NMLS# 3151

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How To Keep Your Home Show Ready

How To Keep Your Home Show Ready

Looking to list your home? Or perhaps it is listed now but not getting a lot of interest? Read below for some easy tips to help your home stay show ready.

General Tips:
  • Before it can sparkle, it has to be sparse. Remove unnecessary clutter as it can be a distraction and deterrent for potential buyers.
  • Clean and stage the home. Potential buyers want to envision themselves in the home. They can’t easily do that if all your stuff is in the way or if the home is dirty.
  • Remove a lot of unnecessary clutter and decor. It is advisable to put away family photos if you have a lot of personal images used in your home.
  • Easily touch up any dings in the wall with touch up paint.
  • Manage your trash. People don’t want to see spills or dried food on the table, dirty dishcloths on the counter, or dirty clothes on the floor. Be sure to put garbage cans or bags away and out of sight. If you devalue your home, potential buyers may put in lower offers, resulting in you losing money on the sale.
  • Clean windows and remove obvious smudges from window panes.
  • Open drapes and shades to let in natural light and brighten the home.
  • Plug in air fresheners are highly recommended throughout the home.

5-Minute Cleaning Routine:
If you get a last-minute request for a showing, you will need to prioritize to get the home ready - especially if you have little ones at home. If you do have young kids at home, allow them to watch a movie or keep them otherwise occupied while you whip the home into a show-friendly state. Allow yourself 5 minutes per room and focus on the main items that potential buyers will see.
  • Put away dirty dishes
  • Pick up dirty clothes
  • Clear bathroom and kitchen counters
  • Wipe up spills on the table or counters
  • Sweep up obvious dirt from the floor or wipe up dirty floor smudges
  • Put away kid’s toys
  • Make the beds as this is one of the larger furniture items in bedrooms and is one of the first things buyers notice in a bedroom

Most of your efforts should focus on the kitchen. The kitchen should always be clean. Most potential buyers understand that people live in the home, so a minor amount of dirt or clutter can be overlooked. But, for a faster sale of your home, the cleaner it can be and the less clutter strewn about is best when showing your home. Buyers need to see themselves living in the home. Clean kitchen counters by removing small appliances and unnecessary decorative items. Wipe up spills or messes from tables, counters, and floors. Plug in a room freshener to keep any common kitchen smells at bay.

The bathrooms should also always be clean. Clear bathroom counters by putting away toiletries and picking up after yourself each day. Remove dirty towels and hang clean towels before a showing. Sweep up hair that may be on the floor and wipe counters. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but buyers don’t want to see your personal stuff or dirty towels in a bathroom.

Make your bed every day. If you are not already in the practice of doing this, it is advisable to start doing this while you are showing your home. The bed is the largest piece of furniture in most bedrooms and is the first thing most potential buyers see when they enter a bedroom. An untidy bed can make the whole room look messy and turn buyers away. Be sure to pick up dirty laundry and keep the room clear of clutter. Buyers want to know the current home owner cares for and maintains the home before the buyer strongly considers the investment.

Other Spaces:
Consider your other home spaces. Keep these spaces clean. This includes the home office, garage, basement, storage areas, attic storage, laundry room, closets, family room, dining room, and any other home spaces. Implement the same procedures for cleaning and maintaining these spaces as you do the rest of the home. Serious potential buyers will look in all spaces and places during a showing. You want to show the best of your home and having it ready to show puts your best foot forward to ensure less time on market and encourage offers.

Yard & Exterior:
If selling during the summer months, keep the yard clean and maintained. Consider adding some potted plants to the walkway or front entry to increase your home’s curb appeal.

Price It Right:
If you have a clean, de-cluttered home but you’re still not getting interested buyers, consult your Realtor. It may be the timing and the market, or you may have to reconsider your listing price strategy.

Small Steps Add Up:
By simply taking small steps throughout the day to pick up after yourself and clean throughout the course of your day, you can easily keep your home in show ready shape. If everyone in your family pitches in, it will be even easier to always have the home ready for potential buyers. Even if you and your family do not live this way normally, it is good to remember that you are trying to sell your home. You will need to keep your home clean for showings to ensure your home does not sit on the market longer than necessary.

Remember to talk with your Realtor and get any additional recommendations to help with getting your home show ready. Your Realtor is experienced and will help you throughout the full home selling process.

