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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.

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Clear to Close: The Closing Table

From Contract to Closing Table: Avoiding Pitfalls - Houseopedia

Your offer was accepted, the inspection is over, anything that needed to be resolved has been. The only thing standing between you and moving into your new home is the closing table.  What should you expect?

Preparing for the closing date:

Depending on how condensed your contract period is, you may receive the final settlement and HUD-1 statements with enough time to review them with your lender and real estate broker.  It isn’t uncommon, with the volume of new mortgages and refinances, to receive these documents just hours before closing.  Either way, you will have time at the closing table to have all your questions answered about the details and account for every penny of the transaction.

Prior to your closing, you will do a final walk-through of your new home with your broker to inspect its condition.  This is your opportunity to ensure all agreed upon inspection items have been completed, the condition of the home hasn’t changed from when you went under contract, and all contractual items are in the home.  The final walk-through is not an opportunity to re-inspect the home.

WHAT TO BRING TO CLOSING

Make sure to bring a form of government issued identification for the closing agent to verify you are, in fact, you.

You must bring funds that are immediately available for withdrawal, which includes wire transfers, cashier’s checks, or teller’s checks.  Title companies vary slightly as to what they will accept as good funds, so ask your Realtor before you gather documents. The actual dollar amount you will be required to bring to closing will be derived from the settlement statement prepared by the title company.

AT THE CLOSING TABLE

The closing is usually held at a title company location that is convenient to both parties of the transaction.  Most closings will include the seller and seller’s agent, buyer and buyer’s agent, lender, and the closing agent.  With more complex transactions there may be attorneys present for one or both sides.

There are three parts of the closing, the first two parts pertain to transferring the real estate from the seller to the buyer.  This includes all the documentation and accounting for the transfer.  If you are borrowing money, you will need to complete the third and final part, paying for the home.  This portion will contain the majority of documents and disclosures required by your lender.  Your lender should be present to answer any questions you may have during this section.

The keys!!

Once all the documents have been successfully signed and all money dispersed, you are now the proud new owner of the home!  This will also be a good opportunity to ask the seller any additional questions you may have about your new property.  It is also a good idea to exchange contact information in case questions arise during the move-in process.

The bottom line

Though it may seem like the closing process is a lot of complex work, it’s worth the time and effort to get things right instead of hurrying up and signing a deal you don’t understand. Be wary of any pressure to close the deal fast. Real estate agents and other entities helping you will want their cut, but they won’t be around to care about the problems you could face in the long run from a bad deal.

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Bathroom Changes to Sell a Home

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One of the most effective ways of improving a home’s desirability to buyers is a great bathroom remodel.  Bathrooms are always high on potential buyers’ lists, therefore making an investment in updating your home’s could possibly be one of the best options for increased resale value.

  • Repair and Repaint: Cleanliness is important and a fresh coat of paint will make a big impact. Match the paint color to the existing tile or stone for the most expansive, modern look. If you have ceramic tile that is perhaps a little too colorful already, a simple white paint on the walls will be the easiest choice.
  •  Improve storage space: Storage is important in the bathroom. Add improved options with a deeper medicine cabinet, storage above the toilet and adjustable shelving in the linen closet, if there is one. Installing pull-out shelves in a vanity is also a great way to expand storage space.
  • Replace all fixtures, faucets and door hardware: Much like fashion, the right jewelry will make a simple outfit look like a million bucks. There is nothing like a brand new faucet set to spruce up the sink area and add sparkle … not to mention the fact that old fixtures are harder to keep clean, can be rusty and simply look tired. Purchase a new toilet seat or if your budget allows, completely replace the toilet itself.
  • Replace the vanity or pedestal sink: If the countertop is in good condition, a simple paint job on the vanity will be an quick DIY upgrade. Pedestal sinks are often classic in design style and don’t usually look out of date. However, they don’t offer any storage and if space is needed, a new vanity might be the right choice.

