9 Eyesores That Kill Your Home’s Value.

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First impressions are extremely important when you are selling a home.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression and in a blink of the eye you can turn people off.  When it comes to curb appeal, minutes count.

1. If your landscaping is drab plant some flowers to spruce the front up a bit, be sure to use a seasonal arrangement.  The best thing to do is to mix it up a bit but stick to a seasonal color scheme.

2. Take a look around, is there anything dying, like shrubs or trees?  This can turn a buyer away faster than you think.  Bag these up and dispose of them properly before the home hits the market.

3. Do you have a lawn?  Well think of a better pattern to mow your lawn.  Mowing it in the same direction all the time can hurt your lawn so try mowing in varying patterns to encourage lawn growth.  It can also be an attractive eye catcher for buyers looking at your home.

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4. A can of paint can go a long way to touch up the exterior of your home if you have faded or peeling paint.  Some lenders have issues with peeling paint so grab a brush and touch up those areas that are making things look ugly.

5. Garage doors can get dirty and dusty both inside and outside.  Gently hit this area with a hoes sprayer, not a power washer, to spruce up the garage door.  Also, getting rid of all those nasty cob webs inside the garage can help buyers feel less intimidated when they enter this area of your home.

6. If your home’s roof is more than 10 years old, this would be a good time to take a close look at the roof.  Look for loose or missing shingles and replace as needed.  Shingles of this age will start to break loose and buyers can spot them a mile away.

7. Clutter is bad, plain and simple.  You do not want your buyers looking at all the stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years that you’ve lived there.  Get rid of stuff by selling it, giving it away or donating it to a good cause.  You want your home to shine not look like a hoarder lives there.

8. Take notice of the front door.  Does it look drab?  If a new door is out of your budget then perhaps a fresh coat of paint will help?  Or consider new hardware for the front door.  A new door knob and new knocker can go a long way to attract buyers.

9. Driveways that are beaten up with age and lack of care can scare away buyers as well.  By having a fresh coat of sealer put on the driveway, you not only help to protect the driveway but will do wonders for buyers pulling into you home.

Realty Times Article

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How To Buy A House Without Going House Poor

How To Buy A House Without Going House Poor

How much house can you really afford? Is it the amount the bank tells you when preapproving your loan? That’s what most people go by, oftentimes spending up to their max approval amount to get as much house as possible – or to be able to afford something at all in tight markets.

The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, along with your credit score, is what is used by lenders to determine your loan approval and amount. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) efforts to keep this number low notwithstanding, it has been rising to levels that are concerning to industry insiders who fear a widespread wave of homebuyers overextending themselves and becoming unable to support their mortgage payment and other obligations.

The CFPB’s Qualified Mortgage (QM) Rule went into effect in 2014, intended to curb overleveraging by capping a borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio at 43 percent. “This means that a borrower’s total debt expense (including total mortgage payment) does not exceed 43% of their gross income (before taxes are withheld),” said the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). The rub: Many loans Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), are exempt from the 43 percent DTI limit.

The impact higher DTIs are having on the market is clear; a new WalletHub report “analyzed data from 2,533 U.S. cities and ranked all of them on the basis of a ‘WalletHub Home Overleverage Score,'” said 24/7 Wall St, finding that, in many cities, overleveraging is becoming the norm. “The score was derived from a city’s median mortgage debt, median house value, median income, mortgage debt-to-income ratio and mortgage debt-to-house value ratio.” The top 10 are all well over the 43 percent threshold, with the top three – San Luis Obispo, California at 59.62; Williamsburg, Virginia at 58.76; and Brooksville, Florida at 57.44) pushing 60 percent.

Getting in over your head with a house, either from the get-go when first purchasing, or later on with a home equity line that increases your monthly payments, is a dangerous scenario for homeowners (and for the market in general). So how do you keep yourself in check to make sure the house you’re buying is one you can actually afford and that you’re not in danger of becoming house poor?

Do your own calculations

The bank may be telling you that a $350,000 house is within your means, but are you OK with the monthly payment attached to that price? No one is more familiar with your spending habits than you. Are you really going to be able to cut $500 a month in discretionary spending (eating out, movies, clothes shopping, morning lattes) to comfortably make your new house payment?

Don’t forget about the extra expenses

If you’re buying your first home, you may not be estimating your new monthly expenses accurately. Did you include the HOA fee, if the community in which you’re looking to buy has one? What about any special assessments, if there are any? And private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you have an FHA loan and are putting less than 20 percent down on your home. That couple hundred dollars could put you over the top.

Have you also considered your utilities? You may not be accustomed to paying gas and electricity and water and trash if you’ve been living in an apartment. There could also be an increase in the cost of electricity if you have more square footage to heat and cool.


