The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Apartment Amenities You Don't Need

Searching for an apartment with the luxury amenities is not only a waste of time, but a bigger waste of money. You probably got super excited when you saw this complex has a gym, pool, washer and dryer combo, and a game center, but with the amount of time you will actually be using these things doesn’t compare to what it could cost you. Here are the seven top amenities that can end up biting you in the end.

Outdoor pool

Pools only work in Florida because the rest of the country has only a couple months in which they can use it. You’ll have four months tops to enjoy something you’ll be paying for all year. There may be a year here-and -there when summer ends and you realize you never even got in. There’s also a good chance this pool will be pretty puny, which isn’t conducive to a ton of fun.

Community deck

One giant deck serves a place for everyone to share a place to grill out, read the morning paper, and watch the sun go down. As great as all this sounds, the entire complex will be sharing it also, meaning there will be a battle for space. We all know the one guy who treats communal spaces as their own, and is anal about it, so keep him in mind thinking this is so great. There could also big crowds a few times a week who aren’t exactly quiet. If you are a social butterfly this could work for you, if not, you won’t be fond of this area.

Gym

Gyms are tricky because there are two sides to this story. Yes there’s a gym right below you and you’re all out of excuses to not workout. The other side is it’s tiny, and packed with other sweaty people. Chances are it doesn’t have a lot of little things we take for granted at a regular gym, like a kettlebell. The good news is you don’t have to pay for...

Every Tool A DIY Should Have in Their Toolbox

Before you move into any new rental unit, or home there is one item everybody needs. That item is a toolbox with the essential basics. This isn’t just the basic hammer and nails I’m talking about. Unless you are living in a house made of gold that doesn’t fall apart, you will need to put some work into it from time to time. You will be thankful you’ll have the right tools so you don’t have to call someone. Below are the list of essential tools every DIYer needs.

  1. Screwdriver set – This will be your most used tool is your bo0, as you will use it on almost everything. Pick up a quality drill, and different size Phillips, flat-head, screwdrivers.
  2. Hammer – Get yourself a hammer that feels heavy enough to get the job done, but also one that feels comfortable in your hand.
  3. Measuring tape – the 25-foot tape measurers are the perfect size. Get one that can lock with a toggle of a button. This will be used in nearly every home improvement project from hanging pictures and shelves, to measuring a room you plan on painting.
  4. Pliers – Locking pliers can handle almost every little task you come across, but if it’s a plumbing job you will want groove-joint pliers. Take a look at channel locks too, those are for the heavier plumbing projects.
  5. Utility knife and blades – Having a quality knife is one of the best tools you can have. It gets the job done every time, and you don’t have to use your kitchen knives or keys to cut items open. Keeping extra blades is handy too, this way you can change them easily and have a fresh blade ready.
  6. Adjustable wrench – tightening and loosening bolts will need to be done from time to time, so this is where this tool comes in handy.
  7. Level – Levels are some of the greatest tools in any box because it has the power to make everything symmetrical. Without it, pictures will be crooked. It can also serve as a...

Reasons to NOT Use the Inspector Your Agent Recommends

If you are new to the real estate world, you may think it’s common sense to use the inspector your real estate agent has recommended, but you should think twice. Yes you should trust them, and hopefully they have been around the block several times before, but there can be a few reasons to not go with their word of advice in this situation. Here are a couple reasons you might want to hire your own inspector.

Conflict of interest

It’s possible that the home inspector and the real estate agent have a conflict of interest. Your interest is in the detailed description of your home, while the inspector could be helping the real estate agent close the sale. It’s unlikely that either party would act unprofessionally, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Who’s the client?

Every inspector is supposed to work directly for the buyer, but the inspector and the real estate agent could have a long partnership together. If this happens to be the case, you could be getting the second best deal in the game, not the first. Ask a few questions if they’ve ever worked with your real estate agent before and if so that could be a red flag. They could get skimpy on the details, and push your inspection under the rug like it’s no big deal.

List of three

In most markets across the country, real estate agents provide a small list of three inspectors to their buying clients. Notably, these inspectors are professionals who come with quite a few references. Having skin in the game, they also risk not being included on that list if they give length and poor reviews time and time again.

