Friday, September 7, 2018

Hurricane and Storm Preparedness

Hurricane season is underway and it’s important to make sure your home and family are prepared for times of inclement weather.
Keep your family safe by having a storm kit including:
-        A list of contacts – family, public safety, hospitals, utilities and insurance
-        Bottled water – one gallon per person per day
-        A three day supply of non-perishable food
-        Flashlight
-        First aid kit
-        Batteries
-        Garbage bags
-        Moist towelettes
-        Manual can opener
-        Cell phone chargers
-        Cash
-        Matches and candles
Develop a plan by asking yourself the following questions:
-        Where should family go in case of an emergency?
-        What will you do if utilities are shut off?
-        What are the local evacuation routes?
Sample plans can be downloaded by visiting
Protect your home by taking the following steps:
-        If necessary protect windows with plywood boards.
-        Trim back any tree branches that may be too close to your home
-        Confirm your insurance policies
-        Understand how to manually shut off water and gas
It’s important to always heed the warnings of those in the public safety and weather departments. Prevention can go a long way to avoiding disaster.  It’s better to be over prepared then caught off guard when bad weather strikes.
How do you prepare for hurricane season?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Understanding Home Settling

Over the course of your home’s first year you may notice small cracks or gaps where seemingly perfect walls and floors were before. What causes this change and should you be concerned?
A lot changes in your home over the first year. The materials used to build your home will begin to dry out which can account for minor changes in appearance.
The weight of the home itself will cause it to settle onto the ground it sits on. This can cause small hairline cracks especially over doors and windows.  Nails may pop out of the walls a bit and door frames may shift.
All of this is normal part of the process of owning a home and not a cause of concern about the quality of the home.  However if you have questions be sure to talk with your builder and they can identify any potential issues.
There are a few things you as a homeowner can do to prevent some of the cosmetic changes in your home during the first year.  Try to keep your home at a consistent temperature.  Use fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Invest in a humidifier if you feel the humidity level in your home is leading to additional issues.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Talking to Your Builder

When buying a new home there are so many things to think about – what style do I want, how big is big enough, what’s my budget?
It’s important to think through all of the aspects of buying a home before you take the plunge.  Your builder is a great resource and can help guide you through the process.
Here are some questions to ask before you get started. Understanding your builder’s process will help you set your expectations for the construction of your new home.
About the Builder
-        How long have you been building new homes?
-        Do you have any references of past homebuyers we can talk to?
-        What is the average build time?
-        Does the sales process go through you or an outside real estate team?
About the Home
-        Can I bring my own floorplan or choose from one of yours?
-        Can changes be made to the floorplan?
-        What options or upgrades can be added?
-        Is there a warranty program?
-        Is landscaping included in the price of the home?
About the Neighborhood
-        Are there HOA fees and what do they cover?
-        Are there any restrictive covenants about what can be in the neighborhood?
-        What are the estimated taxes for this area?
What are some other questions that come to mind when talking with your builder about the new home building process?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Choosing a Moving Company

Once you’ve found your dream home and you are ready to make the move the last thing you want to worry about is trouble with your moving company. By doing some research upfront you can save yourself a lot of heartache.  Choose a reputable company and know your moving rights.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing a moving company.
-    Choose a company directly, not through a brokerage website or a “Find A Mover” website.
-    Check the background online by looking at the Better Business Bureau, and review websites like Yelp.
-    Have at least 3 or 4 companies that you want to talk with before making a decision. Don’t rely on an estimate over the phone. Have them come to your home and do a walk through so your estimate will be complete.
-    Ensure the company is licensed and has a physical address.
-    Receive all estimates and agreements in writing. Carefully review the details including the policies about pickup and delivery, stairs and if packing services are included.
-    Other things to check for are:
o    Will they be moving you or is a third party involved?
o    Are the trucks they use permanently marked?
o    Will you be sharing a truck with other customers?
o    Do they provide references?
-    Be sure not to sign any blank paperwork or documents you don’t understand.
-    If you feel there are any red flags that come up during the process it’s okay to move on and choose someone else. Your peace of mind and possessions are too important to leave in the hands of someone who seems untrustworthy.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Getting to Know You

One of the often overlooked benefits of buying a new home is the sense of community built in to a new neighborhood. Everyone moving in is new. There is no awkward “new kid” feelings as all homeowners are new to the neighborhood.  This newness creates a shared goal of building a community together.
So what are some ways you can help encourage this sense of community? Try hosting a neighborhood drop in at your new home.  If weather permits this can be an outdoor event to make it feel even less formal.  Host a BBQ or simply share some of your favorite desserts.
Simply spending time outdoors working on your yard or outdoor living space encourages conversation from neighbors who are also working on making their new home their own.
Take advantage of upcoming holidays by hosting themed parties. Halloween is a great time to be home as your neighbors will actually come to you!  Be sure to have lots of candy and make the most of this opportunity to make new friends.
When you see someone move in, try and stop by with a small housewarming gift or homemade treat to welcome them to the neighborhood. Share some helpful information you may have learned that will make their transition easier.
Getting to know your neighbors provides social benefits as well as added security.  It helps to have a friendly eye looking out for your home when you’re not around
What are ways you try to build community in your neighborhood?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Selling in Summer

Need to sell your current home so you can move into that brand new home you have your eye on? Selling a home in summer presents a unique set of circumstances and one that you  can prepare for to make your home more appealing.
Here are a few tips!
-        No matter what the season, curb appeal is essential. In the summer months be sure to keep your lawn watered and mowed. Pull weeds and keep bushes trim.