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Watch out for HELOCS

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can seem harmless. I mean, it’s your money, right? And you’re using it improve your home, which will only raise its value, right? But what seems like a great idea can also get you in trouble when you tap your home equity. You may be calculating the additional payment for now, but what happens later?

That’s the conundrum thousands are facing right now, as “HELOCs are resetting higher rates and overleveraging homeowners,” said Inman. “An analysis by Black Knight Financial shows that 1.5 million home equity lines of credit will see interest-only draw periods end this year with outstanding unpaid principal balances that average $62,500 per HELOC. The data reveals that average borrowers whose lines of credit reset will face an additional cost of $250 per month, more than double the current average payment.”

Keep an open mind

Finding a house you can afford may be challenging – especially for first-time buyers and those in competitive markets that push the affordability index. If you have tight parameters for your house hunt that are making it hard to find something within your budget, consider:

  • Extending your area search. You may not be aware of (but your Realtor probably is!) adjacent cities or communities that offer a similar lifestyle at a lower price or up-and-coming areas that provide a great value because they’re still slightly under the radar.
  • Buying a condo or townhome instead of a single-family home. Some buyers have an automatic aversion to condos and townhomes because they don’t like the idea of living attached. But your real estate agent may know of properties that are end units, that have private yards, and that are two-story units with no one above or below you. It may be that this is your best bet for homeownership you can really afford at this point, and you may find you like it far more than you expected – especially because so many of these communities come with great amenities like a pool and gym, plus front-yard landscaping that is taken care of, saving you time and money.
  • Looking at fixer-uppers. A little-known loan called an FHA 203(k) mortgage may be your “in” to a home you can afford and make your own. The bonus is that it’s also great for borrowers who may not have the credit and/or down payment to qualify for conventional loans. “The FHA requires a credit score of at least 580 if you want to make the minimum down payment; if you have 10% down, your score can be as low as 500,” said Interest.com. “You can borrow more than the home is worth, as long as the repairs will increase its appraised value. The most you can borrow is 110% of what an appraiser estimates it will be worth after renovations, or the cost of the home plus the estimated renovation cost, whichever is less, minus your down payment. The minimum down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5%.”

Realty Times Article

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Tired Of White Everything In Your House? Paint It Black!

White is crisp and cool. But if it’s all starting to feel a little clinical, you might be ready for a change. Bring some drama and sophistication to your space, not to mention a chic counterpoint to all that white, with the unexpected addition of black. Afraid to take that plunge into the deep, dark abyss? It’s easier than you think.

Black walls in an entry hall? All that glass, an eye-popping floor and ceiling, and glam details make this foyer a showstopper.


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The black floors and fireplace in actress Cameron Diaz’s Manhattan apartment look sleek, especially with the light tones in the rest of the space, and the mirrored fireplace wall, which bounces light around the room.

Who would have thought black walls in the bedroom would be so chic? Keep the other furnishings light and finish it off with a sparkly chandelier for maximum glam.


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You don’t have to cover almost every inch of your black walls with art… but it sure looks cool if you do.


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You also don’t have to paint every wall black. Look at how the black feature wall in this New York living room designed by Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent helps center the eye on the view out the dual windows. A stellar black coffee table and duo of chairs continue the color play.


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Soapstone is a great way to introduce the color into your kitchen because it’s a softer black that has some white veining.


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But if you really want to make a statement in the kitchen, deck it out in black from the cabinets to the integrated appliances to the countertops to the beams above. Keeping the island counter white gives you all the contrast you need for an exceptional space.


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Talk about glamour. If you’re thinking about black in the bathroom, take a cue from this chic space. Black, large-format subway tile and a black countertop work when you weave in some shiny chrome (and the big window streaming light into the space doesn’t hurt!).


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If you don’t want to make such a large or (semi-) permanent change, think about transforming a piece of furniture. A tired dresser gets a whole new life with a coat of black paint. This piece started out pretty ragged and outdated in light and mid-tone brown.


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The Do’s and Don’ts Of Flipping Houses

So you want to flip a house, do ya? Who doesn’t?! The real question is, can you hack it?

Here’s the thing. You can watch Flip or Flopand see that, despite all the drama in every episode (disagreement about floors/kitchen/overall spend, unpermitted addition/scary mold situation/ridiculous electrical nightmare that’s going to derail the whole thing) they still pretty much always make money. And that money is enticing. Obviously.

That’s why so many people want to do it. The most recent RealtyTrac analysis of this segment of the market shows that “6.6% of all single-family and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips. That’s up 20% from the previous quarter and 3% year over year. And the number of flippers grew by 8% from the first quarter of 2015,” said Fortune.

But, before you decide to forge ahead, you might want to give yourself a reality check. The Flip or Flop folks were BROKE for a long time after the last market crash before they started to make any money flipping. Like downsizing from a $6,000 per month mortgage to a $700 apartment broke. We’ve all seen them maxing out credit cards, borrowing from family, and paying outrageous rates to hard money lenders to get their deals done.

