The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Bad Habits Homeowners Need to Break For 2017

Well it’s the end of the year again, and you know what that means; time for New Year’s Resolutions! Instead of doing what everyone says they’ll do like lose twenty pounds, or travel more, etc. we are taking a real estate approach.

Throughout the course of a year a home can endure a lot of abuse. The cracked tile, a leaky pipe falling to the ceiling, etc. can eat a chunk out of your finances when it’s time to sell. In order to not lose that money, homeowners need to be responsible and be good to their property by taking on regular maintenance and routine projects to upkeep with the house.

But with time, and breaking a few bad habits, you can save a decent amount of time and money.

“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” – mentality

Completely wrong; all appliances, furnaces, hardwood floors, and paint, need regular maintenance. The exterior of homes need a new paint job every five years even if it doesn’t look like it needs it system filters need to be replaced or cleaned monthly.

What you can do instead is read maintenance instructions whenever you buy or install something new. Household items tend to work best when they are taken care of as instructed by the manufacturer.

 Don’t hang dry cleaning on door knobs

Everyone is guilty of hanging clothes on door handles. Sometimes people go beyond clothes and hang purses, gym bags, and things of the sort. This can actually put a lot of pressure on the door knob and knock it out of alignment. It’s pretty lazy really, and is quite the eyesore. Instead go to your local hardware store and grab a two headed hook to mount on your wall or door for $2.

Wearing shoes inside

Shoes are dirty and they track in all kinds of dust, germs,...

Secrets to Sell Quickly in 2017

The hardest part of selling your home is deciding you are ready to sell it. Timing is also a big part of it too; but 2017 is going to be a good year for sellers. If this isn’t your first rodeo in selling your house you know the process. Find a real estate agent, tidy the house up, take photos, and get the paperwork ready.

With technology today accompanied by today’s uncertainty in the market, it’s important for greenies and veteran sellers to take advantage of the best tips to sell your home quickly in 2017.

Have the right agent

Professional agents should know the market like 2nd grade math. They should know every neighborhood, and if they’re really good, every block. They’ll know which neighborhoods are selling hot, who is moving where, and how to stage a home properly.

Emphasize listing photos

Homes should be represented well in their listing photos. The photos are what draw potential buyers in; so home’s needs excellent photos that catch all the buying eyes. These photos make your home standout.

Consider the latest technology

Professional photographers may not be enough for some edgy sellers. They may use all the bells and whistles, like getting a drone to take a video of the property, or using a 3-D tour throughout the house.

 Going social

Good agents know how to market, and in today’s market the best bet is online. Good agents will not only use the MLS or their website, but all the social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Freshen the home

The most basic way to freshen up a home is a quick coat of paint. It makes the walls look crisp while...

Pitsfalls to Buying Homes In Winter

Winter isn’t exactly known as the best time to buy a home, but it can be a great time to steal a deal on a home. Be careful though, there are several mistakes that can happen during your winter purchase, so watch out for these.

Too much Holiday debt

Holidays are meant for buying, but be careful not to accumulate too much debt. During your process of buying a home, do your best not to add to the debt you’re already about to undertake. Even if you have good credit, adding to debt through holiday shopping will change your debt-to-income ratio, which could change your monthly payment, or even disqualify you from your preapproval.

Forgetting to see the big picture

Homes aren’t always the most appealing during the winter with their leafless trees and dead lawns. It’s important to visualize what a home would look like during their better months when they have leaves, and the yard is in shape.

Oblivious to closing date delays

Winter home closings are important because there are usually always dates to be paid attention to. There are a lot of concessions buyers ask for that cannot be completed due to too much snow, or too low of temperature. This can pose quite the problem when the closing date is fast approaching. Pay attention to dates, and keep a realistic idea of when repairs can be completed against when the closing date is.  

Making lowball offers

Don’t think you can get whatever house you put an offer on just because the season is winter. Yes, real estate is slow in winter and buyers aren’t offering like they are in summer, but this often means inventory is lower too. So because inventory is lower, so are buyers, and the competition out there isn’t much...

Why Are Moving Costs so High

Nobody likes moving, and it can be even more of a hassle when you end up paying more than you originally thought. It’s important to know what you’re getting into when you move. You will need to set yourself a budget, and find an estimate that works best with your price range.

Moving companies give estimates based on the distance traveled and the weight of your possessions. There are also several other factors that can change the price, so it’s wise to know what you’re up against.

Mandatory moving services

What affects your final moving cost the most is the amount of helping hands needed.

Some moving companies offer the entire moving package: packing your belongings, putting them on the truck, transporting everything to your new home, and unloading/unpacking everything. These usually can be quite expensive.