-        Keep your home cool and comfortable. This is especially true in the blazing heat of the South. Your home should be a welcome oasis to those out driving around and looking at real estate.

-        Take advantage of summer colors to accent your home. Add bright flowers to the table, update your front door color in a fun hue or buy new accent rugs that catch the eye.

-        If your home offers outdoor entertaining areas highlight these as much as possible! Pressure wash the deck or patio. Add some small furniture pieces to create and outdoor room.

-        As always be sure to declutter and depersonalize your home. This removes distractions so potential buyers can focus on the home itself. 
-        Consider putting out some refreshments such as lemonade or cookies.

Every season has it’s selling advantages and disadvantages. If you take care of your home and price it right you can overcome seasonal obstacles and get into the new home of your dreams!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Financing Your Home

Once you’ve found the new home of your dreams it’s time to work on your financing so you can make a strong offer and get the process moving along!
While you are looking for homes, begin getting your financial documents in order so you don’t have to wait!  The mortgage process doesn’t have to be daunting – especially if you can do a little at a time to prepare.
So what do you need to apply?  Here are some documents you can gather and have ready:
-        The W-2 form from the last two year’s taxes
-        Most recent pay stub
-        Tax returns from the previous year
-        A complete list of debts such as credit cards, student loans, car payments, etc.
-        A list of your assets including bank statements and investment records
-        Documents of retirement accounts
Other information you’ll need is:
-        Social security number
-        Residence history for at least two years
-        Employment history for at least two years
-        Information on any gifts that may be used toward down payment or loan
As the mortgage process progresses there may be a need for more information or details on the information you provide. Don’t be discouraged! Remind yourself that once this process is complete you’ll have a brand new home!

Friday, July 6, 2018

How to reduce home allergies

Allergies are a real problem for millions of Americans.  Popular allergens can be found outdoors such as pollen or indoors such as dust.
The top indoor allergens are dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and cockroach particles. Symptoms can include a stuffy or runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and in some cases asthma.
Here are a few ways you can cut back on indoor allergens and make your home an easier place to breathe.
-        Control dust as much as possible. Keep surfaces uncluttered and dust frequently. Use cleaning tools such as microfiber that catch dust instead of just dispersing it back into the air.
-        Vacuum once or twice a week. Make sure that your vacuum is equipped with a HEPA filter for optimal results.
-        During peak pollen season keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
-        Regularly wash bed linens and towels and use hot water to do so.
-        Reduce moisture build up by running ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchen.
-        Keep pests like cockroaches and mice out of the home with regular treatments or traps.
-        Maintain an overall cool temperature in the home (between 68-72 degrees) and humidity no higher than 50 percent.
-        Have pets? Bathe them once a week to cut down on pet dander.
How do you maintain an allergen free home?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Understanding Home Styles

If you’re a fan of home television shows you’ve most likely heard the following terms used to describe a home’s style – Craftsman, Contemporary, Colonial, or Mid-Century Modern.  But do you know what they mean? Which style is the one for you? Before you start shopping for your new home, brush up on these terms and determine what type of home fits your personality.
Craftsman style homes are typically identified as having the following characteristics:
-        Wood or stone siding
-        Wide overhanging eaves
-        Decorative beams or gables
-        Dormer windows
-        Full or partial porches accented with columns
Contemporary homes can be identified by the following:
-        Stone, brick or wood exteriors
-        Steep roofs or hip roofs
-        Large windows
-        Irregular sometimes asymmetrical shape
-        Eco-friendly and natural materials
-        Open floor plans with lots of natural light
Colonial style homes have been around since the 1800’s and often incorporate:
-        Brick or wood exteriors
-        Two windows on each side of the entry and five windows on the second floor
-        One window above the entry door
-        Simple, symmetrical style
-        Front door as a focal point for the exterior
Mid-Century Modern
These homes often share the following style points:
-        Exteriors of stone or brick
-        Flat or gabled roofs
-        Oversized windows and sliding glass doors
-        Lots of open space

Friday, June 22, 2018

What is Home Equity?

There are so many benefits to owning a home. From tax deductions to the pride of ownership, you can find lots of reasons to take the plunge and buy.  Today we’ll talk about another aspect of home ownership – home equity.
Home equity is the amount your home is worth minus the amount owed on your mortgage.  For example if your home is worth $250,000 and your mortgage is $150,000 then you have $100,000 equity in your home.
If the value of your home remains relatively stable over time, your equity will increase as your mortgage continues to decrease.
Your home’s value will fluctuate over time as the market rises and falls.  To keep up the value of your home ensure you keep up with your home’s maintenance and make improvements as necessary.
Home equity allows you to do several things:
-        Receive more cash for your home if you choose to sell in the future
-        Invest the money from the equity in your home toward a new home purchase
-        Receive a loan based on the equity you have in your home
With a brand new home, your home value is high due to the demand for new homes in the area and the newness of your home’s construction and materials.  To increase your equity in this situation, consider decreasing the debt on your home by making extra payments or refinancing to a shorter mortgage term.
If you are in the process of buying a new home, making a larger down payment will also quickly increase the equity you have in your home.
How do you keep up the value of your largest investment – your home?