They make $10,000 per episode now, which is outside of any profit they make on the homes. They flip multiple properties at once, with the knowledge, experience, cash reserves, and network to pull it off successfully. It’s their full-time gig, so they’re able to dedicate far more time to the effort than the average “After 6/weekend flipper.”


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And then there’s the fact that, sometime during all their success building, their marriage unraveled. If you’re planning a family flip, keep in mind the stress involved. That’s “Do” number one. Here are several more, and an equal amount of “Don’ts” to keep you on track if you’re still looking to go for it.

Do: Hire good people – before you flip, not after, so you have your team in place and ready to go when you buy your house. And, also, to help you make smart choices about that purchase. “A smart way to go about your flip is by taking your contractors with you as you first tour the property so they can give you estimates on repairs immediately,” said Flipping Virgins host Egypt Sherrod on HGTV. “This way, you are not fishing around for estimates AFTER you’ve already purchased the property. This cuts down on renovation surprises.”

Don’t: Ignore red flags. Water damage, mold, asbestos, foundation issues – they may turn out to be small problems that are relatively easy to fix. Or they could be complete disasters that sink your budget and leave you in financial ruin. It’s generally best to save homes that are in severe disrepair for after you have a few flips under your belt.

Do: Secure your financing ahead of time. Winging it probably won’t yield the best results, especially if you don’t have a good handle on how much your flip will really cost.

Don’t: Go big the first time out of the gate. That mansion in the gated neighborhood that hasn’t been updated since 1972 might seem like a moneymaker, but without a ton of experience, processes that work, and a trusted network, you’ll probably be in over your head.

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Do: Pay attention to the market. Knowing which cities are best for flippingand keeping up on real estate trends and interest rate news can help make you successful.

Don’t: Just do the bare minimum when more is clearly needed. Everyone who’s ever bought a home to flip hopes and prays for one that just needs a fresh coat of paint and some new carpet. Get in, get out, get your money, right? But that’s an unlikely reality in many cases. Ignoring really outdated kitchens and baths and obvious defects probably won’t yield you the kind of return you’re envisioning.

Do: Pay attention to the neighborhood. That means taking a good look at what’s going on there, who lives there, and what the real estate values are. If you can’t identify growth potential, it might be best to walk away. Also, you don’t want to go super modern in a home that caters to a mostly classic crowd, and you never want to over-improve for the neighborhood or you probably won’t get your investment back.

Don’t: Blow your budget on day one. If you get into a bidding war or are trying to buy your first flip at auction, chances are good you’ll get caught up in the excitement and go over what you planned to spend.

Do: Price it right. Being too aggressive about pricing can be a downfall for any home for sale. But if you went over budget or over your time schedule and are eager to get your money out of your flip, you may be thinking that a higher sales price will even everything out. You’re spending money every day to carry that home, so it might be smarter to price it a little more competitively and get it sold. Then, you can be on to your next flip!

Don’t: Blow your budget on day two, either. Once you’ve bought your first flip house, you might want to run right out and buy all the pretty materials you’ve been thinking about. And those can be budget-busters. Stick to the budget you’ve made by making savvy buys and swapping where necessary. If you see a great flooring deal that saves you $1,000, the best move is to bank that money in case of an emergency (or to fatten your profit). But if you want to upgrade to the countertop that’s going to be the best fit for the kitchen, you now have the money.

Do: Know your limits. Planning to tile the whole house yourself? Have you ever tiled a whole house before? Or even a bathroom? No? Overvaluing your skill level and taking on projects you’re not qualified for may just leave you frustrated, potentially injured, and probably in need of a professional to ultimately come and clean up your mess. Can you save money by DIYing? Sure. But making smart choices will help things progress smoothly instead of holding them up and costing you more money in the long run.

Don’t: Buy your first flip at auction. “Some auction companies have open houses so potential bidders can walk through the properties ahead of time,” said Investopedia. But for many auction and foreclosure houses, this isn’t true. Buying a property you haven’t been able to walk through or have an inspection of is always challenging, even for experienced flippers (see almost every episode of Flip or Flop where an auction or “as is” foreclosure property is involved).

Do: Be honest with yourself about costs. “If you calculate a potential flip this way: Buy a house for $100,000, spend $20,000 on improvements, sell it for $150,000 and earn $30,000 profit, you clearly haven’t done all the math that’s needed,” said US News. “What about the cost of borrowed money and the cost of selling the house? What if the contractor discovers, once he starts the work, that half the plumbing lines are rotted? What about the cost of insurance, utilities and property taxes while you own the house? You must dig below the surface-level figures to paint a complete and accurate picture of the flipping opportunity. Only then can you determine whether it’s a sound financial move for you.”

