IMPORTANT MARKET UPDATE! WITH A FREE PIE! month of November only

November 3rd, 2014

MARKET UPDATE:

The Federal Reserve has announced they will be increasing interest rates 1.5-2.5% by mid- summer of 2015. They will be implementing bigger step increases because they found the .5-.75% increases did not correct the economy fast enough and feel we have lost touch on what normal interest rates are. The interest rates were also staying low because the number of mortgages and refinances were way down and we had fewer lenders.

So a buyer who was approved for $250,000 could only buy up to $222,500 if rates were increased 1%. This affects both buyer’s purchasing power and seller’s ability to get the maximum price on their homes.

Don’t wait to buy or list your home. Receive a free apple or pumpkin pie for any of these services below:

* Sign up to receive listings and get educated on what is available in your price range and area now.
* Receive a complimentary market analysis on your home.
* Have me take exterior pictures of your home now before the snow flies.
* Learn how to prioritize winter projects for maximum profits.
* Create a schedule for de-cluttering your home room by room and stick to it.
* Have me pre-market your home on our Blue Net intranet before it hits the MLS to facilitate a quick sale.

Please contact me for any of these complimentary services above. All well-taken care of homes sell faster for more money. Otherwise, keep this letter on file in case your circumstances should change or you know someone who needs my services! You will still receive a pie! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,
MP900384682[1]
Cheryl Holds
Coldwell Banker Burnet
caholds@cbburnet.com
(612)741-0904
www.CherylHolds.com

Your NOVEMBER Home Maintenance To-Do List

November 3rd, 2014

With cold weather and the holidays fast approaching, this month’s to-do list focuses on some of the less obvious, but very important, indoor cleaning and repair tasks to get your home in tip-top shape for holiday guests.

From cleaning your garbage disposal and faucet aerators to fixing squeaky door hinges and sticky locks, our November home to-do list covers the bases without breaking your back or budget. Most of these chores are quick and easy; and, best of all, they take few materials or tools.

So set aside an afternoon in November to knock out this home maintenance to-do list, then sit back and enjoy a cup of hot cider!

To-Do #1: Clean Garbage Disposal
Before hosting a big Thanksgiving party, take a few minutes to clean and freshen up your garbage disposal first. This chore couldn’t be easier, here’s how.

To Clean a Garbage Disposal:
Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the disposal.
Follow it with a cup of white vinegar. The vinegar and baking soda will react to form frothy bubbles.
When the bubbles subside, pour a pot of boiling water down the disposal and let it sit for about five minutes.
Turn on the water in the sink and the disposal, and let it run until the disposal is rinsed out.
To keep your disposal smelling fresh, put some leftover chunks of lemon in an ice cube tray, cover them with water, and freeze. Whenever your garbage disposal gets a bit funky, run a few “lemon cubes” through the disposal for a quick freshen-up.

The ice chunks will scour the blades and scrape away stuck-on debris inside the disposal!

To-Do #2: Clean Sink Faucet Aerators
Clogged sink aerators can cause reduced water flow or an unevenly spray when you turn on bathroom or kitchen faucets. This is another easy task using white vinegar, and the hard work is done while you’re sleeping!

To clean a faucet aerator:
Unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet.
Drop the aerator in a bowl of white vinegar.
Let the aerator sit overnight.
The next day, rinse the vinegar off the aerator.
Screw the aerator back on the faucet, and you’re done!

To-Do #3: Clean Clothes Washer Water Line Filters
Water lines on washing machines have filters to prevent sediment from getting into the machine. If it seems like your washer is taking longer to fill up, clogged filters may be the culprit. It may be a little awkward to get to the washer water inlets; but once you do, cleaning water filters is quick and easy, here’s how.

To Clean Washer Water Line Filters:
Turn off the water supply valves, located in the supply box behind or beside your washer.
If possible, pull the washer out from the wall so that you can get behind it. If this isn’t feasible, you’ll need to reach over or behind the washer to get to the inlet lines.
Unscrew the supply lines from the washer, and locate the filters on the machine inlets.
Use a spray bottle and small, stiff brush to scrub away any dirt or debris on the filters.
Reconnect the water hoses, making sure the hot and cold lines are attached to the correct intakes.
Turn the water valves back on and check for leaks.

