You Can Sell Your Home in the Dark and Cold Month of January

Putting your home on the market to sell during an off-peak season is not the most optimal but if you hire a Realtor that knows your market well, even in January, you still can sell your home at a competitive price. If you are living in the Northeast, Midwest or other cold areas, the following are some ways that can help to sell your home faster and at a fair price during the darker months of January.

There are fewer homes being sold in January (and all Winter), which makes people nervous about putting their homes on the market. More home buyers are house-hunting in the Spring months when the weather is warmer, and the days are longer. But, you might be surprised to find out that Winter could actually be a great time to put your home on the market. The new year is a time when most people are back at work after the holidays and will often search the web for their next big move. If you are serious about selling your home, it should be online and marketed early to ensure they don’t miss this audience.

In most markets, because January isn’t a high selling month, you will need a very experienced Realtor to help price your home as it can be complex. You don’t want to scare off buyers by pricing too high or even too low, causing buyers to wonder what’s wrong with your house. When your home is put on the market in the winter, buyers often assume you are desperate to sell your home and may lowball you thinking you’ll sell for any price. Buyers house hunting during the traditional off-season of January, usually means they are eager to buy and more willing to negotiate the price.

One way you can spur some interest during cold January is to price your home slightly under comparable homes in order to draw in multiple offers. More offers tend to drive up the value of your home prompting more competitive bids from buyers who often will end up paying more than the initial asking price.

The real challenge might be to help dress up your home in dreary January weather. To help make your home feel more welcoming, shovel the walks, add outdoor illumination along paths, light candles indoors, add cozy throw blankets, have holiday-type smells such as cinnamon or cookies, but take down any holiday decorations.

Furthermore, during the cold, any problems you may have in your home can become more prominent including drafts and leaks. To help lessen these potential problems, crank up the heat so buyers feel toasty warm and will be less likely to notice any issues.

While it may be difficult to sell your home in January, it’s not impossible especially if you hire an experienced Realtor who knows your neighborhood well and can guide you to list your home at the best possible price. Sometimes, waiting to list your home during the beautiful Spring months when the sun is out and the trees are blooming and flowering can mean that you could miss out on potential buyers. Many Realtors will tell you, some of their best sales happened in the new year.

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Securing Your Smartphone

woman checking smart watch

As technology advances, so does the use of smartphones. How cool is it to be able to do just about anything online, while on the go? These devices are becoming more commonplace, and the number of mobile phone users around the globe is expected to exceed the 5 billion mark in 2019. Most people don’t leave home or work without having their phone in tow.

Whether it’s calling your coworker, checking your bank account or sending a quick email, smartphones have become the one-stop-shop for conducting business. Now, more than ever, smartphones are being targeted by cybercriminals due to their part in multifactor authentication to access computers, mobile banking and shopping accounts. These accounts often hold sensitive data, credit card information (PCI) and personally identifiable information (PII). As we move into a digital era for the home closing process, smartphones have become another place to review sensitive documents ahead of signing. With such important information being viewed and sometimes stored on your phone, it has become even more vital that you keep your phone secure.

It may be surprising, but the largest risk to your phone security isn’t hackers, it’s you. Forgetting your phone at the table when you leave a restaurant, losing it at the airport or having it plucked from your purse are far more likely scenarios than getting hacked. However, hacking devices is on the rise too, and your phone security strategy should take that into account. Activating the lock screen feature on all your devices is a good place to start. The screen automatically locks when the device is not in use, and it requires a passcode, fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock it. This step helps to ensure that no one can access your device if it is lost or stolen.

Here are some other great tips to help secure your mobile device:

  • Ensure your phone is always running the latest version of its operating system and apps by enabling automatic updates. These updates often are meant to fix security weaknesses in the software to reduce its chance of being hacked.
  • When downloading apps to your phone, only use trusted sources such as the Apple App Store, Google Play or the Amazon Appstore. Don’t trust every app on these stores, either. Many apps ask for overly broad permissions, are brand new and not fully tested, or are no longer updated, which could expose you to security vulnerabilities. Be sure to check reviews and for active updating before downloading an app.
  • Download a credible antivirus app recommended by a trusted source. Your device should be treated just like a computer and protected that way as well.
  • Many phones today come with software you can enable to remotely track your device if it’s lost or stolen. Even if your phone doesn’t come with this feature, or you would like expanded security options, there are many anti-theft apps available. These apps range from simply pinging your phone’s location to being able to remotely lock and wipe all content from it.
  • Regularly backing up your data is a great strategy to retain your information. Many phones allow you to set up an automatic backup to store photos, messages, apps and more. Knowing this information is backed up will make it easier to choose to remotely wipe your phone, if needed.

Overall, mobile devices add productivity and flexibility by providing access to resources at any time, from anywhere. Smartphones are becoming our constant companions, so we need to stay vigilant when it comes to mobile security.

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Do I Need A Realtor to Buy a House?


“Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house?” If you are having doubts, here are a few reasons that a Real Estate Agent is valuable during the home buying process.

Sure, you can look through the many internet real estate listings, but a knowledgeable Realtor can cut through all the fat, plus have access to other sites, know the neighborhood comps, have contact with other agents in town with “pocket listings” and sometimes know the background (or the “skinny”) on a few homes. A Realtor is going to do all the dirty work and guide you through it all.  They are going to research the market trends and other important information that can be tedious.

The housing market is immense, there are literally thousands of options available and it can prove to be difficult to narrow down which homes are even worth looking at.  Your Realtor will have data about crime rates, education options, local businesses, commute times, zoning codes and a lot of other information that will influence your final decision.

Once you fall in love with a home, a skilled Realtor will have been through many homes and is trained to look for issues that might be hidden to you. Once the problem  identified it can be addressed and the Realtor can ask for it to be repaired.

The vast knowledge of market conditions and comp sales coupled with the Realtor’s knowledge will help put together a competitive offer at the best possible price.  You will be given information on at current home conditions to find any issues that could be leveraged during negotiations. The Realtor knows how to navigate through the many documents plus be your voice when the negotiating begins.  If you end up with questions and concerns or are completely confused, your Realtor will be able to  clarify all the clauses, contingencies and jargon-filled fine print as well as find hidden fees and conditions that many people tend to skim over.

The Bottom Line: Anyone can shop for a new home without a Realtor. Buying and selling a house is one of the largest financial transactions people make in their lifetime. Realtors earn their commission by making sure you know exactly what you are doing. They are helping you through the many pages of documents required on the transaction. They are with you during the inspection (pest, foundation, furnace, sewer, electrical, plumbing, etc), appraisal and disclosure. It’s in your best interest to use the resources of a skilled Real Estate Agent.

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