Don’t: Get carried away with finishes. Not every house needs a commercial range and marble countertops. Refer back to: Know your neighborhood.

Do: Be smart about your home criteria. If you know a one-bedroom condo is hard to sell now, it’ll still be hard to sell after being renovated.

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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The Second Rule of Home Staging: Keep It Fresh

The overall goal of home staging is to make your home shine. After paring down to just the essentials, the next staging step is to give your home a light makeover to make it look – and feel – neat, fresh and pleasant.

Buyers don’t expect everything to be new, but they don’t want to be turned off by worn items or unpleasant odors. A good rule of thumb to go by: If it looks old, worn or dirty, then clean or replace it. A clean, fresh-smelling, attractive home tends to sell. Read on for some budget-friendly ways to refresh each room in your home.

Start With the Living Room

As one of the most frequently used rooms, the living room can get a worn, lived-in look pretty fast. Fortunately, it’s also one of the simplest rooms to improve.

First, give your living room a fresh coat of paint – and while you’re at it, paint every room in the home. In the living room, go for a color that is somewhat neutral, like a gray or a bone, that works with your pared-down decor.

Second, consider buying new throw pillows to jazz up that worn sofa. Go for a refreshing, trendy color or something with texture, such as a metallic linen, to bring subtle style to the room.

Next, turn a critical eye to your rug. If it looks dirty or faded, think about replacing it with an inexpensive and neutral jute or sisal rug. The simplicity and texture of these natural fibers always make a room feel cleaner and more serene. Jute and sisal are go-tos for most home stagers because they don’t cost a fortune and do hold up well under heavy foot traffic from an open house.

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Also, see if you can find a spot for a mirror, a classic trick for adding a light, bright element to any room. Although they may not scream personality, mirrors give a room an expansive, luminous quality that can appeal to a buyer.

Another rule that applies to almost every room is replacing any outdated light fixtures. Look to swap them with simple, neutral and stylish options that can handle high-wattage bulbs.

Finally, replace your knickknacks and accessories with a vase of fresh flowers. Use a medium or small vase so as not to distract from the rest of the room. Simple arrangements like a vase of white tulips or a cluster of peonies make a room fresh and lovely.

Move On to the Kitchen

Kitchens and bathrooms are crucial to the sale – specifically, the sale price – of a home. The more buyers feel they will need to spend on a kitchen renovation, the less they will want to offer for your house. That equation doesn’t mean that you should renovate your entire kitchen. You can make updates that cost far less than a total overhaul.

First, scrutinize your kitchen cabinets. Do they seem dirty or shabby? If so, instead of replacing them, consider the less expensive alternative of painting them. Whether you have them painted white, gray or navy, the new look can give your kitchen renewed life.

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Next, whether or not you repaint your cabinets, inspect their hardware. You may want to replace these pieces with more modern or on-trend alternatives. Polished chrome, industrial iron and brushed brass are just some of the stylish options available today. As in the other rooms of the house, give walls a fresh coat of paint and replace any dirty, broken or dated light fixtures with clean, updated versions.

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Freshen Up the Bathroom

As in the kitchen, you may want to replace any dated or worn fixtures in your bathroom — whether faucets or drawer pulls. Polished chrome is a good choice because it always looks sparkling and new. Brushed brass brings a trendy, elegant look.

Next, go shopping for fluffy white towels to put on your shiny new towel bar. Even if your existing towels are nice and white, purchase new ones for staging. Your towels, though probably lovely, are nonetheless used, and will continue to be used as your house is shown. Buyers don’t want to see anything personal.

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Also look to replace a chipped mirror or older medicine cabinet. A newer option will go a long way to giving your bathroom a fresh clean look.

Just as in the rest of the house, give any painted walls a fresh coat. If your bathroom cabinets are a bit shabby, consider painting those as well. A dark navy, for example, could look stellar next to the crisp whites of your towels and tub.

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Speaking of the tub and shower, instead of replacing the tub, go for the much more cost-efficient option of having it professionally reglazed. This is essentially repainting the tub, making it look and feel new. Similarly, have the tile regrouted or pressure-washed. Your bathtub and shower will shine.

Finally, place something in your bathroom that smells fresh. Whether it’s a new bar of soap, a vase of fresh flowers or a reed diffuser, use something that will have a lingering pleasant scent.

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Make Your Bedroom Oh So Calm

The bedroom is one of the most personal spaces in the house. But for selling, we don’t want it to feel so personal. An overall guide to staging your bedroom is to think of it as a stylish and serene hotel room that anyone would feel comfortable in. When your potential buyers walk into your bedroom, you don’t want them to think of you, smell anything personal about you or see your personal items left behind.