To-Do #4: Lubricate Door Locks
When you’re busy and on the go during the holidays, sticky door locks can really slow you down. Fortunately, the solution is quick and easy.

Pick up a small tube or bottle of graphite at your home center or hardware store, making sure to choose one with a narrow tip for easy application. Graphite is a dry powder, which makes it the perfect lubricant for door locks, since it doesn’t attract dust or dirt.

Put down a piece of newspaper or plastic to protect the floor under the door lock, and squirt a small amount of powdered graphite into the keyhole. Insert the key and turn it a few times to distribute the lubricant throughout the lock mechanism, and you’re done!

To-Do #5: Fix Squeaky Door Hinges
While you’re at it, give some attention to those squeaky door hinges as well. It won’t be long before Christmas is here, and you wouldn’t want a squeaky hinge calling attention to any sneaky elves!

You can use powdered graphite for door hinges, but the black powder can sift down and stain your floors. For better results, pick up a small container of white lithium grease or machine oil.

To Lubricate Door Hinges:
Close and latch the door.
Use a hammer and nail, or a nail set, to tap out the hinge pin.
Coat the hinge pin with a small amount of white lithium grease or machine oil. A little goes a long way!
Tap the hinge pin back in the hinge.
Open and close the door a few times to distribute the lubricate.
Use a rag to wipe up any extra grease or oil that squeezes out of the hinge.

To-Do #6: Test Smoke and CO Alarms
With cold weather arriving and furnaces and fireplaces cranking up, this is a good time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to make sure they’re functioning properly.

Press and hold the “test” button on the smoke or CO detector to make sure the alarm goes off. Replace the batteries if the alarm doesn’t work, or if the batteries are more than a year old, then test again.

Be sure to write the date the battery was replaced on the battery or on a piece of tape stuck to the back of the alarm. It’s also a good idea to blow out smoke and CO alarms with canned air periodically to remove dust. Also, be sure to replace any alarms that are over than 10 years.

To-Do #7: Check and Repair Bathtub Caulkhome-maintenance2
Last, but not least, head into the bathroom to give a little attention to the caulk around the bathtub. When the caulk gets cracked or falls out, water can get behind the tub and cause water damage to your home’s framing, as well as mold growth.

Inspect the caulk around your tub. If it’s worn or cracked (or stained and unsightly), it’s time to replace it, here’s how.

How To Replace Bathtub Caulk
Use a putty knife or chisel to scrape out and remove the existing caulk, being careful not to scratch your bathtub.
Use diluted bleach in a spray bottle to kill any mold or mildew growing in or around the tub joint.
Dry the crack completely with a hair dryer.
Apply a bead of 100% silicone caulk to the joint between the tub and surround. Be sure not to overdo it, a narrow bead of caulk looks better than a wide one!
Smooth out the caulk by misting caulk with denatured alcohol, or dipping your finger in mineral spirits, and running your finger along the caulk bead. For best results, smooth the entire bead with one stroke. Be sure to put on disposable gloves first!

AIR-CONDITIONER MAINTENANCE

July 8th, 2014

AC maintenance

The best time to service an air conditioner is before it’s actually needed.

Regular maintenance and cleaning are extremely important.

Change the filter monthly. Other than the regular filter, there are additional ones that can be used, but check with an air-conditioning maintenance person first.

You can get a cap from a hardware store to put on the end of your air-conditioning drain. After capping it, find the end of the drain outside and use a dry vacuum to suck out the dirt. Be sure to remove the cap once it has been vacuumed.

An air-conditioning technician needs to use a high pressure vacuum to clear the drain. It should be done yearly to avoid any backup that could cause mold growth in your air conditioner and water damage to ceilings and walls.