Just getting started? Contact us to speak with a Realtor today. 
801-478-4545 info@ranlife.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Being a homeowner comes with a lot of costs and responsibilities. There are some easy ways to cut costs by making your home more energy efficient. There are several suggestions below for easy and low-cost options, as well as some higher cost investments for long-term savings.

Energy Audit
To begin, we highly recommend completing an energy audit on your home. Many utility companies will conduct an energy audit at little or no cost to you. An energy audit helps you quickly identify what needs to be updated or replaced. You can go a step further and hire a professional contractor to analyze your home, then compare the results to your monthly utility bills. The contractor will provide you with a list of recommendations to improve your home’s energy efficiency and lower your costs. Your Realtor may have some contractor recommendations for this type of service.

Looking to make an immediate impact and lower your utility bills? The following recommendations are simple and can be implemented almost immediately.

Check Your Insulation
One of the first steps is to check your home’s insulation, starting with the attic. Adding new or additional insulation to your home (attic, ceiling, walls, crawl spaces, garage, etc.) will help more easily regulate the house temperature.

Close Vents
Be sure to close vents in unoccupied or less used rooms. This can save up to 20 percent on heating or cooling costs.

Caulking And Weather Stripping
Check your caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows. It is simple to replace caulking and weather stripping and can save you lots on your energy bill.

Use The Sun To Your Advantage
An easy and no-cost solution is to utilize the sun to your advantage. In the summer, close shades on the southern and eastern windows during the day to help keep the home cool. Keep the shades in those rooms closed in rooms that are not used. In the winter open shades in rooms facing south or east to help heat the home during the day.

Install A Programmable Thermostat
By installing a thermostat that you can program, you can control the home’s temperature during periods when no one is home. This can save as much as 10 percent a year on your energy costs.

Use Fluorescent Bulbs
Switch your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL bulbs). Although CFL bulbs seem to cost more initially, they last up to 12 times longer than incandescent bulbs, resulting in considerable savings over time.

Use Appliances Efficiently
Minimize your energy use by minimizing your appliance use. Simple changes can really add up to big savings. Being aware of how you are using your appliances can help save on your energy bill.
  • Set your refrigerator and freezer to the recommended energy-efficient settings (37 degrees for refrigerator, 3 degrees for freezer)
  • Run the dishwasher when it is full, not half full
  • Do full loads of laundry, not smaller loads
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room, and consider using fewer lights when in a room
  • Unplug appliances that are not often used or when you travel and are away from home
  • Unplug home computers and monitors when not in use
  • Unplug battery chargers when not in use
  • Set your thermostat to a lower temperature at night when you are sleeping and at times of the day when you are away from the home

Some of the following recommendations require a bit more of an investment, but are highly recommended for long-term savings.

Check Your Water Heater
Set the water heater temperature to 140 degrees. Newer water heaters may automatically set to 140 degrees. It is also recommended that you insulate the hot water lines to help keep the heated water hot. If your water heater is older, you may consider replacing the unit with an Energy Star-rated water heater - especially if you will be in the home for several years.

Check Your Furnace
There are several things you can do to help make your furnace more energy efficient.
  • Replace Your Filter: Homeowners often forget to check and replace their air filter. For homes with a pet, it is recommended to replace the filter every 60 days. A home without pets can go as long as 90 days before replacing the filter. If you own a second home or vacation home and do not have frequent guests or visits, it is recommended to replace the filter every 6 months.
  • Seal Your Ducts: Help the air flow to the intended destination through the duct work without losing the heated or cooled air along the way.
  • Install An Energy Efficient Furnace: If you will be in the home for many more years, you may consider replacing your old furnace with an Energy Star-rated furnace. The upfront cost will pay for itself over time.

Replace Old Appliances
Larger old appliances can suck a lot of energy. It is wise to replace old appliances with new, Energy Star efficient appliances. Look at it as an investment in money-saving appliances. Check with your local recycling centers to remove the old appliances as many have toxic chemicals that should not go to the landfill, such as the freon refrigerant in refrigerators. Also, check with your local utilities to see if they are offering any financial incentives for upgrading appliances to Energy Star-rated appliances. There may be an opportunity to earn back some of your investment through these incentive programs.