Even some minor upgrades to bathrooms can make a big impact on buyers. Some of these less expensive options would be:

  • Paint or refinish cabinets instead of replacing them.
  • Install a new toilet (white and comfort height, with an elongated bowl).
  • Add new lighting, like sconces that give a high-end look.
  • Include a new mirror or recessed mirrored-front medicine cabinet.
  • Update hardware and make it match throughout, including knobs, pulls, the vanity light, faucets and towel bars
  • Replace scratched or cracked countertops (consider buying a prefabricated vanity with the counter included for ease and affordability)
  • Deep clean — getting rid of rust stains, scrubbing every surface and recaulking can make a big difference.

Get in touch with a Realtor that has the most knowledge about your neighborhood. Learn what buyers are looking for right now. Get an expert opinion, get several opinions and see just what type of updating and repair work would be required to sell your home for a good price. Do you need to update the bathroom, or just give it a good clean and paint?

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How to Decide Between Renting and Owning

The possibility of owning a home is exciting, but it’s easy to get swept up in the glamorous and fun aspects of this buying decision. While it can still be a fun process, deciding whether to rent or buy is a difficult personal decision that requires the thoughtful consideration of a variety of factors. 

Due to the immense financial investment, long-term commitment, and overall risk associated with buying a home, you’ll need to analyze your financial situation, the current housing market, and your goals to determine whether renting or buying is right for you. While it can be a substantial risk, especially if you don’t plan carefully, it can also be a highly beneficial investment.

Weighing the general pros and cons and cons is one thing, but when it comes to making the right choice for your lifestyle, it comes down to evaluating the hard facts of your personal situation. To start you off on the right track, there are some important questions to ask yourself to help guide your decision.

Is It the Right Time to Buy? 

It’s important to understand where the housing market stands right now so you have a basic understanding of what you’re entering into purchasing property.

Timing is everything when it comes to buying a home. You need to consider whether it’s a buyers’ or sellers’ market, what seasons see the most competition, and how the current state of the economy will affect mortgage rates, the ability to get approved for home loans, and property prices. 

As we saw with the Great Recession, we are now experiencing stock market issues and job losses which are impacting the housing market. This is all due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has halted normal life for most people. Even after things begin to return to normal, the effects the pandemic has had on the economy and individual financial situations is expected to last for quite a while. 

According to Whiterock Locators, here are some of the current housing market issues you should be aware of:

  • Lending restrictions are becoming more rigid
  • Salaries are not increasing at the same rates they used to
  • Housing costs are high with an average of over $300,000

With this information in mind, you can determine whether now is the right time to even consider purchasing real estate.

Can You Afford to Buy?

According to iProperty Management, buying is more affordable than renting in about 64% of U.S. housing markets, which is why many people who’ve been content renting are now considering taking the leap into homeownership. However, one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is, “Can I afford to buy?”. 

Whether it’s a home, apartment, or condo, purchasing real estate is an investment. First, you have to save for the down payment. While in the past, down payments have traditionally been 20%, that requirement has become much lower with the many new loan options available—especially if you’re a first time buyer. 

Down payments are typically much lower nowadays; the average down payment was 6% in 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors. That said, it’s still a lump sum of money (usually upwards of $10,000) that you need to have in-hand at the time of purchase—which is no small feat for many people who have barely surpassed living paycheck-to-paycheck or are now unable to make rent because of COVID-19 layoffs.

Buying a home requires more than just saving up the down payment. You also have to consider the many other costs associated with homeownership, such as: 

  • Mortgage payments
  • Insurance
  • Homeowners’ Association fees
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Emergencies 

Not to mention, many of your bills may be higher if you’re moving from an apartment or condo to a full-size home. 

If you’re uncertain about being able to manage any of these costs, and you’re finding places to rent in your budget, you may want to keep renting until you can save up or increase your income. 

Is Your Financial Situation Stable?

While you can never be absolutely sure that your job is stable, you should consider certain factors to determine whether your financial situation is reasonably sound. To get a general idea, ask yourself: 

  • Have you been in the same job for more than a year (at least)? 
  • Do you plan on staying in the same career or is a change on the horizon?
  • Do you have savings to help cover the cost of emergencies? 
  • Are you able to afford your estimated mortgage payment without making significant changes to your current budget? 

If you said yes to all of these questions, then you likely have a stable financial foundation to at least consider buying. However, you should also think about whether any other major changes could affect your stability now, or any time in the near future. For example, is it likely that you’ll need to purchase a new car, go back to school, or welcome a baby into your family? If so, it may be better to hold off and stay in your rental until you’re more certain that your finances won’t be fluctuating. 

