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Top 5 Features of a Cozy Home

There’s something wonderful about winter, even if you live in a warm climate. Like bears in hibernation, we tend to slow down, stay home and relax more often in cooler weather.

If you’re shopping for a home or recently purchased a home, these are the best features your new home can offer to help you enjoy cooler weather.

Fireplaces:Whether you have a gas, electric or wood-burning fireplace, or a firepit in the backyard, watching the flames is a great way to relax, listen to music, or cuddle under your favorite blanket with a purring cat or fluffy dog by your side.

Built-ins: Bookshelves, china hutches, and window seats may seem like yesteryear, but they also add utility and character to your home. They can be updated with newer finishes but the quality of built-in woods and craftsmanship can rarely be matched today.

Sitting areas:A reading nook or a small conversation area can be intimate, comfy and charming. Make it a no-electronics zone for books, sketching or needle arts.

Hardwoods and rugs: Hardwood floors are warm, elegant and highly in demand. To soften the sound and protect the beauty of floors in highly trafficked areas, choose hand-knotted wool or silk rugs. They stand the test of time and you can move them around for a change.  

Lighting: Adjustable lighting, from three-way bulbs to lamps with arms to dimmer switches, can make relaxing more personal and comfortable. Think of all lighting as task-oriented to choose the right fixture and bulb for your needs.

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How to Handle the Holidays While Your Home is Listed For Sale

The holidays are here and you’re in the middle of trying to sell your home. Your family is still expecting a big Thanksgiving and Christmas, so how are you going to sell your home while you do all the extra shopping, cooking, decorating and entertaining?

Remember: No one should expect you to take on so much, so it’s OK to handle what you can and delegate or eliminate what you don’t want to do.

Here’s how you can use the holidays to your advantage:

Decorate just a dot. Put out a few family favorites to show how lovely your home can be for the holidays but box up the remaining decorations for the movers. If you get an offer on your home, you’ll only have a few festive things to take down and pack up.

Delegate the dinner.Someone else can host the big family dinner while you bring a dish instead. You’ll have more time for decluttering and packing and keeping your home tidy for showings.

Dash to a destination. This is the year to take the kids to see their grandparents, go on a ski vacation, or head to the beach for the holidays. Have fun and leave the home selling to your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network sales professional.

As you strive to keep everyone happy during the holiday season, take time for yourself, too. Your only job should be to make showings easy for professionals to sell your home. It’s a bonus if you’ve made the holidays easier for your family, too.

Audio File Below, Click for Tyler to Read You This Article

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Outdoor Lighting for Safety & Beauty

 

Landscape lighting is one of the best ways to make your home safer and more appealing. You can highlight your home’s best features and light the way to your entry for guests, all while eliminating dark hiding spots for unwelcome visitors.

  • Step back from your home so you can see the whole house and yard in daylight and at night.
  • Do you have elegant brickwork, bay windows or a verandah to showcase?
  • Are there fountains, pools or other features you’d like to show at night?
  • Is your home beautifully landscaped? Are there trees or plantings you’d like to shower with attention?
  • How well-lit are your doors, pathways, steps and parking from the street?

One benefit of pathway lighting is that it can radiate several feet. You can install solar-powered walkway lamps that are attractive and affordable.

Spot lights can be put low on the ground or high on a wall, or they can hang from the eaves of your home to focus on specific features. Each light provides unique shadows and can bring architectural and landscaping features center stage.

On the ground, install flood lights that shoot light up against your home, bushes or trees. Motion detectors can flood the area with light which discourages pests.

Outdoor lighting can make your home more attractive at night, but it can also make your home more attractive to future homebuyers, as a beauty and safety feature. And that’s always a good investment.

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Life in an HOA or Condo Association

Audio File – Click to Listen to Tyler Read You the Article

If you’re buying a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), there are some things you need to know. The community provides you with shared amenities and services like front yard maintenance and security patrols. The HOA board collects a monthly or annual fee to maintain those amenities, protect the integrity and safety of the community and to enhance property values for the homeowners.

The main benefit of life with an HOA is that you can enjoy the amenities you want without having to pay for them by yourself. But, shared benefits means that your dues are used for two things –property maintenance and improvements and for building reserves. This can include future expenses like swimming pool resurfacing or unexpected expenses like fallen tree removal. It also means that the HOA may have some rules you may not like, such as no yard signs or flags on holidays.

That’s why you need to see the governing documents of the HOA, including the CC&Rs, – covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are the rules of esthetics, conduct, maintenance, and security the homeowners voted to have, such as how many pets you can own or whether you can park your car on the street.

Keep in mind that HOA boards are composed of volunteer homeowners like yourself and that they’re not property managers. HOAs typically hire third-party property managers so board members can enjoy the community, too.

You can then make the decision whether this particular community is right for you.

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How to Winterize Your Home

 

Winterizing your home is one of the best ways to get comfortable and save energy costs. It’s not too late to get a few projects done before the holidays, so here’s a short weekend list of to-dos to help you.

Check the furnace. Typically, a heating system has a heat/cooling source, distribution system, and thermostat, so there is plenty of room for error. Make sure that your system is properly inspected and cleaned and has fresh filters according to maintenance directions. Call a master certified plumber to look for potential dangers such as carbon monoxide leaks.

Check detectors. Since you’ll be indoors more, it makes sense to also check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to EPA.gov, smoke detectors with a UL rating have a useful life of 10 years so don’t just push the button to see if it’s working. Stick a real flame source, such as a candle or a match, to see if the detector can actually pick up on the smoke being emitted.