Replace Windows
Windows are a major source of heat loss. If you are going to be in a home for a number of years, it is advisable to upgrade your windows or replace them entirely to ensure great energy efficiency for your home. Below are some common window upgrade recommendations:
  • Tint your windows from the inside
  • Upgrade from aluminum frames to vinyl frames
  • Double-panes or triple-panes are more energy efficient than single-pane windows
  • Replace old windows with Energy Star-rated windows for the most energy savings

Install Solar Panels
Probably the largest upfront investment of any of the recommendations here, solar panels can drastically cut energy costs in your home. You will want to be in your home for several years to recoup the investment cost. Check with your local power utility company to see if they will allow you to sell power back to their grid, as some utility companies have such programs in place. In some areas, solar panels may increase the home value. Ask your Realtor if such an investment may raise your home value in your area.

Consider Your Landscaping
Strategically planting shade trees in your yard and around your home can reduce your energy bill by blocking the heat of the sun during summer or the chill of the wind during colder months. If your tree drops leaves during the fall or winter seasons, the warmth from the sun will help keep the home warm. Remember to call your utility companies before you dig to ensure there are no underground utility lines. And, if planting in your park strip, reminder that this may be owned by the city or county, and you may need to consult your local government office or city planning office to confirm which types of trees or plants are permitted in your area. Finally, a water wise tip to consider is xeriscaping your yard to avoid heavy water use throughout the spring/summer/fall.

Install A Rainwater Collection System
Collecting rainwater from the home runoff is a water wise tip to lower water usage and water costs. The collected rainwater can be used for irrigation needs, such as watering your lawn, garden, and plants. Be sure to check with your local city planning office to ensure you can legally capture rainwater, as some areas do not allow private rainwater collection systems.

Being energy efficient is easy. Once you know your home’s inefficiencies, you can decide which areas of the home need attention. Being aware of your own energy use and knowing the areas of your home that can be upgraded or replaced sets you up for major cost savings. Make the changes that you can and upgrade or replace the items that are needed to lower your energy use and decrease your utility bills.

Remember to check for tax incentives and take advantage of any special offers and incentives from your local government, city, utility companies, or local non-profits to reduce your overall out-of-pocket expense. That’s more money in your pocket!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Real Estate Myths Debunked


Real Estate Myths Debunked

There are many common myths that circulate the real estate market. Misconceptions are often a result of hearsay or groupthink, resulting in inaccurate assumptions that are taken as fact. Most of these myths are easily answered and explained. Below are some of the most common real estate myths and the truth behind these widely held beliefs or misunderstandings.

MYTH: The real estate market is predictable.

TRUTH: We’ve seen it too many times before. Things can change fast in the real estate market. Recessions, environmental-caused devastation, sudden changes in crime rates, increase in the number of homes that come on market, and other unknowns can have a huge impact on the stability of the real estate market. Still, most experienced Agents and Lenders can predict the immediate direction of the market, barring no major catastrophes occur. Still, it is always advisable to learn about the market and understand what is happening before and during your home sale or purchase process.

MYTH: You need lots of money to invest in real estate.

TRUTH: As a buyer, you will need enough for earnest money to lock in your real estate purchase contract, plus appropriate cash to pay for the buyer expenses. Common expenses such as earnest money, home inspections, and closing costs will require cash payment at the time of deadline per the purchase contract. There may be a few additional costs involved in the purchase process before home ownership is complete, so having reserve cash is recommended. Aside from these, a non-cash buyer will need to secure the remaining home purchase funds through a home loan and a qualified

MYTH: Get pre-approved after finding your perfect home.

TRUTH: Many home buyers don’t fully understand the need for getting pre-approved before engaging a real estate Agent (or at the very beginning of working with an Agent.) A buyer should be pre-approved before looking at homes for a number of reasons. For one, there is the possibility of great disappointment if the buyer finds that dream home and then learns he or she cannot qualify for enough money to purchase the home. For another, if the buyer puts in an offer on a multiple offer scenario, the seller will most certainly require the Lender’s pre-approval letter to ensure the buyer is serious and able to make the home purchase. If the buyer has not been pre-qualified, he or she may lose the opportunity for the home purchase entirely as sellers will only consider serious and qualified buyers, especially in a multiple offer scenario. Most experienced Agents will encourage or require their buyers be pre-approved by a licensed Lender before working with them or showing them homes. Read more about “The Loan Process and Getting Into a Home” here.

MYTH: Set your sale price higher than what you want to get for it.