To clean the air-conditioner coils, make sure the power from the unit is disconnected first. Wet the area you are cleaning with a garden hose. Using gloves and safety glasses, spray the commercial air-conditioner cleaner (available at an HVAC supplier) onto the coils. Let it set for a short while and then rinse it down thoroughly with the garden hose.

For video click here: http://www.diynetwork.com/videos/essential-ac-maintenance/7864.html

Are You Prepared for Your Home to Flood?

June 25th, 2014

home floodingFlood Insurance Questions & Answers
Who Can or Must Buy Flood Insurance?
Who CAN Purchase Flood Insurance?

Anyone who lives in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can buy flood insurance. More than 93% of all Minnesotans live in a community enrolled in NFIP.
NOTE: It is NOT NECESSARY for your property to be mapped in a high flood risk area (1% annual chance or “100-year” floodplain) in order to be eligible to purchase flood insurance.
Can Renters purchase NFIP flood insurance?
YES! NFIP flood insurance is sold separately for contents coverage. Renters can purchase up to $100,000 coverage for contents.
Who is REQUIRED to get flood insurance?Home flooding
Property owners are required to purchase flood insurance if the insured structure is located within the high flood risk area (1% annual chance or “100-year” floodplain) and if the property has a mortgage or loan on it from a federally regulated institution. This includes most types of mortgages, home equity loans, etc.
NOTE: Flood insurance is mandatory if the STRUCTURE is in the high flood risk area. It is NOT mandatory if just unimproved land is in the high flood risk area, however, a lender may have a policy of requiring flood insurance.
Where do I buy NFIP flood insurance?
NFIP flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and is backed by the federal government. Check with the agent with whom you have your home or automobile insurance. You can also go to www.floodsmart.gov and choose “Agent Locator” under the “Resources” section.
How Much Flood Insurance Should I Buy?
For federally secured financing in the FEMA-mapped high flood risk area (i.e., the mapped 1% annual chance floodplain, aka the 100-year floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)), the law requires flood insurance in an amount equal to the outstanding principal balance of the loan, the value of the building, or the maximum coverage available, whichever is less. It also requires flood insurance to be maintained for the life of the loan.
While the law requires coverage only for the loan balance, you should consider protecting your equity. It is wise to insure primary residences, and businesses, in sufficient amounts to fully protect your building and its contents.
The NFIP provides up to $250,000 coverage for single-family residential buildings and up to $100,000 coverage for contents. Businesses can obtain up to $500,000 coverage for buildings and up to $500,000 coverage for contents. Other residential property owners can also obtain flood insurance.
What Communities Participate? How Does a Community Get in the Program?
How Many Flood Insurance Policies are there in Minnesota?
As of February 2011 there were over 12,000 policies in Minnesota, representing an increase of 3000 from February 2009. Of the 12,185 policies in February 2011, 42% were for structures in an “A Zone”, the high flood risk area that is also called the “100-year” or 1 percent annual chance floodplain. That means that more than half of the flood insurance policies in Minnesota were in the medium flood risk (the “500-year” floodplain) or the low flood risk (no mapped flood risk) zones. Since FEMA does not map small ponds or streams, those with the policies in the “low risk” areas may realize that the local conditions really put them at a higher risk than acknowledged on the FEMA maps; those landowners are wise to take advantage of the lower flood insurance premiums available to them since they are in the low risk areas on the FEMA map.
My community doesn’t participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Can I still get flood insurance?
If you live in a community that is not enrolled in the NFIP and want to purchase flood insurance, you will have to search for an agent or company willing to underwrite a private policy. Those policies are usually much more expensive than the policies available through the NFIP. Alternatively, you could contact your local officials and urge them to enroll your community in the NFIP (see link to the process above).
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Doesn’t my Homeowners Policy cover flooding?