A good first step in depersonalizing your room is to replace your bedding with crisp white linens. If all white isn’t possible, look for neutrals that give the same effect. You want your bed to look inviting, fresh and comfortable. Opt for a decorative throw pillow to give a hint of color.

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If you have outdated furniture, just as in the kitchen and bathroom, try replacing the drawer pulls with something more modern and with simple lines. Similarly, if you have lampshades that are worn, yellowed or broken, replace them too.

When possible, hang a mirror above the bed or at some other focal point of the room, such as the wall facing the bed. This can help open up the room and reflect whatever natural light you have.

Follow the same steps in the bedroom as in the living room when it comes to the rug: If your bedroom rug looks worn or dated, replace it with sisal or jute. If your bedroom carpeting needs covering up, try placing a thin dhurrie or knit rug atop it. A rug pad can help these types of rugs stay put on top of carpet.

Finally, add a small vase of flowers to a bedside table. This little touch will contribute a pleasant detail to your hotel-like oasis.

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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Buying a Home Over the Holidays: The Smartest Real Estate Decision You Can Make

You know that play in football where the quarterback seems to hand the ball off to a running back and the entire defense concentrates on that “runner,” only to find that the ball ended up in the hands of someone on the other side, who then sprints down the sideline and scores a touchdown? That’s pretty much what it’s like to buy a home during the holidays. While everyone is busy looking at all the pretty, shiny things and on-sale things and yummy things, you’re sneaking around the other side with the ball, or, rather, the offer, that gets you the house you want.

Yes, when it comes to homebuying around the holidays, it’s advantage: buyer. With so many distractions between Halloween and New Year’s Day, you can slide right in there and make a smart move. So why, exactly, does it benefit you to buy a home over the holidays?

Because you just want to find a home already

The market has been hot for a few years, and, in many places, multiple offers and over-asking-price sales have become the norm. Competing in those markets can be demoralizing. Tales of buyers seeking million-dollar fixers on Los Angeles’ Westside just so they can get into something in the area – and being consistently outbid for more than a year – are more and more common.

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But by over the holidays and you slice through the buyer pool. While others are trimming their tree or searching for the perfect pumpkin cheesecake recipe, you’re off snagging the home you want.

Because: First-time buyers

The above scenario, where buyers are constantly being outbid on homes, is a nightmare for first-timers looking for a home. Not only is there a verrrrrry limited supply of available homes that are affordable in the first place, but the number of folks that are vying for them is tremendous. If you’re in the market and have never done this before, you’re probably pretty frustrated.

There are time-tested tips for winning in a multiple-offer situation, like getting preapproved, limiting contingencies on the home, being flexible about the closing, and writing a “love letter” to the seller, which can appeal “to the heart can make your offer stand out,” said NerdWallet.

But acting during a time when others may be distracted and not actively searching is perhaps the most effective method of getting what you want. “About one million consumers will purchase a home from November to January this year, when home prices are a bit softer,” said Forbes.

If that sounds like a big number, consider this: “More than 85 percent of buyers who say they plan to buy a home in the next year say they will wait until the spring or summer,” according to data from Realtor.com’s “Top Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2016” survey.

Because you might actually get a deal

No one likes to overpay, regardless of their price point. And multiple offers that drive up home prices are a drag for everyone (but the seller!). If you consider that those who are selling their home during the holidays are generally doing so because they have to, not because they want to, it makes sense that when you do find a house, it might be priced better than anything you’d find months later. In fact, according to The Balance, “Home prices typically drop to a 12-month low” in the month of December.

“Sellers tend to avoid the end of the year due to the short days, wintry weather and conventional wisdom that says buyers are otherwise occupied, Tim Deihl, associate broker at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, told Bankrate. “But those who do choose to sell at year-end are often under pressure and highly motivated to cut a deal. A seller who’s looking to move a piece of real estate during the holidays is a seller who needs to sell, because nobody in their right mind would pick that as the most convenient time to list their property. And that’s why the year-end might be a smart time to buy: Determined house-hunters can take advantage of sellers’ urgency.”

Because what better present could there be?!

You might want a new KitchenAid mixer or a flat screen or a weekend getaway. But do any of those things compare to a new home? The answer is no. No, they don’t. If you’re stumped at what to get your honey or your family, or what to ask for, here it is. And, if you time it right, you might even be able to get that home on Christmas Day.

“Almost nobody looks at homes on Christmas Day. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian nor whether you celebrate that holiday, there are much lower numbers of buyers shopping for a home in December,” said The

Balance. “But buying on or near Christmas Day is a smart move.”

In addition to all the other reasons the Christmas holiday season is so attractive for buyers, “People are in good moods, celebrating, opening presents, enjoying family and, let’s face it, some are a little tipsy,” they said. And, “People are more inclined to be generous, even if it means coming down on the price. Of course, the key is to find a real estate agent who will a) work on Christmas and b) be aggressive enough to worm her way into the seller’s home without batting an eyelash.”