The nagging feeling

Even if your inspection goes well, you can’t help but wonder if there’s...

Tackling Your Kitchen Clutter

Anyone who has a home knows that keeping your kitchen clean is a chore. It serves as the heart of the home where most family members spend most of their time. Chances are it’s used for more than eating purposes, so to keep it under control fro backpacks, books, mail, etc. these three simple steps should help you manage the monster.

Countertops

The biggest surface in the house is the countertops, and they serve as the best drop zone for everyone. When you go to cook you often have to maneuver around things, and reorganize your countertops. So a good way to eliminate this hassle is to establish a “clutter free” zone. This is a place reserved for food prep only.

You can always have another spot as the clutter zone, but you should clear it once-a-week. The key to being clutter free isn’t what you put up on the counter; it’s how often you clear it off.

Take notice of which kitchen tools and utensils you use regularly, and irregularly. Find another spot for the items you use irregularly, these items could be vases, decorative dishes, or coffee makers. Keep the items you use frequently close and accessible; if possible try to get them off the counter. A good spot, and decorative if done right, is to hang them on the wall. Knives, pots, pans can all be out of the way, hanging on the wall while looking nice.

Pantry

Pantries can be a dream come true, or a nightmare depending on your management of it. Take care of this room as it’s often the holder of your delicious food. Use the storage space to your advantage, and start to manage this room properly.

You first want to pull everything out of it. Wipe down the shelves and give the empty pantry a good cleaning. Next look at expiration dates and pitch accordingly. If items are nearing their expiration date, repackage them and put those back...

5 Common Misconceptions of Real Estate

The words Real Estate can be an intimidating word for some, but if you are inherently interested in buying or selling real estate, don’t let the word alone scare you. You may be surprised how easy it can be. Here are the most common misconceptions about real estate.

You don’t need a real estate agent with all the information on line

Having a professional real estate agent in your corner is the best thing you can do for yourself. You can read all you want about the process of home buying/selling, but the professional offers their knowledge of the market, which comes through experience. They can also be there to help you make sense of the data that slips between the lines, which you may not understand. Lastly they help you through the emotional part of purchasing/letting go of a home.

You need 20% down to buy a home

This is the biggest misconception for people. Millennials often believe this because they’ve got crippling student debt with no end in sight. Once the market crash in 2008, lending became difficult, and the finances of a deal could kill it instantly. Today you can get a loan with 3% down, but you will be required to buy Private Mortgage Insurance PMI. It also helps to have great credit, some hefty assets, and a healthy income.

My homes value is what the appraiser says it is

The true value of a home is determined by what a buyer is willing to buy it for, and what a seller is willing to sell it for. The appraiser gives the ballpark range in which you should consider. Keep in mind finishes, views, fixtures, and neighbors can affect your homes appraisal.

Spring is the best time to sell a house

Typically, buyers enter the market in the spring to get ready for the new school...

7 Secrets to Living in a Perfectly Clean House

We all know that one person whose house is always impeccably clean. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, their house is always spotless. It looks in tip-top shape, and smells awesome all the time. There is no secret to having a house like this. They have a routine they practice every day to make sure their house stays this way.

Here are the seven “secrets” to having a perfectly clean house all the time. Do them every day and your life will become clutter free, and you will even feel better about your house.

Baby wipes

Baby wipes serve way more purposes than to clean a baby’s butt. They are excellent household cleaners. They can wipe up spills, wipe down dusty furniture, and even remove stains (if you catch them in time).

One time paper machine

One of the best things you can do is to not let your mail pile up. Once they get home for the night and grab their mail, they open it and deal with it immediately. If they have to put it to the side for some reason, they deal with it ASAP. Don’t just push it to the side and think you’ll take care of it later.

House cleaning service

If you can afford house cleaning service then sign up for one. Most of the time, they do an excellent job and make yours much easier. IF they are going to do the bigger jobs of scrubbing baseboards and bathrooms, you will find much more time to do the day-to-day jobs.

Host parties

Having guests and parties regularly will keep you motivated to keep the house clean and looking good.