NO. In most cases, flood damage is NOT covered by homeowners’ policies.
Does NFIP flood insurance cover contents?
YES, but NFIP flood insurance is sold separately for building and contents coverage. Home and business owners need to ask questions if it is unclear whether the NFIP flood insurance includes the building coverage, contents coverage or both. (The exception is with a “Preferred Risk Policy”, or PRP, where the building and contents coverage is bundled together in set increments.)
WARNING: For federally secured loans, federal law mandates purchase of flood insurance if the insurable STRUCTURE is in a FEMA mapped high-risk flood zone. (NOTE: The federal mandate to purchase flood insurance is not applicable if part of the lot, but no insurable structure, is in the high flood risk area.) However, the lender only has to require building flood insurance coverage. Home and business owners should be aware that contents coverage must be purchased separately.
Does NFIP flood insurance cover groundwater seepage?
In most cases, the answer is NO. NFIP flood insurance covers direct physical losses caused by “flood”. For the NFIP flood insurance program, a “flood” is defined:
A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from:
Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
Mudflow*; or
Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
* Mudflow is defined as “A river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water .. ”
Can I get covered for landslides caused by heavy rainfall?
Unfortunately, as several homeowners learned in SE Minnesota after the 2007 flood, neither NFIP flood insurance nor most homeowners’ insurance policies cover landslides.
Does NFIP Flood Insurance Cover Sewer Backups?
NFIP flood insurance only covers sewer backups if it can be shown it was directly related to a general condition of flooding in the area. Sewer backup is not usually covered by standard homeowners’ insurance. A separate endorsement is available from most insurance companies, but you may need to specifically ask about its availability.
What is the Deductible and Should I Consider a Higher Deductible?
The standard deductible is $500 for flood insurance coverage in the low and medium flood risk areas, and when the structure is “post-FIRM” (i.e., built after the first FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map was published). The standard deductible is $1,000 for “pre-FIRM” structures (i.e., the structure was built before FEMA mapped the high flood hazard area, and is “grandfathered”).
It is possible to reduce the annual premium cost by choosing a higher deductible, however, you should carefully consider whether that is a good option based on the type of flooding and damage you are most likely to experience. In the past, one of the most common types of flooding damage for homeowners in Minnesota has been basement flooding that resulted in the need for replacement of their furnace, water heater and similar utilities. Many homeowners have been upset when they realized they had a $5,000 deductible, meaning a minimal insurance claim.
Does the NFIP flood insurance offer any type of basement coverage?
Yes it does. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements (such as finished walls, floors, or ceilings), or personal belongings kept in a basement (such as furniture and other contents), it does cover structural elements and essential equipment.
What is insured under Building Property coverage?
Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases attached to the building.
Central air conditioners.
Cisterns and the water in them.
Drywall for walls and ceilings.
Nonflammable insulation.
Electrical outlets, switches, and circuit breaker boxes.
Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, well water tanks and pumps.
Furnaces, hot water heaters, heat pumps, and sump pumps.
What is insured under Personal Property coverage?
Washers and dryers.
Food freezers and the food in them (but not refrigerators).
Portable and window air conditioners.
What is not insured by either Building Property or Personal Property coverage?
Paneling, bookcases, and window treatments such as curtains and blinds.
Carpeting, area carpets, and other floor coverings such as tile.
Walls and ceilings not made of drywall.
Most personal property such as clothing, electronic equipment, kitchen supplies, and furniture.
The NFIP recommends both building and contents coverage for the broadest protection.
It Will Cost Me Extra to Meet the Local Regulations When I Rebuild. Will NFIP Flood Insurance Cover That Cost? (Or What is Increased Cost of Compliance – ICC – Coverage?)
NFIP flood insurance includes a rider to the policy for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC). The ICC coverage is applicable if: the structure is in the FEMA mapped high flood hazard area, there was flooding, and the local community determines that flooding caused the structure to be substantially damaged (the cost to bring it to the pre-disaster condition is more than 50% of the structure’s market value).
ICC provides up to $30,000 for the additional cost to bring the structure into compliance with local floodplain management regulations. ICC can pay the cost to elevate, demolish, move or floodproof (non-residential only) the structure.
How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
In Minnesota, the average annual premium is $691 (as of February 2009), but can range from $119 annually for building & contents coverage through a Preferred Risk Policy outside of the high flood risk area to even tens of thousands of dollars for non-compliant post-FIRM structures (built after FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map showed area as high flood risk).
The main factors are your level of risk, the amount of coverage you need, the elevation of your lowest floor compared to the calculated 1% annual chance (“100-year”) flood, and whether your structure was built (or substantially improved) before (pre-) or after (post-) the FEMA first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) mapped the area as a high flood risk area.
See www.floodsmart.gov for a “One-Step Flood Risk Profile”. This profile will help you …
determine whether you are in a high, medium or low flood risk area
give you estimates of flood insurance premiums for your situation
find an insurance agent
What’s My Risk? Should I Get Flood Insurance?
How can I find out the level of flood risk on my property?
Go to the “One-Step Flood Risk Profile” at www.floodsmart.gov to find your level of risk on the official FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for your community. Not all communities have a FIRM. Areas with lower flood risk, and that were not anticipated to have much development when maps were done in the 1970s and 1980s were not mapped.
Then, even if the FIRM (the FEMA floodplain map) shows your property in the low flood risk area, think about any small ponds or streams near or on your property, or areas that don’t drain well. Keep in mind that FEMA only maps streams that drain at least one square mile and larger basins.
Think about how your property drains (or is drained upon!). Many unmapped areas get flooded when there are very intense rains, or floods larger than the 1% annual chance flood (or “100-year flood”). Floods can happen almost anywhere! We’ve had several isolated areas of 12-15 inches of rain in Minnesota in the last 20 years. See a summary of storms since 1970 with more than 6-inches of rain in a 24-hour period in Minnesota.
Can’t I just get disaster assistance if a flood occurs?
NOT NECESSARILY. Federal disaster assistance is only available if the President of the United States formally declares a disaster in that county. Even if your county is declared, most disaster assistance is in the form of a loan that you have to repay, with interest, in addition to your mortgage loan that you still owe on the damaged property. If your home is flooded and disaster assistance isn’t offered, you’ll have to shoulder the damage costs alone.