Are You Planning to Put Down Roots?

If the possibility of moving is in the cards for you, you may want to hold off on purchasing a home. Unless you’re looking to flip the property, buying is typically best if you’re looking to put down roots since it’s a long-term investment. After all, most mortgages are 15 to 30 years. 

However, if you live in a highly competitive region where it’s fairly easy to find reliable renters, buying a home that you can turn into a rental property may be a smart investment. Plus, if you decide to move back, you’ll have somewhere to come back to without having to search for a rental. 

That said, for most people who think moving somewhere else is a possibility in the near future, or those who plan to travel long-term, it’s probably best to stick with renting for now. 

Final Thoughts on Renting vs. Owning 

When it comes down to it, only you can decide whether renting vs. owning is right for you. As rental costs continue to increase, for more and more people, it will likely be the latter. However, the answers to these questions will be your guide to whether you are ready to seize the opportunity and start building your own equity, or if you need the flexibility of renting for a while longer while you sort out your finances and life plan. Either way, starting the conversation to consider homeownership is a step in the right direction so you can start planning for the future and buy when you are ready

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Financial Essentials to Prioritize when You Own a Home

Owning a home is one of the biggest and most important, if not the biggest and most important, financial responsibilities people take on in their lifetimes. Knowing which financial priorities to put first can be challenging, and many first-time homeowners can feel lost in the confusing world of mortgage payments, property taxes, and equity ownership.

We’ll help you clear a few things up. This post will walk you through which financial essentials you need to prioritize when you own a home. Whether you’re considering buying a home in the future, you’re a first-time homeowner, or you just need a refresher, check out this list to help get your home finances on track. 

Mortgage Payments

You guessed it: the first thing that you should absolutely prioritize when you own a home is making payments on your mortgage. A mortgage is a loan from a bank; the bank purchases the house, then you pay them back for it with interest.

For most people, purchasing a home outright isn’t exactly an option, so a mortgage is a way to make homeownership affordable. Mortgages require that you pay back the money you borrowed in monthly installments, so if you own a house, making sure you pay those installments is essential.

If you fail to pay your mortgage on time for a number of months, you may be subject to penalties imposed by the bank from which you borrowed the money. If you get far behind enough, you may get evicted. A good idea is not to take on a mortgage that requires payments more than 30% of your monthly income. However, the lower, the better.

Emergency Fund

Life happens. You might lose your job, or be faced with a large medical bill, or face expensive car repairs. That means that establishing an emergency fund is an important part of homeownership, as your ability to keep up mortgage payments will depend on having enough cash around in case your usual revenue stream dries up.

How much should you have on hand? The exact amount will vary depending on your personal finances. However, a good rule of thumb is to have somewhere between 3 and 6 months’ worth of wages saved up and easily accessible.

That may sound like an insurmountable task, but if you’re diligent about saving, it can be done. Start by aiming for having 3 months’ worth saved up. Then, once you’re there, slowly and steadily try to keep saving until you hit 6 months. Even if it’s a slog, your future self — the one with a sudden emergency — will thank you. 

Upkeep & Expenses

The next financial essential to prioritize is the regular upkeep, maintenance, and expenses that come with owning a home. Many first-time homeowners are surprised by how many unforeseen expenses pop up when you have a house. Here are a few to keep in mind: 

  • Gardening & housekeeping
  • Plumbing repairs
  • Electrical repairs
  • HOA fees (if they apply)
  • Reroofing, when necessary

Another expense to keep in mind is the property tax rate in your area. Property tax rates vary by state and by county, so you’ll need to research your specific county’s tax rate to know how much to set aside. Even for those who have completely paid off their mortgage, property taxes remain an expense to plan ahead for. 

Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list, and something might come up that you hadn’t anticipated at all. If you plan ahead, however, and keep money stashed aside to put toward housing needs, you’ll be in a much better financial position to tackle expenses as they arise. 

Childcare

Not everyone who owns a house decides to have children, but for many, owning a home coincides with starting a family and having kids. If that’s your situation, and you’re considering having kids, it’s key that you financially plan ahead to the many expenses that come along with them.