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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Realty Times Article

10 Tips For Staying Sane While DIYing

The home renovation industry continues to grow every day, and growing in lockstep: the number of people who are doing it themselves, with, well, varying results. Launching into a difficult project with no experience or training can prove disastrous. So can undertaking a renovation without a strong foundation in place – and that applies to both the home you’re working on and your relationship.

Follow a few tips to help you DIY without leaving your body, your house, your marriage, or your finances DOA.

Make a plan – and stick to it

The research and planning you do beforehand will save you time and aggravation later on. Figure out your new floorplan, if there is one, and all the materials, details, and resources before you swing that hammer. The tighter your plan, the better your chances for achieving your desired result.

Take a broad view

Yes, experts insist that the secret to a successful remodel is planning, but “more specifically, a master plan,” said The Oklahoman. “Having a master plan doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to do a full house remodel this year. It just means you have an ultimate vision for your house – a clear goal as to how you want it to function now and in the future.”


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Choose – and order – your products early on

So, you fall in love with this floor tile that looks just like old barnwood, but you wait until the last minute to order it, and… it’s been discontinued. Uh oh. Selecting your products at the beginning of your project is important because it helps you develop the big picture, but make sure you get them ordered, too, or you might have to start over.

“Making product selections early can prevent delays later,” said Better Homes and Gardens. “Proper planning can also help keep you on budget.”

Create a realistic budget

Speaking of budget…

You may think you can fully renovate your entire kitchen and master bath for $5,000, but…nah. Unless you have some trick for getting products for free, you’re dreaming. Can you make some significant changes to your spaces without depleting your bank balances? Sure. But your budget has to match up with reality, or you’ll just end up frustrated and disappointed. And don’t forget to add in a contingency to your budget so when you have oopsies and overages, you don’t have to scramble to find extra cash.

Be realistic about the timeline, too

Do your research when it comes to figuring out how much time to set aside for your renovation projects. Then add some more. And, if you’re a super-novice, sprinkle some more on that. It’s better to err on the long side of a potential timeline; that way, if you’re making arrangements to be off work, to stay with friends, or to have someone watch your kids or dogs, you’ll be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Learn a little something

Resources are out there to help you become skilled at all kinds of stuff. Take that online class or head to Lowe’s for that workshop. The more you know, the easier it should go.

Bring in the pros for the tough stuff

Knocking down walls or getting into electrical or plumbing? it might be a good idea to bring in contractors to accomplish those tasks.

Communicate!

Renovating with a spouse or significant other? Be kind to each other and keep the communication flowing. Renovating is known to be one of the most stressful activities a couple can do together. You don’t want to end up with a beautiful kitchen but a broken marriage.


Redbook
Don’t sweat the small stuff

The success of your renovation, to a large degree, depends on your ability to roll with it when things don’t go your way. The stain color for the floor will be off. The bathroom tile will be backordered. The countertop will be delivered with a massive crack in it. Does that all qualify as “small stuff?” Maybe not, but keeping a good attitude – and keeping your eye on the prize – will help you make it through, even when it seems like your project is going off the rails.

“Sure, remodeling is exciting,” said Better Homes and Gardens. “But there’s also a lot of frustration as you encounter unexpected snags, delays, and the inevitable inconveniences that come from living in a construction zone. You’ll handle the lows better if you know they’re coming.”

Practice the art of compromise

Back to the stress of renovating and the effect it can have on your relationship…

Want to know why couples fight during the process? Taste issues, according to a survey on Houzz. “Why all the tension? It’s everyone’s style choices, dear. The survey found that one-third of respondents did not like their significant other’s taste,” they said. The answer: compromise. “Indeed, renovating is a crash course in compromise. But that’s one of the great things about it, because compromise often creates the best design.”

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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Realty Times Article

Smart Home Technology: 6 Gadgets that Will Increase Home Efficiency

For bolstered efficiency and enhanced convenience, it’s worth it to equip your home with the newest technology. There are practical smart home devices that will help you save on utility costs, ensure the safety of your home and assist in home maintenance. There are also more personalized gadgets that will help you monitor health, ensure your pet’s safety, and also provide multifaceted assistance in home management. Tailor your home with the right technology for you and your family. Here is a list of the best smart home gadgets you should invest in:

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat pays for itself with its energy efficiency programs, which yield significant savings on utility costs. The device learns the temperatures you like and will program itself in about a week with an automatic heating and cooling schedule. It also automatically turns itself down when no one is home, which saves energy. You can remotely control your Nest system from your phone, tablet or laptop. Nest will guide you toward the best temperature schedule that will save you both energy and money.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue bulbs help you control your house’s lighting via your smartphone. You can create light schedules for home automation so lights turn on when you arrive home or turn off once you’ve left. Doing this will help you reduce energy usage and also provide you with a means of remote theft deterrent. The away-from-home controls let you adjust your lights remotely. This is handy if you have forgotten to switch your lights off or if you need them on during a non-scheduled time. The Philips Hue kit is compatible with Apple HomeKit technology, which can be voice-accessed on the iPhone 6s Plus through Siri or manually through the app.