Check insulation. Energy leaks put a hole in your wallet, so do your best to identify and seal all leaks in your ceiling/attic and cracks in or around your windows and doors. A quick way to check if you have enough insulation is to go into your attic and look at your rafters-if you can see ceiling joists you can add some more insulation. Though this will be an expensive process, your heating costs will drop right away.

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September Housing Market Update!

September 2018 Housing Market Update: Median sales prices continue to rise and set September records; closed sales slide by 10% year-over-year in both D.C. and Baltimore, pending sales also slip; Inventories fall slightly

The following analysis of the Washington, D.C. Metro and Baltimore Metro Area housing markets has been prepared by Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. of MarketStats by ShowingTime and is based on September 2018 Bright MLS housing data.

DC Metro Area – Overview

  • The Washington D.C. Metro median sales price rose 3.7% or $15,000 to $420,000 compared to last year. Prices are, by far, at the highest September level of the decade.
  • Sales volume across the DC Metro area was more than $1.8 billion, down 7.0% from last year.
  • The 3,636 closed sales in September were down a significant 10.0% compared to last year and were at the lowest September level since 2014.
  • New pending sales were also down notably, with 4,444 new pending sales at the end of September, down 7.6% compared to last year and also at the lowest September level since 2014.
  • New listings of 6,742 were down 3.3% compared to last year.
  • Active listings of 10,539 were also down 3.3% compared to last year.
  • The average percent of original list price received at sale in September was 97.7%, up just slightly from last year’s 97.6%.
  • The median days-on-market this month was 17 days, down three days from last year.
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Remodeling Trend to Rise

According to the Federal Reserve, the primary residence accounts for about one-quarter of all assets held by households, ahead of other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts.

It’s important to protect the value of your home by keeping it repaired and updated. Not only does an update make a home more attractive, it should improve functionality, make it more comfortable, increase the enjoyment, and increase the value, upping the chances of a higher resale price.

If you’re planning on making home improvements, you’re in good company. Home improvement spending is expected to increase by seven percent over the next year, according to research by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Homeowners will spend about $350 billion on updates by mid-year 2019, confident that they’re making a good investment, thanks to rising home values and a growing economy.

How are they spending their money? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said in May 2018 that bathrooms have overtaken kitchens as the number one remodeling choice.

NAHB surveys of homeowners who recently remodeled their homes found that over four out of five remodeled baths (81%) while 78% remodeled kitchens. Nearly half of respondents replaced doors, remodeled whole homes or added a room to existing homes. Most homeowners start with smaller projects such as new front doors, green-friendly appliances, programmable thermostats, low-emissivity windows and new HVACs.

As home remodeling continues to be popular, you will likely to see increased benefits from your home improvements.

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Too Many Clothes, No Down Payment

Crazy fashion trends do more than strain closet space. They can sometimes send the message that trendiness is more important than building wealth. Here’s to save the money you spend on new clothes for something more rewarding – a down payment on your own home.

Reduce your wardrobe. Consign, donate or give away clothes you haven’t worn in a year or two. Keep anything that goes with at least three other items, like a jacket that works with a dress, skirt and blouse, or jeans.

Take better care. Fast fashion doesn’t last, so when you wash clothes, turn pants, skirts and blouses inside out first. Don’t use wire hangers. Fold knits instead of hanging them. Your clothes will look better and last longer.

Buy less. If you buy something for $100, look at how long the season is to wear it (four months) and how many times you’ll actually wear it (17). Take the cost ($100) and divide by the number of wearings. That’s a tax of $5.88 every time you wear it.

Bank the money. If you spend $200 a month on clothes, try a year without buying anything new and let that $200 multiply in a savings account, 401K, or CD. That’s $2,400 that could grow with compound interest and investment growth. In three years, you could have over $10,000 or more and that’s a good start toward owning a home.

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Home Insurance and Replacement Costs

How do you know if you have your home insured for the right amount? Your lender may require insurance to cover the loan amount, but what you owe and actual replacement costs can be vastly different.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), replacement costs are the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with similar materials and quality, without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. Standard plans require policy limits of at least 80% of replacement cost.

Replacement costs should include loss of your possessions.  Create a room-by-room inventory of your possessions, including photographs and/or video, cost of goods, and how long you’ve had them. Give documentation to your insurer and keep copies in a safe place or on the cloud.

The NAIC advises that you compare cost-to-repair and cost-to-replace prices for your area with your insurer. There are different packages of home insurance that protect against specified damage-causing events, such as fire, windstorm, and theft. They also contain coverage for property damage, living expenses during repairs, personal liability and medical payments.

Review your policy annually. If you’ve made improvements to the home, or purchased more goods, you should inform the insurer. You may also get a premium discount for long-time loyalty, combining car and home insurance, raising your deductible, and other initiatives.

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Are You Really Ready to Sell?

If you find yourself saying any of the following to me as your agent, you may be hurting your chances of selling your home quickly and for the most money possible.

“I’m not making any repairs.” According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report from the National Association of REALTORS®, 47 percent of buyers under the age of 37 purchased new homes to avoid renovations and problems. If many buyers don’t have the will, skill or time to make repairs, you’re eliminating a number of buyers who would otherwise love your home.

“My home has to be worth more than that.” You may believe your home should be worth more than you paid for it and provide you with enough equity to move. Your listing agent will supply you with tools to understand current market value. The comparable market analysis shows what homes have recently sold for and what other sellers are asking for similar homes as yours, as well as price and sales trends.

“Let’s price it higher and see what happens.” Pricing above comparable homes is a real risk. You’ll outprice buyers who would want your home. Buyers who can afford your home will quickly find that your home doesn’t compare to others.

In any of these cases, you’ll be looking at a price adjustment, and have lost valuable marketing time. Realistically, your home is only worth what the most qualified buyer is willing to pay for your home.