Is This Your Situation: Looking for the Right Destination to Enjoy Your Retirement Years?

It’s tempting to go where most retirees decide to live out their golden years, but that may be the wrong decision for you. Of course, there are good reasons why places like Florida, North Carolina and Arizona are popular locations, but there are other factors to consider besides weather:

#1:  Nearby Care Facilities

It may be years away from now but when choosing a retirement home, you should think about finding one near high-quality care facilities. You are likely going to live in that home until you can’t live on your own any longer. If your health starts to fail or if you already have medical conditions, finding a place with nearby care facilities may be a higher priority than climate for you. 

#2: Amenities

Amenities make living the retirement lifestyle that much simpler. It is why so many retirees choose to purchase homes and condos in 55+ communities rather than investing in a new single family home. With a retirement home in one of those communities you could enjoy:

  • On-Site Activities
  • Entertainment
  • Fitness Centers
  • Swimming Pools
  • Tennis Courts
  • Party Gazebos
  • And More

#3: Proximity to Family

If something bad happens and you live thousands of miles away from your kids and grand kids who will be there to help you? Think about finding a home that is close enough to a nearby relative so that you have an emergency contact within an hour or so from your retirement home.

#4: Lifestyle

When choosing your retirement home, think about the type of lifestyle that it affords. Maybe you have always dreamed of living on a ranch out in Montana. But how will the lifestyle suit you? Will a ranch be too hard to maintain as you age? Will seclusion eventually wear on you? Spend time in your prospective retirement community to get a feel for the lifestyle to see if you would actually enjoy it long term.

#5: Affordability

Finally, affordability dictates most things. You can find really good bargains on real estate no matter what part of the country you choose to retire to. However, in more pricy markets, will your mortgage gobble up all of your incidental income?

Factor in your monthly expenses before settling on a house. You want nice but not so expensive that you will find yourself struggling to pay your bills once you get there.

These are just some of the factors that go into deciding which retirement home is best for you and your situation. Just remember, weather is not everything. For more information, feel free to contact me now.

5 Ways to Prepare to Buy or Sell Later

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Summer is usually the perfect time to buy or sell a home. And for some people, it still is. After all, there are few things more welcoming than warm weather and fresh flowers blooming in the front yard.

But maybe you’re waiting to enter the market. That’s okay too. There are plenty of ways you can use this time to your advantage.

If you’re considering buying or selling later this year or next, here are five things you can do in the meantime.

Get your finances in order. Take stock of your accounts, assets and debts, and pull your free credit report. Make sure you’re in good standing to qualify for a loan and make a down payment.

Watch the market. Keep an eye on local home sales where you’re considering buying. This can give you an idea of what you might spend on a home — or how you should price yours when you list it.

Save up for moving expenses. Moving isn’t cheap — especially if you’re going a far distance. Start saving for your movers, trucks, packing supplies and more.

Talk to a mortgage lender. Start zeroing in on which lender you might want to go with, and make sure you understand the requirements you’ll need to meet to get a loan. You may also want to get preapproved before beginning your home search.

Prioritize your needs. If spending more time at home has made you reconsider your living space, take the time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a new home. Then we can discuss your options together. 

For more ways to prepare for buying or selling a home, get in touch today.

Essentials to Keep in Your Emergency Kit

Let’s face it: You can’t predict the future. That’s why having a fully stocked emergency kit is so important. No matter the time of year, it’s always better to play it safe.  

Would you and your family be prepared, just in case?  Putting essential supplies together doesn’t have to be a chore and can even be done fairly quickly. You just need a list and a plan.

Need ideas? See below for useful items in any situation. 

  • Communication: Stay connected even if you lose power. Try a hand-crank or battery-powered radio — preferably one with charging ability to keep your devices running. 
  • Lighting: A flashlight and batteries are a must. Get a few different types, like lanterns, floodlights and key chains. You never know how much light you’ll need or where you’ll need to take it. You can also stash a few candles and some matches.
  • Food and Water: Pack at least three days’ worth of water, nonperishable foods and canned goods — and don’t forget the can opener. Think beans, nuts and seeds, protein bars and dried fruit.  
  • First-Aid Supplies: You’ll want a first-aid kit, complete with bandages, gauze, burn cream, antiseptic, sterile gloves, safety pins and more. Pain relievers and an extra supply of prescription medications are important, too.
  • Clothing and Bedding: Every family member will need a few changes of clothes and portable bedding like sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.
  • Miscellaneous Items: Cash, personal documents and paper maps might not seem essential now, but they could come in handy. Other nice-to-have items include duct tape, cleaning products and a multi tool.

There’s no telling what the future may bring, so it’s important to be prepared for anything. Get in touch today for more home safety tips.

Is the highest bid the best bid?

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An offer on your home moves you one step closer to the finish line in the selling process. And if you’re lucky, you’ll receive multiple offers from a range of bidders. 

The highest bid is the obvious choice, right? Not necessarily. Here’s what to consider before moving forward on an offer:

Focus on your priorities. Take this step early, before any offers roll in. Make a list of what’s most important to you in the sale of your home, like a tight moving deadline or your financial needs. Are there any requests that would make an offer a deal breaker for you? 