Excellent speed cleaners

In your laundry room, it’s a good idea to keep a stash of cleaning supplies ready. You’ll want to know...

What Pictures Can Save Your Butt When Renting

If you just moved into a new rental unit you may just want to get moved in as quickly as possible. You will also need to keep in mind your security posit your entire stay, from move-in day to move out day.

When you move in be sure to take a thorough look around and report the condition of the place. This could determine how much of your security deposit you receive back. 

The fool-proof way to do this is to take pictures of every nook and cranny in the apartment. Take extra pictures for areas that are questionable. If you are renting from a management company you can ask them for a move-in condition report, or you could print one from the Internet. Walk through the apartment with the landlord to sign off on any of the questionable areas.

The next step is to email the pictures to your landlord before you move-in and keep a safe copy for yourself. 

If you really want to be safe, walk around making a video of the place. Here is a list of six things you should picture or video before you move in.

Holes

Unless the last tenants did not have a single piece of art hanging on the wall, you should check for holes. They could have hung pictures, shelves, mirrors, etc. and if they go unnoticed by the management company, you will probably have to deal with them when you move out. And any holes you put in the walls you must repair as well. 

Carpet and flooring

Often time’s tenants are charged for spots on carpets that may or may not have been theirs. This is why it is important to keep a date-stamped copy of the photo. Floors experience wear and tear throughout its life, but you don't want to be held responsible...

The 20% Down Payment Debacle

If you are struggling to save your 20% down payment mostly because your rent is too damn high, you are not alone. Many Americans are finding this to be a crippling catch 22. It is also not helping the buyers’ market that homes are rising.

People use to save up for down payments with the help of a second job without much problem, but this has become somewhat rare since the recession. The trend now is to graduate from college, move home to pay off debts and get a job, and stash money for a down payment. These are the people who are looking to stay there for more than five years, and potentially raise a family.

New buyers also cannot quite meet 20%; forcing them to get private mortgage insurance. Despite having another bill to pay, your total mortgage payment will be less than your rent. Renters typically spend around 30% of their income on their rent, but homeowners usually spend about 20%.

If you’re in a market that is quite expensive, the lower down payment option could be a good deal for you. If you buy a $300,000 house and put down 5%, you could sell it in 10 years and have accrued the 20% down payment for your next home. If you budget right, you could even have money left for a few upgrades.

Everyone likes getting help from parents, so do that if you can! 

...

November's Mortgage Rate Update

This week’s mortgage rate has risen yet again! For a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, it settled on 3.83 which is up 17 basis points from last week. IT has been rising all week and finally landed where it currently is.

The Fed is talking about raising interest rates this December due to “strong job reports”. There are still other factors for the Fed to look at before they raise rates, but you should probably get ready to watch them hike.

For a 15-0year fixed mortgage the rate is 2.98, and for 5/1 ARMS its 2.99 percent. 

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First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes

Each of us has all bought something from an impulse buy. We buy it because we wanted it then, in that moment, and later regret it. From the trucker hat in the gas station, to the barely played guitar that sits in the corner of our room; these items all make us question why we bought it in the first place. None of these are life changers though, but what if one was? What if you bought something that could change your life if you couldn’t afford it? This often happens with first-time home buyers.  The process can be daunting and confusing, but having your agent in your corner will make this process no problem. The best thing you can do is to protect yourself from first-time buying mistakes.

Getting emotionally attached

Buying the most expensive item you probably have ever bought will come with some emotional attachment, but don’t let it become too prevalent. If you lose a house for whatever reason, you could spend a while mourning about the house you lost. Do yourself a favor and remember, it’s just a house, it doesn’t love you back.

Finding the home yourself

Yes you can look around all you want, but let you agent do most of the work. They know what you’re looking for (hopefully), and can even find homes that haven’t even been put on the market yet. Make them earn their dollar, because they are the professionals again not you.

Go directly to the listing agent

Do NOT go directly to the listing agent yourself. This is highly frowned upon, unless you know them personally, or have worked with the before. Your agent should go to the agent before you do, so let them.

Assuming the rules don’t apply to you

One of the best parts of owning your own home is, you are free...