Buyers likely won’t look at homes that are overpriced compared to what’s available on the market. Setting a higher price may deter buyers, resulting in being on the market longer. Agents are aware of pricing tactics and will also look at total time on the market when pulling home options for their buyers. If a home is listed at a high price, sits on the market for a while, then drops to a more realistic price, qualified buyers may become suspicious of why the home was priced so high or why it’s been on the market so long. Ultimately, this can have a negative impact for the seller in both time on market and list price. It is a best practice to always price your listing appropriately for the market and negotiate when an offer comes in.

MYTH: Sellers will earn back all their renovation costs in their home sale.

TRUTH: A seller can recoup some of the expenses of home renovations, but it is nearly impossible to recover 100% of the costs. Siding replacement tends to bring the highest return, along with updated kitchens and bathrooms. Keeping a house updated is ideal to yield a higher sale price. The primary instance when upgrades are not recommended is when the market is flat or trending down.

MYTH: Eco-friendly features yield a higher sale price.

TRUTH: Although a wonderful earth-friendly addition to a home, in many areas, if the home is priced higher than comparable homes without the “green” features, buyers may be more willing to forgo the eco-friendly home for a lower priced comparable. Talk with your Realtor about appropriate home pricing. Consider the cost of eco-friendly updates and how long you will stay in your home before you make the investment, or understand that the new eco-friendly features may not increase your home value as much as you want, nor will it necessarily guarantee you a higher sale price.

MYTH: You can save money if you don’t use a real estate Agent.

TRUTH: Some “For Sale By Owners” do have success in selling their home quickly and for a fair market value without major issues or costs to the seller. Those people tend to be skilled or trained in the real estate market. For the majority of sellers and buyers, however, it is highly recommended that you enlist a qualified, licensed real estate Agent to oversee this often litigious process. Learn more by reading this post, “Why Use A Real Estate Agent?”

MYTH: All real estate Agents are the same.

http://www.ranliferealestate.com/TRUTH: Aside from being licensed by the state, every Agent runs his or her business individually, and every agent has different skills, experience, personalities, thoughts, practices, and connections. Realtors must differentiate themselves from their competition and must find clients that want to work with them. In the real estate world, there is a ton of variety among Agents. It is always recommended to interview Realtors before deciding to work with one.  Read this post to learn more about “How To Find The Right Agent For You.”

MYTH: It is fast and easy to make money as a real estate Agent.

TRUTH: Licensed Realtors must complete a required amount of study hours and pass an arduous test before receiving their license. Once a Realtor is licensed, that Agent must spend months building up a database of buyers and sellers, along with quality referrals. Each client is unique and an Agent must understand each client’s needs and expectations. A lot of time is spent on each client and with each client. There’s no such thing as “fast cash” in this industry. To be successful in real estate requires time and energy.

MYTH: Realtors work a 9-to-5 job.

TRUTH: Real estate is really an entrepreneurial industry. Each Realtor must run his or her business individually. Some brokerages are better than others - providing resources, training, ongoing educational courses, and opportunities to shadow tenured Agents. Regardless of the brokerage or the market, to be successful in this industry, an Agent must work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. An Agent must be available when his or her clients are available. For many, that is after a typical 9-to-5 job and on weekends. Aside from face-to-face time with clients, Agents have a lot of behind-the-scenes work they must do for each client and each transaction. To be good in this industry, Agents must work hard, often resulting in long days and obscure hours. Real estate is more of a lifestyle choice than simply a job.

MYTH: Real estate Agents will say or do anything to make a sale.

TRUTH: Some people carry a negative perception of real estate Agents, similar to that of a car salesperson. However, Agents are required to abide by a strict code of ethics, rules, laws, and regulations. Breaking these set rules can result in major fines or even loss of one’s license. Agents take these rules very seriously. Also, due to the nature of the real estate industry, Realtors rely mostly on word-of-mouth referrals from current and previous clients, as well as repeat business. With this understanding, Realtors know understand that serving the needs of their clients and watching out for the client’s best interests is not only their required duty as outlined by the code of ethics, but also a necessary for their own direct and long-term success.

Have Some Additional Myths You Want Cleared Up?
Give us a call and we’ll help answer your real estate questions. We’re here to be of service and we’re happy to help clear up any real estate misperceptions or discuss your real estate goals.

We’re Here To Help!
RANLife Real Estate: 801-478-4545
RANLife Home Loans: 800-461-4152
Email us at info@ranlife.com