The Blog

Do you have a few of these sitting around your house??

Every once in a while I go back in the MLS and look at some of the houses I have helped people to buy and sell over the years. It’s a nice little walk down memory lane. I think about the people involved, and the funny, or not so funny, moments we had together. It always brings a smile to my face and sometimes a tear to my eye. A few weeks ago I came across a few listings in particular from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s which caught me by surprise. I looked at the prices and said to myself, WOW think of what those houses would sell for now!

I was talking to my business coach a little later that day and mentioned it to him. He suggested that I send people a note about their house, with a $100,000 candy bar for each $100,000 in equity I thought they had. Sounded like a fun idea, until I thought about a package showing up with a couple of chocolate bars that’d been sitting outside in the DC summer. Not pretty. I think that you’d never talk to me again! So I put pictures on the postcard instead 🙂

What’s the point of all of this? Do you ever wonder what your house is worth? C’mon, of course you do. Everyone does! 30% of the people who come through open houses are neighbors keeping an eye on values in the neighborhood. They aren’t in the market but they’re watching. I’ve got a couple of ways for you to get some more information about what your home’s worth.

I can do a custom search for you of market activity in your neighborhood. I’m happy to provide the service to you. I just need a few minutes on the phone to make sure I remember what’s in the house and what sort of improvements or updates you might’ve made. I’ll do some research in your neighborhood and put together a report for you. No charge, no obligation, just a little something from me to you.

I also have access to a couple of different computer generated pricing models. I’m not a huge fan of these “instant” valuations. They are rough estimates, a good starting point. There are so many factors they can’t really quantify, but I play around with them every once in a while, just to see what they come up with.

Drop me an email, text or give me a call. I’m happy to set either of them up for you. I hope that you’re having a great end of summer, and that I’ll hear from you soon.

 

Cheers,

Harry

Choices, lots of choices! What’s the best flooring choice for our kitchen?

I am asked the question ” what’s the best flooring choice for our kitchen? “quite often. People are always thinking about upgrading their kitchen, and flooring is one of the many choices. The kitchen is the heart of your home, literally as well as figuratively. That means it’s a room in need of a sturdy floor that can cope with spills, dropped dishes, and stomping feet (even if the feet are small). It’s also a room that has a lot of foot traffic and may even the room you use for entertaining and family gatherings. When we renovated our kitchen a few years ago, the flooring question was the subject of much discussion. I voted for tile, but Shelley wanted hardwood. Take a guess as to what the final choice was :)

Ask these questions about the flooring in your home:

When replacing the floor in your kitchen, it is extremely important to think about your needs and lifestyle to determine the type of floor that is right for you.Do you have or will you have kids or pets?

What is your budget?

  • Is your house formal and elegant or relaxed and casual?
  • Are you planning to live in your home for years to come or are you thinking of selling?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to think about specific flooring options. Flooring comes in many shapes, styles, sizes, and finishes. Wood floors are certainly a beautiful option for your home, although they can be very expensive. Wood is also vulnerable to warping and water damages  from appliances. For the look of wood with more durability, porcelain tiles that look like wood may be an option to consider. Another good alternative to wood is bamboo.  Tile is a versatile option for the kitchen in your home, as well. Tile comes in many colors and can go with lots of different styles. No matter which material you choose for the flooring in your home, you’ll find a new floor can instantly revive your kitchen. Before making a decision, visit a few showrooms and ask your friends and neighbors what they like and dislike about their floors, or feel free to give me a call and we can discuss it. I see lots of kitchens, beautiful and not so, and would be happy to share my thoughts with you. You may find that your research leads to you making an unexpected choice in flooring. Good luck!

 

Dealing with Financing

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends  in the neighborhood. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

 

Relocating to the Big City

Moving from a small town or suburb to a large city can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.

Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before.

Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few weeks of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.

Get involved. Meeting people in a big city can be daunting. Don’t expect the neighbors to knock your door down with a casserole when you arrive: city life is often too noisy and hectic. Take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in the city. Try new things. Volunteer. Big cities offer so many opportunities to engage other people, so find what you like.

Mind your wallet. City life is expensive. Everything costs more: food, insurance, clothes, rent. There are also a lot more ways to get ripped off, whether legally or criminally. Be careful how you spend, and know where your money is going.