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Monday, November 23, 2015

Selling Your Home During the Winter

The winter can be one of the best times to sell your home. Below are a number of reasons selling during this season makes sense.

1. Buyers are looking because they need to move
Those in the market for a home during the winter generally need to move, which gives sellers an edge in negotiating.

2. Less inventory means less competition
Fewer homes on the market means yours has a better chance of attracting a buyer. 

3. Sellers have more time to evaluate offers 
Unlike the frenzied spring selling season when sellers have to review offers hastily, they are afforded a more relaxed timeframe during winter to evaluate offers and possibly negotiate more favorable terms.

4. Price more ambitiously
Though pricing your home at that sweet spot is always crucial, since competition is slim during the winter, coming in at a more ambition list price tends to work better during the off-season.

5. Holiday curb appeal
Curb appeal is always important and during the winter, creating an inviting, holiday feel can attract buyers. Be sure the exterior of your home is tidy and clean, wash windows and decorate your front porch with festive greenery and seasonal flowers. Keep lights on, window shades open and the inside temperature cozy.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

        408.687.2026 | |

Monday, November 9, 2015

3 Ingenious Moving Tips

When it comes time to move from the old place to the new one, everyone could use a few handy moving tips.

Sometimes, there are things about moving that we don’t consider until it’s too late: duct tape, bubble wrap, etc.

Moving can be a headache, and no one likes it—but with a few good friends and a few handy tricks, it makes the task mush simpler.

1. Snacks as Moving Hacks

Not only are snacks like Pringles and popcorn tasty, they can also come in seriously handy when it comes time to move.

Once you’ve polished off the chips, those Pringles cans are indispensable for packing up pens, pencils and the conglomeration of stuff in your “junk drawer.” These handy cans can hold a number of loose items that would otherwise end up rolling all over of the floor of your moving truck.

And when you run out of packing peanuts or bubble wrap, good ol’ fashioned popcorn—which is also dirt cheap—is a terrific substitute. Pop a few kernels and use it to fill up the empty space in your boxes of fragile items.

2. Stretch It!

When you’re carrying stuff down to your truck, going in and out of the house, few things are as annoying as having the door slam on you over and over—potentially even locking you out of the house!

Your best bet to fix that problem? A simple rubber band. Hook one end over the inside knob, turn the knob so it’s in the “open” position, and then you twist the band in an “X” over the latch and hook the other end to the outside knob.

Rubber bands also come in super-handy for keeping small boxes closed or binding clothes hangers together by their hooks.

3. Plate It Up

When you’re packing up your kitchen, you have to be extra careful with plates and glasses, so they don’t get broken en route to your new home. Sure, you could buy those foam squares that are meant to separate your plates and keep them safe, but that can be expensive.

Instead, buy a party pack of foam plates at your local grocery store. They cost just pennies, and they’ll protect your dishes better than foam squares or newspaper.

And when you get to your new place, you also will have something to eat off of while you’re unpacking.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

                       408.687.2026 | |

Monday, October 26, 2015

How to Buy & Sell a Home at the Same Time

Ah, to be a first-time home buyer again: How easy it was to buy a home when you weren’t carrying another mortgage on your back!

If you’re looking to graduate from first-timer to repeat buyer, you know things are about to get much trickier. Unless you’re a bona fide house collector, you’ll have to sell your home in order to buy anew—adding a whole separate layer of anxiety to what you already know is a stressful home-buying process.

In an ideal world, you’d buy a new home, move, and then, and when all the dust settles, deal with the turmoil of selling. But for most people, that’s totally unrealistic. Not only does it cost significantly more, since you’ll be paying two mortgages, but sellers might be quick to judge if you’re holding on to your current home.

If selling and buying simultaneously is the only way to go, here’s what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.

Know the market first

Before you start seriously searching for a new home—or put your current home on the market—make sure you have a solid understanding of the housing market in your area (and the area where you’re planning to buy). Is the market weighted toward buyers or sellers?

Only then will you be able to fully strategize. As is so often the case, the best plan of action may differ depending on exactly who has the power.

That doesn’t mean to find one house you like and call it a day: Find multiple suitable options. That way, you’re less likely to find yourself in trouble if your purchase falls through—your newly sold home won’t leave you stranded.

Similarly, make sure to hire an appraiser and price your old home fairly. Now is decidedly not the time for delusions of grandeur: Two extra months on the market because you couldn’t humble yourself to lower the price means two months you’ll be paying double mortgages. Two very long months…

Plan your schedule carefully…

Should you buy first, then sell—or vice versa? Both have their risks and rewards. Selling first makes getting a mortgage easier, but it also means you’ll need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first means moving will be easier, but it also skews your debt-to-income ratio, making it harder to qualify for a new mortgage—not to mention the difficulty of juggling two monthly house payments.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re prepared to accept the consequences: having to store your stuff and rent temporarily, or undergoing the financial burdens of dual mortgages.