Here is a handy list of a few of the expenses that come along with having a child, so you can more easily factor them into your budget:

  • A two-bedroom home, so your child can have their own room
  • Monthly baby care expenses like diapers, baby food, and doctor’s visits
  • Larger grocery budget to account for children’s meals
  • School supplies and expenses related to school trips and events
  • Children’s clothing and shoes
  • Medical expenses, like doctor’s visits, prescription medicine, vaccinations

If you do plan on having kids in the near future, or you already have some, It’s important to factor in all these expenses before deciding on a home to purchase. 

Your Will

Lastly, it’s critical that homeowners consider their wills. As we stated before, your home is often one of the biggest, most important purchases of your life. For many, it’s the largest asset they own. That means that, if they should have an untimely passing, knowing who the home will transfer ownership to is essential. 

It’s an unpleasant thing to have to think about, but in the long run, your next of kin will be glad for it. All too often, people pass on without having established a will, which can lead their family to fight over the property and assets that the deceased has left behind. In order to save your family that pain and frustration (in addition to the pain they would feel if you did pass away), it’s wise to establish a clear and direct will. 

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry; you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources available for those who want to establish their will. Online will services are one accessible option that many choose to use. You may also simply see if there are any law firms in your area that will help you put your will together.

Owning a home is a huge financial responsibility. However, with the right planning and prioritizing, you’ll find that the satisfaction of owning your own home is well worth all the financial effort that goes into it. 

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Kitchen Changes to Sell a Home

First Friday Feature: An Updated and Modern Kitchen | Kitchen ...

The kitchen is king. A newly renovated kitchen can help you sell your home for more money and sell your home faster. But, before you take on the work, prospective sellers should talk to the Realtors local to them and find out how they compare to the rest of the market. Find out what their home, their kitchen in this instance needs to have for the buyers out there looking for a new home. Often the kitchen can make or break a home sale. Kitchens can be the deciding factor.

Clean

The cheapest thing to do is to start with an immaculately clean kitchen. Clear counters of clutter and remove any items from the tops of cabinets and the refrigerator. This makes the kitchen appear larger and getting rid of any personal items will help potential buyers focus on seeing their own things in the area.

Paint

Fresh paint is a relatively inexpensive way of changing the entire look of a room. Opt for light, neutral colors. There is an endless amount of primers and paints available now, making it easy to really make a transformation. Sometimes just cleaning and painting is all it takes to make your kitchen look totally transformed!

Cabinets

It might not be in the budget to change out the cabinetry completely, but there are little things that can be done to create a total makeover.

  • Replace doorknobs and drawer pulls with classic finishes such as brushed nickel or stainless steel for a brand new look. Hardware stores carry a variety.
  • Painting cabinets always make an instant upgrade. Ask a knowledgeable Realtor what color is the most popular. Add a pop of color by simply painting the inside of the cabinets.

Backsplash

Have some fun with this update. Make a bold statement or blend it into the background. If it is outdated, it’s fairly simple to replace it DIY. This is a way to help make a kitchen stand out from the others on the market. Realtors often select subway tile and while white is the most popular, a color can be used to coordinate with the countertops.

Flooring

Refinish wood floors or replace broken ceramic tiles. For scratched, torn, or faded linoleum, it might be time for a complete redo. Most Realtors will confirm that hardwood flooring is the biggest preference closely followed by tile. Consult with a good Realtor on which is the best seller in the neighborhood.

Countertops

A bigger job but can make an incredible difference in the kitchen. If changing the countertops and living in the home for a time before selling it, install what is enjoyable to live with but will also add value. If changing countertops to sell a home, upgrade to the standards of the neighborhood.

Lights

Replace old and outdated light fixtures with pendant lights. Spray paint any brass fixtures. Upgrading lighting fixtures can help improve potential buyers’ first impressions. Buyers all know they will spend most of their time in the kitchen and proper lighting is a good purchase. Proper lighting can make the difference between a dull room and a rich first impression.

Stage

Potential buyers want to envision themselves and their “things” in the kitchen. Again, have a Realtor that will speak the truth of what should be done.