Withings Aura

The Withings Aura is a high-tech alarm clock disguised as a sleek, modern lamp. It offers a personalized, gradual wake-up experience that will help you feel refreshed and energized. The light on the Aura provides a simulated sunrise, at your designated alarm time, for a gradual wake up. At night, the light provides optimized colors that promote the secretion of sleep hormones while its attached speaker projects soft ambient sounds that will enhance your sleep.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a hands free speaker that you control with your voice. It can play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more. You can connect the Echo to your music libraries from Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn—the music will fill the room through the devices’ 360 degree omni-directional audio. Even while music is playing, the Echo can detect your voice for instruction. You can connect the Echo to your other smart home devices like the WeMo, Philips Hue, Nest, Wink, Samsung SmartThings, Insteon and ecobee.

Petcube

Keep track of your furry friend, while you’re out of the house, with Petcube. The cube contains a wide-angle lens video camera that provides HD live video so you can monitor your pet’s activity from your smartphone, tablet or computer. There is also two-way audio, which allows you to listen-in on your little friend and also chat with them through your smartphone. A built-in laser toy lets you interact with your pet so they get in some play time during the middle of your workday.

Belkin WeMo Switch

The WeMo Switch lets you remotely control the power source to your electronic devices.
The switch uses your Wi-Fi network for wireless control of your plugged-in devices, like your television, stereo, heaters, fans, kitchen appliances and more. Through the WeMo app you can turn the device on or off and set schedules for them. The WeMo Switch helps you conserve energy and ensure that your home is safe from any electrical mishaps.

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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11 Small Improvements That Can Give Your Kitchen the WOW Factor

Small improvements can make a huge impact when updating your kitchen. If your kitchen has solid bones, all you may need to do are a few changes. The 11 quick fixes below are a surefire way to achieve an upgraded look without extensive renovations!

GO AHEAD AND REPAINT YOUR CABINETS

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You’d be surprised at how much a fresh coat of paint can transform your cabinets into totally new-looking ones. This decorating trick is known to give kitchens a light and airy feel if the proper paint colours are selected. If you’re looking for a quick weekend project that can save you some cash, or if you’re saving up for a big kitchen renovation later, this is for you!

Find out which paint colours are best for your kitchen cabinets here.

CONSIDER A COUNTERTOP UPGRADE

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A dated countertop ages a kitchen. Good thing countertops can be easily upgraded! This quick kitchen fix is bound to give your kitchen a new life!

GO FOR NEW BACKSPLASH

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new backsplash might be all your kitchen needs to inject personality into it. A bit of sparkle, texture, or gloss in your backsplash can make your cabinets and counters stand out, giving your kitchen a whole new look and feel.

ADD CLASSY DETAILS

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Adding some well thought out details will bring out the beauty of your kitchen. New hardware can instantly give your cabinets a little pick-me-up. The same goes for lighting fixtures. You can either replace your existing lighting or go get one of those magnetized shades to add a surprising wow factor.

UPGRADE YOUR TAP FITTINGS

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If you still do not have a detachable spray hose, now is the time to install one. They’re not only pretty but can make washing up so much easier. Spouts with a flexible braided water supply hose are great!

EXPAND YOUR COUNTER’S AREA!

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This can be accomplished a number of ways. You can build a kitchen island if you don’t have one or introduce a new material as an added counter space to your existing ones. You can choose to add a new bar or perhaps a foldable surface that can double as preparation space or a small table.

YOU MAY NEED TO REFACE YOUR CABINETS

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This may sound a like a little more than a small improvement but replacing your doors and cabinet fronts can give your kitchen a welcome facelift without changing anything else.

CONSIDER OPEN SHELVING

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Open shelving gives you an opportunity to showcase your prized wine and plates collection. They are also great for keeping frequently used items accessible.

COZY IT UP

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Never underestimate the power of a nice rug or a beautiful runner. A nice plant or a vase of flowers goes a long way for warming up a kitchen.

SHOWCASE ONE ELEMENT

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If your kitchen has some design elements that you are not a fan of, consider showcasing your favourite area or appliance to make what you do not like less noticeable.

GO FOR A FLOATING KITCHEN ISLAND

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This kitchen improvement just takes hours! A ready-made freestanding piece can be bought at a home improvement and décor shop and be delivered to your home on the same day. Go for a kitchen island with extra storage and a top that matches your existing kitchen’s countertops.