What is Included in Builder Warranties and What's Not

Most people would choose to live in a brand new house over one that’s already been lived in. The reasons are simple, it has never been lived in, it has the newest amenities, and the next major repair won’t be for a long time (hopefully).

Builders often times boast their warrant when completing a new home, which is always what homeowners love to hear. It can be tricky when you don’t know what is and is not covered. As confusing as it could be, this is something you absolutely want to know, because they could be a big chunk out of your wallet if you get it wrong.

Here’s what you need to know about builder’s warranties.

Long and short term warranties

Long-term warranties are typically around 10-years, and these cover foundations. God forbid any cracks happen, but if they do within the first ten years, you are covered. Short-term is one to two years, and include stucco and drywall, but don’t include appliances.

Surely you will have more than two warranties

Builders usually offer “bumper to bumper” warranties which are one-year, and is everything but cosmetics. So if you kicked a hole in the wall, this is on you. More than this though, your plumbing and electrical HVAC is covered from 2 to 5 years. Keep in mind; you will also have different manufacturer’s warranties like shingles, windows, and appliances.

There’s such thing as a structural warranty, and the state requires the builder to provide a to-year warranty. This is not in very state though, so make sure you figure out if your state has one.

Covers a list of repairs

Expect to have a meeting with your builder in the first year after closing, but before the one-year warranty expires to go through the house and show him if anything isn’t working...

Dont Lie to Your Landlord

Nobody likes a liar; no matter how big or small, a lie is still a lie. You shouldn’t lie to anyone including your landlord as tempting as it may be. Yes the relationship between the landlord and the tenant is always a strange one, but it’s always best to keep those relationships in good graces. They hold the key to easy living, and they rely on you to keep them up to date with the condition of the property.

All states have different laws regarding renting properties, but there are a couple general rules to follow to save your butt in the long run. Look at our list and save yourself some money and a major headache by just telling the truth.

Breach of lease

Do not ty and be smooth by letting a friend stay with you and keeping it from the landlord. Hiding roommates from your landlord can affect everyone in ways you don’t realize. You may think the background and credit checks are typical formalities for renters, but it’s there to protect the landlord. This is to make sure you are a responsible tenant who would treat his property like your own.

When you skip the screening process and sublet your apartment without your landlord’s approval, you put your landlord at risk, as well as everyone in the entire building. Now it becomes a safety and liability issue. If you choose to break this trust, expect people in your building to dislike you, and even eviction.

Added expenses

You might be in trouble if your landlord discovers you’ve made a hefty DIY project. They are allowed to fine you for changing anything structurally they do not approve of. They can claim you’ve caused damage. If you have managed to sneak in a pet and the landlord finds out, they can provide you with a painful bill, and even terminate the lease. That security deposit you were planning on getting back, kiss it goodbye....

Common Fears of Selling Your Home

Having to sell your home is no simple task like taking the dog for a walk, or getting your car cleaned. It’s a huge, financial transaction with emotional ties, and practical implications. With all the stipulations of selling a home, and potential pitfalls, it could make anyone cower and forget about the idea all together. For those of us who are a little concerned, here are the biggest fears and how to handle them.

My house won’t sell

A home that sits week after week after week on the market is the number one fear for all sellers. This can be especially true if they are relying on the money from that home to buy another home. Rest assured any home can sell for the right price and right condition; it’s just a matter of the local market too. The moment you know you want to sell your house, talk to a real estate agent relatively soon. Plan ahead and know what you’re getting yourself into.

I’ll have to update my home to sell it

Most sellers know their homes need some work in order to attract a large group of potential buyers. Knowing is just half of the issue, the other half is actually doing it, and that part is often disregarded. The sooner they realize the condition of their home affects the sale price, the better off they will be. If you can afford to lose some money, leave some work for the next owner and do the bare minimum. If you are a good cleaner, stager, and repairman, you should get top dollar for your home. Ask the real estate agent for help on what you can do if you don’t know where to start.

My house won’t sell by my target date

If any major life event has you pressured to sell your home by a certain date, there’s no doubt about it you will be stressed. Realistically you are looking to get rid of it fast, which means putting...