  • For eat-in kitchens, use a smaller table and chairs to make the area appear larger. Place a throw rug under the table to define the separate space.
  • A few well-placed plants bring life and warmth.
  • Add gourmet touches to your now cleared counters such as a bowl of polished fruit, a full bottle of herbed olive oil, or a small wine rack.
  • Polish fixtures, replace light bulbs, and dust every corner.
  • Remove magnets from the refrigerator to help depersonalize.
  • Window treatments should be light or neutral colored.
  • Stow cleaning products under the sink.

The Botton Line: First impressions really matter in Real Estate. Within seconds, we all decide whether we like something or not. The house might be in the best neighborhood, but if the first impression isn’t up to par, it will be tough to sell. And, again, the kitchen is still king when selling a home and a “modern, updated kitchen” tops the list every time in surveys.

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Get Outside and Update the Outside of Your Home to Sell

Spring Curb Appeal: The Colors of SpringBECKI OWENS | Exterior ...

Spring has always seemed to be the best time of the year to sell a house. The trees and flowers are blooming and people are tired of being stuck inside, especially now when the world has been in COVID lockdown. The change in season brings the most buyers that are searching for a home and right now, they are simply doing drive-bys. So, if you are getting ready to put your home on the market, remember the importance of your curb appeal.

One of the most impactful ways to boost your home’s curb appeal is to clean up your current landscaping. Remove any yard debris left over from winter. Trim the hedges, prune flowers to make way for new ones or encourage new growth on your perennials and add some fresh greenery and flowers. Right now, in most states, nurseries hard doing curbside pick up and the big box stores are still open and have a good choice of flowers, etc. and at pretty good prices.

Update your front door. This is the home’s exterior focal point — ramp up the appeal by painting it a rich hue, updating door hardware, or adding a new knocker. You can always replace your front door or add a screen door. But if an entirely new door isn’t in the budget, painting it is just fine. A new color can transform the look not only of the door itself but the entire front of your house.

If you have a lawn, May is the best time to re-seed or add sod if it looks like it’s coming back patchy. Mulch flower beds with a natural mulch to help the soil retain moisture and give the beds a finished look. Keep the lawn freshly mowed.

Clean windows and siding. Give your siding a fresh start this spring by washing off the dirt, road salt, and cobwebs using a power washer or a regular hose with washing attachment. A hose with a window washing attachment can get windows shiny and clean. Just remember to clean inside windows too for the most sparkle.

Determine what type of lighting will enhance the look and safety of your home. Common exterior lighting includes pathway, landscaping, porch and security lights. If you’re adding a front porch fixture, make sure the size is proportionate to your space to create a sleek and inviting look. The fixture you select should support the total wattage you need for proper illumination. Be sure to keep in mind the availability of outdoor outlets. You may want to consider solar powered outdoor lighting.

The Bottom Line: People are itching to get out of their homes from being trapped inside. The stay-at-home orders will be lifted and when they are you will want your home to be in shape, or to be at the top of someone’s list to see. If they only driving by, make your home stand out to them.

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5 Ways to Make Your Laundry Room Work Better for Your Family

With most home washers and dryers stuck in a basement cellar or dingy garage, it can be hard to get laundry to feel like anything other than a boring chore. It feels counterproductive to handle laundry in a space that’s not pristine, and with no structure or space to a laundry room, those clean clothes too often become piles of unfolded laundry cluttering up other rooms in the house. 

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to spruce up your laundry room to make it a better place to wash, dry, and fold clothes for your family. From creative storage to just the right lighting, here are five ways to make your laundry room work better for your family

Close Off Your Laundry Room

First things first: make your laundry room into a distinct section of the house or room. If your washer and dryer are currently in a corner of a larger room, basement, or garage, create a distinct divider that makes the room its own space. 

Your laundry room may be more of a laundry closet, but you can still use a trendy divider that will help keep the laundry out of sight when you have company over or just can’t think about folding socks right now. For minimum effort and cost, a curtain rod and curtains can provide that division in any design you desire. 

Closing off your laundry room will not only separate your dirty laundry from the rest of your house, but also will provide a sound barrier so you won’t complain about the noise your washer and dryer make.