You can save some money by packing your own stuff and getting everything ready to load on the truck.

It will also cost you if you have specific moving requirements like double trips, or crating, etc.

Sometimes there are several ways in which companies may charge extra, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some of the most common ways companies charge extra are:

  • If the home is difficult for the trucks to reach. There may be a narrow road, or an old bridge that doesn’t allow for moving trucks to drive right up to the door. In this case they would use smaller vehicles bring your belongings to the house from the difficult entrance.
  • If the movers cannot drive right to the front door and have to carry everything a decent distance. If it’s longer than 75 feet, they will most likely add a carry-fee.
  • There’s a charge for going up and down stairs, or waiting at an elevator. These typically show up on the bill as a flight charge, or elevator fee.
  •  If some appliances cannot fit through...

5 Ways to Make 2017 Better Than 2016

2017 is fast approaching, and the right way to bring in the New Year is with a plan to make it better than the previous year. Here are five steps you can do to get yourself moving towards a better year.

Donate

As the holidays are getting near and the amount of stuff you seem to accumulate each year piles up, it begins to shrink your living space. It’s time to get rid of the old stuff you don’t use anymore. The best thing you can do is donate it. For the nicer items, you may try putting them on EBay or Craigslist.

Once they’re gone, you will be glad you now have room for all the new stuff you’ve accumulated throughout the holidays.

Set a date and crew to take down decorations

It took hours to put all the decorations up, and it will take hours to take them down. To make this task go smoothly, pick a date and time to get started, and make sure you have a capable crew (family) to help you.

Make sure the crew knows this will likely be an all-day event, and to set a time for everyone to get started. Designate what each member should do; one could take down the ornaments and Christmas tree, one can take down the outside lights, someone could get all the space ready, etc.

When a daunting task becomes a team effort, it doesn’t become such a hassle, and can be completed in a timely manner.

Set gift budgets

One area we don’t pay much attention to throughout the year is how much we spend on gifts for others. Take a look at what you spent on others this year, and set a budget for yourself for next year. Be sure to consider birthdays, Hallmark Holidays, and the seasonal holidays.

Having this budget will allow you to be a better manager of your money, freeing up cash where it’s better served.

 ...

How to Feel at Home Wherever You Are

You can be at home anywhere you are. If you are renting, couch surfing, vacationing, there’s a way to make wherever you are staying, home.

Home is more than having a place to live, it’s a place where you feel safe and comfortable; and surprisingly; a large number of people don’t have that.   Some people rent, some are always on the road traveling, some move around from base to base in the military, some of us hit hard times and have to crash at a relatives or friends for a while, and some even have to move back in with our parents until we can get back up on our feet again.

Until you find enough cash to buy your own home, there is a way to feel at home. We just need to find our creative side and build our home within ourselves.

Downsize

Many people think their stuff defines who they are. The photos they’ve taken throughout their lives, the 20-year old art piece, and the football trophy from high school, etc. The motto I have found to be quite useful is “less is more” and it has never done me wrong.

It all comes down to what makes you happy. Keeping the things you care about close, and getting rid of the stuff you don’t need. You will find once you de-clutter your life, how much simpler it becomes.

Keep actual pictures

This is an underutilized way of keeping the sense of “you” no matter where you are. Keeping photos of those you love and care about near will always give you that sense of home.

Most of us have our Facebook’s and Instagrams (online versions) of all our photos, but having physical copies of these makes it feel like home. Sure, everything is easier online, but nothing compares to tangible photos.

Enjoy the smell

The smell of home is one-of-a-kind. You recognize...

Gov't Cracks Down On Deceptive Lending

When a few California reverse mortgage firms told their customers they could not lose their homes, they made a huge mistake. For beginners, they are dead wrong, and they knew it. They were acting as predators. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau got wind of it and fined several of these California based companies.

One company American Advisors Ground in Orange had to pay around $400,000, while the others paid only $65,000. After they paid their fines they changed their loan disclosures, they still wouldn’t admit to any wrong doing.

The game of reverse mortgages is designed for people who are retired, or getting close to retirement. It gives them money in exchange for equity in their homes, and are allowed to stay in their homes until they die or decide to sell.

The government claimed these groups falsely advertised to its customers they would keep their homes no matter what.

It’s completely possible for borrowers to default on their reverse mortgage and lose their home. Sometimes they have to fail elsewhere in payments too like property taxes, PMI, and even maintaining the upkeep of their home. What happens is buyers take that stack of cash and spend it all and don’t have any left to pay their taxes.