… but don’t rely on timing

When buying and selling a home simultaneously, there are numerous external circumstances that play a part. 

Remember: You’re not the only party in this equation. For every seller there’s a buyer, for every buyer a seller. While things might appear to be working smoothly when viewing your master plan from above, that doesn’t take into account the variabilities of other people. Closings are rife with delays. Your buyers might have difficulty securing their mortgage; your home inspector may bring up issues that need to be fixed before you can move in.

So even if you’ve planned to sell your home first and are prepared to rent while buying, know that even the best-laid plans go awry—and you might end up juggling both mortgages. Preparing yourself for this (however remote) possibility ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.

Know your financial solutions

For those who choose to sell first, the process is relatively straightforward other than the additional cost of a rental between homes. However, there is the option of a rent-back agreement, where you negotiate with the lenders and buyers to be able to remain in the property for a maximum of 60 to 90 days—often in exchange for a lower selling price or rent paid to the buyers. This can relieve some of the pressure of finding a new home, giving you additional time to house hunt.

But if you’re buying first, talk to your Realtor about ways to decrease your financial burden and risk. Here are the two most popular options for buyers:

Contract contingency: Buyers can request that their new home purchase be dependent on the successful sale of their old home. If you’re looking in a competitive market, this may not be a good option; however, if the seller of your intended home has had difficulty attracting interest, this may be a good deal for all parties involved—assuming you can convince them that your home will sell quickly.

Bridge loans: Bridge financing allows you to own two homes simultaneously if you don’t have deep pockets for a second down payment. This option is especially attractive if you’d planned to sell your home first and use the proceeds to buy the second. It functions as a short-term loan, intended to be repaid upon the sale of your original house.

Don’t let fear rush you

If your home has sold but you haven’t found a new place to live, don’t let anxiety push you toward a bad decision. DiMauro usually recommends that his clients pre-emptively plan on a short-term rental “so they don’t feel stressed or pushed into something that they would not normally be interested in,” he says. “They shouldn’t make a purchase because they felt like they were pressured from the time constraints.”

Found the perfect home right on schedule? That’s great. But don’t feel like you have to compromise on things that are important to you just because you need to find a home. Conversely, don’t accept a bid that you feel is too low just because your finances are strained by two mortgages. If you have a temporary apartment set up, you’re less likely to compromise.

Certainly, selling and buying a house simultaneously will be stressful—but carefully considering and planning for the risks and hurdles can mitigate the stress.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

   408.687.2026 | |

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's a Great Time to Buy a Home

The time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year is a perfect time to purchase a home.


1. There is less competition during this holiday period. Fewer potential buyers are active during this time, which provides you with a fantastic opportunity.

2. There are fewer properties for sale because not many sellers want to open their homes during the holiday season. But those who have decided to sell are highly motivated!

3. Sellers tend to be concerned when there are less frequent property showings due to fewer buyers. As a result, they will be more willing to negotiate.

If you are considering buying a home, this holiday season is an excellent time to get a fantastic home at a great price without going up against a lot of competition.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

Monday, September 28, 2015

8 Things To Do When You Move Into Your New Home

When you move into a new house, you’re excited about decorating and getting situated but there are a few important items you should address right away.

1. Change the locks

Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them rekeyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers but there are numerous people who've had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.

2. Change the alarm batteries

Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seem like a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move, but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.

3. Review your home inspector’s report

Inspection reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing that wasn't addressed by the sellers, make sure to handle it before moving in.

4. Find the circuit breaker and water shut off

If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it should be top on your list.  During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. Its a wise idea to also find the water shut-off, too.

Then, get familiar: If the panel is not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.

5. Deal with any water problems
Deal with water-related issues immediately called out in the inspection report. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored.  A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.

Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.

6. Caulk everything

This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Caulking issues occur in just about every home and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.

7. Plan your emergency exits

Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need some adjustments—say, removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.

8. Clean your gutters

Don’t let the dullness of this 'out of sight' task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so ASAP.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Wyss Report: 7 Ways to Keep Your Property Safe After Moving Out

If you're moving out while your home is still on the market, there are things you should do to keep your property safe.

An unoccupied property is at risk for a break-in, and removing all your belongings doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Graffiti, damaged appliances, stolen copper wiring and broken windows can all add up to thousands of dollars in repairs.

Your agent will want to take extra precautions once your property is vacant, and to keep your investment as safe as possible, you’ll have to convince passerby the property is still occupied.