Other dividers, like barn doors or bamboo panels, are other great ideas based on the layout of your laundry room and the decor style of your house. You don’t have to break the bank to update your laundry room but it might be wise to factor in these costs as part of your financial goals for the year.

Install Good Lighting

Too many laundry rooms feel dim or dingy because the basement or garage lighting is subpar. Treat your laundry room lighting like any other room in the house, and invest in making it work for the space you have

Strong overhead lighting might be the best choice for your laundry room, but consider softer, subtler recessed lighting or lighting dedicated to your work surfaces for the best experience. If your laundry room is large and may function as a utility room for other projects as well, be sure to take that into consideration too—you’ll want excellent lighting if you’re ever refinishing furniture or mending torn clothes. 

Good lighting in your laundry room helps brighten the space and makes it feel like a place you want to spend time, rather than a place you are obligated to visit. 

Choose the Right Sink

No laundry room is complete without a sink. Hand wash your delicates, rinse out stains, and use it as a general utility sink for messy household projects. The best laundry room sink for your family can be a great improvement and will depend on a variety of factors, including laundry room space and whether you intend to use it for more than just rinsing clothes. 

Utility sinks are popular for many laundry rooms, as they have a large volume and deep basin. This makes it easy to thoroughly rinse out any article of clothing, even bulky things like jeans and sweaters. They’re also ideal for other household needs, like watering plants or even washing pets. 

These sinks are often installed as standalone items, but you can incorporate them into the rest of your laundry room with creative coverings to make a flat surface for folding and hide storage underneath. 

If you don’t have the space or budget for a massive utility sink, a smaller sink of any sort will still make it easier to do laundry. Make sure you install it near the washer for easy transfer of wet items, and try to preserve as much counter space as possible for folding. 

Choosing a quality sink will not only allow for ease of use, but should also hold up over time. Buying a sink that can stand the test of time is hugely important when owning a home, especially as you get older and can’t do so many repairs on your own. Quality fixtures could help boost the value of your home, which is important if you choose to sell or apply for a reverse mortgage loan

Get Creative with Your Storage

First things first in an ideal laundry room: clear the detergent bottles and dryer sheets off the top of the dryer. This feels like an inevitable layer of clutter in your laundry room, but without it, your laundry room will immediately feel a hundred times more pleasant. 

There are dozens of ways you can set up your laundry room storage in a way that works for you. Cabinets over your workstation or shelves and drawers in between them are common and simple solutions for most houses. Simplifying your space with a minimal approach can have an impact on your mood and clean sheets never hurt a good night’s sleep.

If you have a closet-sized laundry room, a simple shelf above the washer and dryer can hold all the laundry room essentials. Or, some washer and dryer models come with an optional storage drawer underneath the machine, another great option for tiny spaces. 

Regardless of the storage setup you have, don’t let empty bottles of detergent and fabric softener clutter up your space. Get rid of anything no longer being used, and keep smaller items like Tide pens or sewing kits in organizational bins on your shelves. When your laundry room feels neat and tidy, it won’t feel so tedious to do laundry. 

Set Up a Folding Station

The hardest part of doing laundry is getting it from dryer to dresser, neatly folding it in between. We’ve all said we’ll fold it later, only to find a laundry basket full of clean clothes on the couch or dining room table three days later. 

The solution? A folding station right in your laundry room. All you need is a flat surface, which can be in the form of a separate table or just a section of countertop along your washer and dryer. 

Folding clothes within the laundry room keeps the chore of laundry contained to one space instead of taking over your house. You can also build your folding station to precisely the height you’d like to fold clothes, instead of uncomfortably half-sitting on your couch or bed. 

To really level-up your laundry room game, install a curtain rod to hang-dry delicate items that can’t go in the dryer. It’s simple to install and creates a designated space to dry those articles of clothing, rather than hanging them in the bathroom or somewhere else inconvenient. 

Your Laundry Room Can Be Better!

Don’t just take our word for it—start organizing your laundry room today and see how much better it feels to have a special space just for that dreaded chore. Keeping laundry in the laundry room makes it an easier chore to manage and you just might get it done faster. Create a space you like to be in and see how much better your laundry can be done. 