As the growing number of defaulted mortgages grows, the government began requiring more underwriting of borrowers to ensure they can pay their monthly obligations, and to tighten the policies surrounding foreclosures prompted by delinquencies involving the Federal Housing Administration and their insured mortgages.

The companies also implied that these mortgages were federally backed, which is also completely untrue. However, some mortgages are federally backed, but are not a government benefit.

The companies have since revamped their marketing campaigns and made legal compliance a vital part.

...

What Is A HOA? How Do They Help?

After months and months of searching you finally find a house that is right on your price point, but it comes with a month fee called the HOA. So what exactly is the HOA fee and what does all that extra cash exactly pay for?

For starters, HOA stands for Homeowners Association. This encompasses all homes like condos, townhomes, or freestanding homes in a planned community. The monthly fee covers the communal areas of the neighborhood.

The reasoning is that everyone living in the neighborhood has equal access to the common areas and is equally responsible for keeping them well maintained. The usual areas everyone gets to use are pools, parking garages, clubhouses, general landscaping, workout rooms, sidewalks, gates, roofs, and building exteriors. The insurance for covering these areas is also part of the monthly payment.   

Of course no one likes paying extra on top of a mortgage payment, but it can actually help save on other maintenance costs. So before you complain too much, think about what it could actually do for you.

How much are HOA fees

For a typical single-family home, HOA fees can cost anywhere from $200-$300 a month, but can vary depending on the size of your unit.

For example, I have a 1,600 square ft. condo in Louisville, Kentucky with a pool, weight room, landscapers, snow removal, and fences, and it is $166 per month. Utilities are not included. One could imagine what a fancy Hollywood community would cost if it offered all services and amenities, probably somewhere in the thousands.

What is an HOA?

Monthly HOA fees are typically split in two parts. The first part goes towards the communities monthly expenses. The second part goes into a reserve fund, or a rainy day fund. These funds stack up and go towards the bigger repairs like new roofs, plumbing issues, exterior painting etc. These...

Open House Questions

Open houses a like seeing the shell of a house, and you never really know what you like until you investigate further. Sure, the beautiful staging, the lovely smell could draw you in, but remember it’s all set up to catch your eye. One needs to see a house based on what it truly is, and the best way to do that is ask pointed questions about each room. This will leave you with a good idea of whether you should submit an offer or not.

The kitchen

It isn’t difficult to tell if the kitchen was recently renovated. Just one look around and you can tell what decade the kitchen has last seen any attention, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask anyway. Go ahead and ask how old all the appliances are and if they are still functioning.  

The living room

The most important thing about the living room is the floor. Everything else in this room will be your furniture and decorations. If it is carpet ask what is underneath. What you’re looking for here is subfloor issues, and nobody wants to deal with that pain. If it is hardwood, you’re probably golden.

Bedrooms

No master bedroom is alike, so make sure the furniture you have will fit.  The secondary bedrooms are also a furniture concern, so take that into consideration as well. Ask if they wouldn’t mind if you measured the bedrooms and this should alleviate those concerns.

Bathrooms

Take more than a quick look around the bathrooms, as these rooms have potential to create a ton of problems. Ask away about knocking pipes, leaks, dripping sinks, low water pressure, not enough hot water etc. As a buyer don’t shy away from trying out the faucets.

The roof

The roof...

How to Break Up With An Agent

Everyone knows buying or selling a home is a long process, and it’s quite normal to work with several real estate agents along the way. In any best case scenario, the perfect agent shows up right when you need them to, and the transaction happens smoothly and timely.

As life usually has its way, things don’t always go as planned. It is possible that you don’t get along with your real estate agent and the relationship is painful. It could be from a single factor, or several. Maybe they are working at a different pace than you’d like, or you can’t agree on specific prices or terms.

So what is to be done? IS it alright to separate from the agent? And if so, how do you do it peacefully? It all matters on if you are buying or selling.

Buyers

Agents make their money at the time of closing by the sellers. They typically split their commission from the buyers’ and sellers agents. Normally as a buyer, you aren’t going to enter into a financial agreement with the agent. Usually, you just shake the agent’s hand pledging you will allow them to be your agent; and your word is good enough.   

An agent works diligently with other agents, studying the market, writing contracts, showing properties, going over paperwork to make sure everything is in line, etc. Yes they make their money at the time of the closing, but all the time they spend up to that point is when they earn it. So if an agent spends all that time working only to be told another agent found the client their dream home, then it would have been a giant waste of time.

So before you give an agent your word they will represent you, make sure they are the hard-working agent you deserve. Ask for references, online reviews, and see what other info you can find about them.

Open houses are great opportunities to meet agents and interview them. Just like any relationship, you won’t...