Protect Your Home from Water and Moisture Damage

June 19th, 2014

Rain_Home

For people, water is necessary for survival. However, for a house, water can be a destructive force that can lead to wood rot, peeling paint, insect infestation, shorter lifespan of roofing and siding and higher maintenance costs.

Investigate, Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks The best way to prevent water damage from rainwater and snowmelt is to ensure the exterior materials of the building are properly constructed and maintained. The following are tips for identifying and eliminating sources of water intrusion in your home. Common places where water intrusion occurs:

Windows and Doors: Check for leaks around your windows and doors, especially near the corners. Check for peeling paint, it can be a sign of water getting into the wood. Inspect for discolorations in paint or caulking, swelling of the window or doorframe or surrounding materials.

Roof: Repair or replace shingles around any area that allows water to penetrate the roof sheathing. Leaks are particularly common around chimneys, plumbing vents and attic vents. To trace the source of a ceiling leak, measure its location from the nearest outside wall and then locate this point in the attic using a measuring tape. Keep in mind that the water may run along the attic floor, rafters, or truss for quite a distance before coming through the ceiling.

Foundation and Exterior Walls: Seal any cracks and holes in external walls, joints, and foundations, in particular, examine locations where piping or wiring extends through the outside walls. Fill all cracks in these locations with sealant.

Plumbing: Check for leaking faucets, dripping or “sweating” pipes, clogged drains, and faulty water drainage systems Inspect washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or wetness. Replace them every few years or sooner if problems are found. Inspect the water heater for signs of rust or water on the floor.

Termite-Damaged Material:
Check for termite damage in wood materials such as walls, beams, or floors. Any wood exposed to the exterior can potentially lead to moisture intrusion or termite infestation.

Prevent Water Damage Through Good Home Maintenance

You can help prevent future leaks and water intrusion by regularly inspecting the following elements in your home and making sure they remain in good condition.