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Terms You Hear at a Closing

There are many factors to consider when buying a home. When it comes to the closing process, it is a good idea to know the terminology that will be discussed. This can help make the situation much more comfortable and professional for all parties involved. Below are some of the terms that may be discussed during the closing process.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR) This term reflects the cost of all credit and finances as determined by the length of a year, including the interest rate, points, broker fees, and other credit charges obligated to the buyer. Simply put: this is the price you pay to borrow the money to buy the home. There will either be a fixed APR or a variable APR. A fixed APR means the APR doesn’t change based on an index during the life of the loan. Because of this, fixed APRs can be more predictable when it comes to budgeting.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI)  This term is insurance coverage that homeowners are required to have if they’re putting down less than 20% of the home’s cost. Basically, PMI gives mortgage lenders some backup if a house falls into foreclosure because the homeowner couldn’t make their monthly mortgage payments. The charge is usually included in the monthly mortgage payment in an attempt to protect the lender from a possible default.

DOWN PAYMENT Like many transactions involving large sums of money, the mortgage process involves a down payment – the amount a home buyer pays in order to make up the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage amount. Some experts advise no less than 10% to 15%. However, any amount over 20% of the purchase price is often recommended, and may be required to avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance.

LOAN ESTIMATE (LE) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, requires your lender to issue a Loan Estimate within three business days of receiving your mortgage application. All relevant loan data, including estimated monthly payments, the cost of interest and your interest rate are included. You can also review other costs associated with the loan, such as recurring taxes, one-time costs, fixed fees and negotiable fees.

It is important to note the loan estimate is designed to provide the potential terms of your loan. Lenders will request additional financial data from you to complete the loan documents. However, the ability to change terms is limited, particularly in certain cost categories.

CLOSING COSTS This term refers to the expenses, over and above the price of the property, that buyers and sellers normally incur to complete a real estate transaction. Closing costs may also be referred to as transaction costs or settlement costs and may include various fees and charges associated with finalization. These may include or be related to application fees, title examination, title insurance, property fees, as well as settlement documents and attorney charges.

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Selling Your Home with Video

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With today’s technology, house hunting has gotten easier. Buyers can view properties in great detail, without ever leaving the comfort and safety, especially in the current COVID-19 lockdown, of their home. Hiring a Realtor with the knowledge of video technology is in your best interest as a seller.

Tips for Selling Your Home with A Video

1. Research Other Videos – Do a comprehensive search on the internet for the best examples you can find of home-selling videos. Look at how they are produced. What did you like about them? What drew you in? Videos that are shorter, well lit, made with a stable (not shaky) camera, and have great content continue to sit at the top of the pile for buyers.

2. Focus on Strong Points – Why did you buy your home? What inspired you to buy it? Did you do renovations? Any new appliances? Custom features? These answers should be highlighted to sell the home. You don’t need to go through each room. Less is more. Tape the best features and grab that buyer’s attention and leave them wanting more.

3. Showcase Outside Features – Bring the video outside and focus on the updated features, if any. Show your landscaping, even scan around the neighborhood. Do you have an incredible view? Show it. Capture attractive blooming flowers, snow-covered features, healthy green lawns, and any other features that made you love your home.

4. Hire A Professional Videographer – It is possible with today’s technology to shoot your own videos with relatively simple video cameras and tripods – even smartphones – but do you have the skill to create and edit the video, as well as post it on social media and on a website and then to use a proper description and title to show up on search engines?

Hiring a professional for the video and then a Realtor for the selling process is the best avenue to take. Together they can both advise you on the best way to stage and prep your home for filming. If you search you will probably be able to find a Realtor with the skills to take beautiful videos.

5. Prepare Your Home –  Keep the filmed areas clean and uncluttered, with open arrangements and no personal effects. It is important for viewers to visualize themselves and all of their belongings in the home. With a well-done video, you are more likely to sell your home quickly and at the very best price.

The Bottom Line: If you really want to impress home buyers, you should enlist the power of visual storytelling. A compelling video not only immerses potential buyers into the experience of your home but also establishes an emotional connection by highlighting what makes it special. While photography will always be essential to the real estate marketing mix, a well-produced video can make a home come to life in ways that even the best photography can’t.

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