course, there will be certain projects that should be done before you get settled, or you will have to make a lot of extra effort later, but many of these tasks can be done over time. It is understandable that you want everything to be perfect, but focus on the projects at hand, and soon you will be living in the home of your dreams.

Share This Post

Choosing a Realtor

Looking for the best real estate agent, one that is an experienced professional who listens to your concerns and knows their market? That person might not necessarily work at the largest brokerage, close the most transactions, or make the most money. Real estate professionals have a saying that 20% of the agents do 80% of the business. Your goal is to find one among that that 20% to work for you, but it’s not as challenging as you might think. 

Read Reviews

Online reviews are one of your best assets when it comes to choosing a realtor. Read all of the reviews that you can find before selecting who you’ll work with, and look for an agent whose previous clients have only positive things to say about their experiences. However, if you read one with great reviews as well as c few complaints, be able to distinguish whether the complaints are about the individual realtor versus complaints about the stress of the home buying process itself.

Ask friends, families, coworkers, and anyone else whose opinion you trust if they have any local agent referrals. Previous buyers are one of your best assets for finding a great Realtor since they can speak honestly about their own experiences. Plus, you can trust that if someone you know is giving you a recommendation, chances are it’s because they enjoyed working with that agent and would work with them again.

Interview A Few Agents

Real estate pros urge buyers and sellers to interview at least three agents.

  • Always ask an agent for a list of recent references.
  • Ask each agent you’re considering how they plan to help you find the perfect home (for buyers) or market your home (for sellers)
  • Note how an agent responds to your inquiry. If the answer is fast, thorough, and informative, there is a good chance you will get that type of service throughout your buying or selling process.
  • Ask to be provided a list of their recent sales, not just a general number of sales or sales volume.

Listing Price Determination

No one, not even the best Realtor can tell you how much your home will end up selling for. Good Realtors will show you comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales in your neighborhood and surrounding areas. Ultimately, the buyer tells you the price that is right. The Realtor you choose should suggest a list price that will attract that buyer and then where it goes from there is up to the buyer.

Consider this:

  • To get a listing, sadly there are Realtors out there that will bend the truth. Since they can not guarantee a sales price, the Realtor that quotes you the highest price should be able to back that up with facts and figures. If the agent does not have any good stats, that might be a red flag.
  • Watch for the Realtor that gives you a range of prices that depend on factors such as location, the market and any improvements you have made in your home.
  • Pricing a home is an art. Realtors have no control over the market, only the marketing plan. If it is priced right, you’ll get an offer. Priced to high, you might not get a single showing and end up reducing the price leaving buyers to try to figure out what is wrong with your home.

Share This Post