Flashing: Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors, windows, thresholds, chimneys, and roofs, is designed to prevent water intrusion in spaces where two different building surfaces meet.

Vents: All vents, including clothes dryer, gable vents, attic vents, and exhaust vents, should have hoods, exhaust to the exterior, be in good working order, and have boots.

Attics: Check for holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house and make sure there is enough insulation to keep house heat from escaping. Among other things, air leaks and inadequate insulation results in ice damming. If ice dams collect around the lower edge of a roof, rain or melted snow can back up under the shingles and into the attic or the house. Check the bottom side of the roof sheathing and roof rafters or truss for water stains.

Basements: Make sure that basement windows and doors have built-up barriers or flood shields. Inspect sump pumps to ensure they work properly. A battery backup system is recommended. The sump pump should discharge as far away from the house as possible.

Humidity: The relative humidity in your home should be between 30% and 50%. (We offer an Indoor Humidity calculator on the Home Planner Welcome Page.) Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, and musty smells are signs that you may have too much humidity in your home. Check areas where air does not easily circulate, such as behind curtains, under beds, and in closets for dampness and mildew. Be sure to use bathroom exhaust fans following warm showers or baths. When going on trips, turn the temperature up on the air conditioning, not off. The air conditioning system helps remove moisture from your home. If you are concerned about the humidity level in your home, consult with a mechanical contractor or air conditioning repair company to determine if your HVAC system is properly sized and in good working order.

Air Conditioners: Check drain pans to insure they drain freely, are adequately sloped toward the outlets and that no standing water is present. Make sure drain lines are clean and clear of obstructions. Drain pan overflows usually occur the first time the unit is turned on in the spring. Clean prior to first use with compressed air or by pouring a water-bleach solution down the drain line until it flows freely.

Expansion Joints: Expansion joints are materials between bricks, pipes, and other building materials that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not in good condition, water intrusion can occur. If there are cracks in the joint sealant, remove the old sealant, install a backer rod and fill with a new sealant.

Exterior Wood Sheathing and Siding: Replace any wood siding and sheathing that appears to have water damage. Inspect any wood sided walls to ensure there is at least 8″ between any wood and the earth.

Drywall: Since drywall is an extremely porous material and is difficult to dry out completely, damaged areas should be replaced if any signs of moisture are present. One way to protect drywall from moisture intrusion in the event of a flood is to install it slightly above the floor and cover the gap with molding.

Exterior Walls: Exterior walls should be kept well painted and sealed. Don’t place compost or leaf piles against the outside walls. Landscape features should not include soil or other bedding material mounded up against walls.

Landscaping: Keep trees trimmed so that branches are at least 7 feet away from any exterior house surface. This will help prolong the life of your siding and roof and prevent insects from entering your home from the tree. Vines should be kept off all exterior walls, because they can help open cracks in the siding, which allows moisture or insects to enter the house.

Irrigation: Inspect and adjust the spray pattern of the irrigation heads to minimize the water sprayed directly onto the house to avoid excessive water near the foundation.

Act Quickly if Water Intrusion Occurs

If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the problem quickly and thoroughly. If water is flowing into the home from burst piping or damaged appliances, shut off the water supply, typically found outside the house or at the meter. Immediately remove standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a licensed building professional who can determine the extent of the repairs necessary. Water damage left unattended can result in structural failure or, potentially, mold growth.

Should your home become damaged by a catastrophic event such as fire, flood or storm, take appropriate actions to prevent further water damage once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, or removing wet, damaged rugs, carpet, or personal belongings. Fast action on your part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.

Take Photos of Your Home: Right Now (Even If You Aren’t Planning on Selling Yet)

June 9th, 2014


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It finally feels like Spring around here. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming—and your home has probably never looked better. Spring is a great time to photograph your home’s exterior, even if you don’t have plans to sell just yet. Make it a habit to take photos of your humble abode at this time every year so you’ll always have photos of your home looking its best.