Here’s how to pull it off.

1. Ask for Backup

When you’re moving out, tell your immediate neighbors, the head of your neighborhood watch and your local police department that your property will be vacant.

With more eyes on the house, you’ll have a better chance of getting quick assistance if someone does break in.

2. Maintain the Lawn

An unkempt yard is a surefire sign a home is vacant. In the warmer months, make sure the lawn is mowed regularly, the flowerbeds are free of weeds, and there is no loose trash around the curb or driveway.

In the cooler months, clean the rain gutters, rake leaves off the lawn and clear the driveway and walkway if it snows.

3. Don’t Let Paper Pile Up

As soon as you’re finished moving out, forward your mail and newspaper subscriptions to your new address.

Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to stop by your home regularly to check for phone books, flyers and any mail that might have been accidentally delivered.

4. Make Repairs

A few times a month, check the outside of your property for any needed repairs. If you find any obvious problems, make repairs as soon as possible.

A cracked window, broken porch railing or loose shutter are small problems—but problems a live-in owner would fix.

5. Use Your Driveway

If you have a driveway attached to your home, ask a neighbor to park a car there. Many families with more than one car will be happy for the extra space, and a car parked in the driveway is a great deterrent.

6. Leave the Curtains Behind

If at all possible, leave the curtains or blinds on the windows in the home when you’re moving out.

Keep the curtains drawn and the blinds closed, even at the back of the house, in case a potential vandal hops your fence to see what’s inside.

7. Keep the Lights On

Purchase lighting timers, connect to inexpensive lamps and place the devices strategically throughout the house. Set the timers to go on and off in different rooms at the appropriate times of day or night.

Some would-be thieves or vandals will watch a property for days before breaking in. If they see lights in different rooms, they’ll assume the property still is occupied.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.

                    408.687.2026 | |

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Wyss Report: 10 Home Improvement Projects You Can Do in a Day

Many home improvement projects are simple enough for the uninitiated DIYer and can be done in a day or less without breaking your budget.

1. Switch the hardware

Sometimes it’s easiest to begin with the front of the house rather than what’s inside, Kelly says, especially if you’re on a tight budget. To that end, changing the front doorknob and lock is a quick update that only takes a few minutes and can complement the style of the house. Add a kick plate for a touch of glam or go gold for a traditional feel.

2. Brighten the lights

Another quick, simple way to brighten your home is by changing the lights in the front yard. Feel free to purchase new ones, or better yet, clean the ones you already have. Your home will look far less spooky at night, and you’ll actually see where you’re walking.

3. Paint the door

If scrubbing bug-infested front yard lights isn’t your thing, put a new coat of paint on your front door to freshen it up. Go for something that complements the house’s exterior or be bold and opt for a pop of color, Kelly says, which will set the right tone.

4. Upgrade your house numbers

House numbers and address plaques are another quick update that can make a big difference. With the proper placement, they can make your house easier to find—not a bad thing when trying to sell—and the right style of numbers can help play up its architecture.

5. Plant a vertical garden

Beautify a blank wall by planting a vertical garden. “It can add architecture to the side or back of a home and be more structural” if you opt for, say, hanging planters, stacked crates, or a lattice, Kelly says. And the plants can be anything, from herbs used for cooking to bright gerbera daisies and vines.

6. Update kitchen or bath fixtures

Nothing modernizes a bathroom or kitchen quite like changing the fixtures. If you’re starting from scratch, you may want to coordinate with the rest of the room, although Kelly says she’s been seeing a lot of mixed metal and mixed wood. “People are more forgiving [of a lack of cohesion], and it seems more livable in our eyes,” she says.

7. Paint a piece of furniture

A fresh coat of paint can make old furniture feel new, Kelly says. Anything from bookcases to shelves to nightstands is an easy project, and if you mess up, so what? Just paint it again. “It’s not such a commitment, which is nice,” she says.

8. Install a fan

Installing a fan doesn’t take more than a few hours and is an inexpensive way to add interest to a room. Just remember to keep it “sleek and simple,” Kelly says, as low-profile fans are the best. “Don’t get too cute with it since it can quickly become dated.”

9. Change the cabinet hardware

“Changing the actual cabinet hardware can make a huge difference,” says Kelly, who recommends going with nickel for a more modern look. “It can dress up the cabinet.” Clear knobs are another option for a timeless and elegant feel, plus, they match nearly everything.

10. Add light dimmers

These days, homeowners are adding light-control dimmers and switches for the energy efficiency, not just the drama, Kelly says. “[Dimmers] are very affordable and create mood and ambiance,” plus you can use them with the lights that you already have. For a dramatic look, they work great in the dining room and bedroom.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.