Want to take this even further? You can replace the top of an existing freestanding piece. This way, you can opt for a new surface or even go for a larger one to expand your counter area at the same time!

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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4 Things You Should Be Doing With Your Home Equity

You may be sitting on a goldmine. Or a small fortune. Or at least a little chunk of cash. Rising home prices across the country means homeowners have some equity. So what can you do with it? More importantly, what should you do with it? If you’ve got money in your house, you’ve got some options.

“Done wisely, you can use the lower-interest debt secured by your house to pay off debts with high interest rates, like credit cards,” said houselogic. “It’s also a good choice if you know exactly how much you need to borrow for a big expenditure like a new kitchen.”

Historically low interest rates have ignited “a surge in demand for home equity loans this year,” said HOUSINGWIRE. James Chessen, chief economist for the American Bankers Association, told them: “The market for home equity loans and lines will likely continue to grow as a larger pool of qualified borrowers looks to take advantage of low rates to make property improvements or pay off higher-interest debt.”

1. Make smart updates to your home

Home improvement is “the No. 1 use” of home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), Kelly Kockos, senior vice president of home equity for Wells Fargo in San Francisco, told Bankrate.

Smart property improvements that raise the value of the home make sense for those who have a cushion. But, it’s important to keep in mind the increase in payments. Even if a kitchen remodel or an overhaul of the front-yard landscaping ends up raising the value of your home, you won’t recoup that money until you sell.


Decoist
Make sure you’re not “increasing overhead to the point that it’s not affordable or comfortable for you,” Justin Lopatin, vice president of mortgage lending for PERL Mortgage in Chicago, told Bankrate.

You’ll also want to focus on smart renovations that provide return on investment. An attic remodel may not pay off like updates to your bathrooms. A new front door gives your home a fresh look and helps with that all-important curb appeal, and is the one item that pays back the investment at a minimum of 100 percent year after year.

2. Put your kids through college

“A HELOC or home equity loan can be an attractive way to finance a child’s education because the interest rate might be lower and the maximum loan amount higher than some other types of education financing,” Andy Tilp, president of Trillium Valley Financial Planning in Sherwood, Oregon, told Bankrate.

Interest rates on home equity loans and lines of credit are “roughly comparable” to rates federal Stafford loans, according to HSH.com, “but far less than the 7.21 percent interest rate currently charged for federal PLUS loans made to parents.”


SCPR
HSH.com notes that as the economy has improved, the number of people using their home equity to pay for college has dropped. But “with the total annual cost of college hitting roughly $23,000 for the average four-year public school and about $46,000 for private schools, according to The College Board,” they said, it remains a reality some are going to have to face. Just be sure to check with a financial professional to make sure this new loan won’t put you in a financially risky position.

“I’ve seen parents struggle because they have to delay retirement, sometimes for many years, because of this huge debt. And if they lose their home, and with a bit of an ironic twist, they may be moving in with their new college grad,” Tilp told Bankrate.

3. Pay off those high-rate credit cards

Did you know that the average interest rate on credit cards is more than 15 percent?! If you have a $10,000 debt on a credit card at that interest rate and make the minimum payment, you’ll be paying it off for nearly 30 years, and it’ll cost you almost $12,000 in interest.

A HELOC with an interest rate around five percent that you use to get your card(s) paid off makes a lot of sense.


The Guardian
“HELOCs are often touted as a great vehicle for consolidating high-interest debt,” said nerdwallet. “Because HELOCs are secured by your home, their interest rates are significantly lower than credit cards. Additionally, rates on home loan products (including HELOCs) have been at historic lows since the Great Recession. This means that if you roll several cards onto one HELOC, you could save serious money on interest payments.”

The tax-deductible interest is also a huge advantage. “This could add up to savings when tax time rolls around.”

4. Leave it alone

If there’s one thing we learned from the downturn, it’s that reckless financial decisions related to your house can have dire consequences.

“The fact that you’re staking your home against your ability to pay off the debt is just the beginning of the potential drawbacks,” said HOUSELOGIC. “A home equity loan is a lien on your house that usually takes second place to the primary mortgage. As such, home equity lenders can be left with nothing if a house sells for less than what’s owed on the first mortgage. To recoup losses, second-mortgage lenders will sometimes refuse to sign off on short sales unless they’re paid all or part of what they’re owed.

Moreover, even though the lender loses its secured interest in the house should it go to foreclosure, in some states, it can send debt collectors after you for the balance, and report the loss to credit agencies. This black mark on your credit score can hurt your ability to borrow for years to come.”

Leaving your equity and letting it continue to grow while the home appreciates and/or you pay down the balance is the safest choice. But is it the one that works for you?

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

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