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You never know when life might take a turn. A new job or an unbeatable real estate deal might have you looking to sell your home on short notice. Or perhaps you have been thinking hard about moving in the near future, but without concrete plans you haven’t taken any steps to sell.

Any real estate professional will tell you that great photos can sell a home. (How many of you have passed on an apartment or house because of crappy photos online?) Rather than find yourself struggling to get a great photo of your home when you’re rushing to sell in the dark cold December, take photos of your lush lawn and bright walls right now in the sunny springtime to capture your home’s curb appeal at its highest for potential buyers. (Don’t forget the backyard and garden!)


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Even if you’re not selling anytime soon, it’s still nice to have beautiful photos of your home to enjoy. Also remember to take pictures of before and after projects you do on your home, it will help it sell and be a great memory!

Enter the “What’s Your Front Door View” Contest!!!

June 3rd, 2014

What’s Your Front Door View?

new front door

If the curb appeal of your home could use a little sprucing up, we’ve got just the answer. Enter our “What’s Your Front Door View?” contest from Today’s Homeowner and Window World for a chance to win a beautiful new entry door for your home valued at up to $5000!

To enter, go to todayshomeowner.com/contest/ and fill out the entry form, including a photo of you and/or your family with the front door on your home and a 100 word or less caption of why you think you should win.

Entries can be submitted from June 2 through July 13, 2014. So what are you waiting for, enter today for your chance to win!

 

What Will Your Mortgage Payment be?

May 27th, 2014

Mortgage

 

Use this calculator to see what your payments would be and if you could afford your dream home!

Mortgage Calculator

Additional mortgage calculators are under the “Free Information Tab” up above.

Be ready to buy your first home!!

May 21st, 2014

THE TURNING-POINT CHECKLIST

12 months in advance

  • Make sure the time is right. Use Trulia.com’s rent or buy calculator to see if you’d really come out ahead, based on loan rates, taxes, and where rents and prices are headed in your area. Nationwide it’s 38% cheaper buying vs. renting.
  • Clean up your act. Devote this year to saving money and paying down debt. You’ll need at least 3.5% down for an FHA loan, or 10% to 20% for a conventional mortgage. Lenders also like to see job stability, so settle in for now.
  • Learn what you like. When a home catches your eye — a listing, say, or a photo — pin it to a board on Pinterest. Or try Swipe, a new app from the site Doorsteps, which lets you browse listing photos and mark them pass or save.

Six months out

  • Look better to lenders. To boost your credit score, order your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and fix any mistakes. Pay bills on time, chip away at credit card balances, avoid new debt, and don’t close any accounts or apply for new credit. The average credit score for approved mortgage applicants is 755.
  • Figure out what you can buy. Use an online calculator like the one at Zillow.com to estimate how much house you can afford based on your income, savings, and debts. That’ll help you research homes and drill down on costs.
  • Forecast future bills. With an idea of how big a house you can buy, you can do a more detailed budget. Scan listings for property taxes on homes you like. Get a homeowners insurance quote at Insweb.com. Call local utility companies for the typical bills. And tack on 1% of the home’s value for yearly maintenance.

Three months out

  • Pick your loan. Fixed mortgage rates, now 4.4%, may edge up to 5% this year, forecasts HSH.com. If you are confident this is a starter home, you can save with a 7/1 adjustable-rate loan, now 3.5%. The risk: You end up staying longer than seven years and rates rise sharply. Most — 92% of mortgage borrowers — opt for fixed-rate loans.
  • Prove you’re a serious shopper. Based on your income and credit, a bank will give you a mortgage pre-approval. “It’s the No. 1 thing you want in your back pocket when you go shopping,” says Svenja Gudell, an economist with Zillow.
  • Find a guide. Look for a realtor who has worked in the neighborhood where you hope to live. And in a tight market like today’s, ask candidates what their strategies are for unearthing listings and handling potential bidding wars.

By Karen Cheney May 2, 2014

February 28th, 2014

Do you have want my buyers want?!