Review the contingencies. Now that you’ve established your top priorities, determine your bidders’ conditions for the sale. Common contingencies for potential buyers include a property appraisal and a home inspection. 

Compare earnest money amounts. People who are interested in purchasing your home need to show you that their offer is made in good faith. An earnest money deposit proves the buyer is serious about the transaction. The more money they put into the deposit, the more likely they are to be able to back it up with financing.

Be aware of unusual requests. A bidder could ask you to make unnecessary repairs or leave all your appliances in the home for them. Their offer might be high, but if something unusual interferes with your top priorities, it might be best to move on to another option. Together, we’ll carefully read over their requests and discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Are you ready to get a great offer on your home? Get in touch today.

Tips for Choosing the Right Neighborhood

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Finding a home that suits you is only part of the journey. Another big part? Choosing the right neighborhood.

The number of bedrooms and square footage are certainly important when buying a home — but the community might be even more vital. 

After all, it’s where you’ll likely exercise and socialize, where your kids will grow up and go to school and, ultimately, where you’ll put down roots and build a life.

Are you ready to look for a new home? Here’s how you can find the right neighborhood:

  • Know your needs. If walk ability is high on your list, make sure the neighborhood offers plenty of paths to explore. Is your commute to work a big factor? How long will it be? What are your thoughts on homeowners associations?
  • Do some research. Take some time to look into the community. Check out school district ratings and look at nearby listings to see home values. Reach out to learn what else the community offers.
  • Check out online groups. Pull up any neighborhood groups you can find on social media. Does the online community seem friendly? You can also search for a neighborhood newsletter or local events.
  • Take a self-guided tour. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of day to get a feel for its character. Can you see yourself living there? If you’re buying from out of town, you can hop on Google Maps and take a virtual walk. 

And if you’re ready to take an online tour or see a home in person, get in touch today. Together we’ll find the right home and neighborhood for you.

Posted in Events Life Listings Real Estate by Being BOB. No Comments

What to Know About Replacing Kitchen Appliances Before Selling Your House

should you replace appliances before selling your home

While selling a house can pad out your pocketbook, depending on how much equity you have invested in the home, it’s an unfortunate truth that it can also cost you money in the short term to make the sale. Items like home renovations and staging may need to be paid for upfront before you’ve even received an offer from a buyer. 

Savvy home sellers will consult their real estate agent before making any big changes to their home. Why? Because not all home renovation investments are worth it! In fact, in some cases, you may lose money! 

Replacing appliances may not be a full-on renovation, but it’s still a major expense and should be considered carefully before proceeding. After all, if you purchase appliances and they don’t add to your home’s ultimate sale price, then what’s the point?

How to Decide Whether the Appliances Stay or Go

The first decision you’ll need to make is whether or not to leave the appliances when you move. If you know you’ll need appliances in your new home, you may be tempted to take them – which can be a viable option, but you’ll want to make sure your real estate agent knows so they can update your listing accordingly. 

The second factor to consider when determining if you’ll take the appliances is who your potential buyers are. Large homes in great school districts may attract lots of families. If you think that’s the case, you may consider leaving the appliances. Families will likely attach value to having a home that’s fully move-in ready and won’t require a major expenditure upfront. 

However, if you think your home is more appealing to young couples and professionals, appliances may not be at the top of their wish list – in which case, you might consider taking them and not replacing them at all. 

Finally, you should think about the overall look of your kitchen. If the current appliances are dated, but so is the rest of the kitchen, a potential buyer may opt to remodel the entire space – in which case, removing the appliances may actually represent an expense for the buyer. 

You should always check with your real estate agent before making a major decision such as whether to take your current home’s appliances. They’ll be able to guide you toward a choice that makes the most sense for you, while also helping you get the most money for your home.

Tips for Replacing Appliances

If you do decide to replace appliances, you’ll want to follow a few guidelines to make a smart purchase that adds value to your home. 

Match the Appliances to Your Home

If the rest of your kitchen is finished luxuriously, make sure the appliances are just as high-end! Likewise, overly luxurious appliances in an otherwise dated kitchen may simply call attention to the fact that the kitchen hasn’t been renovated since the early 1960s. Matching the quality level of the appliances to the quality level of the kitchen is critical.

Purchase a Set

In general, you’ll want to ensure that any appliances that are staying (stove, refrigerator, built-in microwave, dishwasher, etc) form a matching set. If you can’t or don’t want to purchase a matching set, consider the quality level and styling of the appliances. A white refrigerator in a kitchen otherwise outfitted with stainless steel will stand out. 

Value-Add Appliances

You want to choose appliances that add to your home’s overall value. In some cases (for example, if the existing appliances are very old or non-functional), simply replacing your appliances with clean, working, energy-efficient versions will be enough. However, if your home is in a higher-end market, chef’s quality appliances may be required to add value. 

Selling Your Home – With or Without New Appliances

While the appliances in your home’s kitchen can definitely have an impact on whether or not your house sells (and for how much), the real determining factor in selling a home is working with a great real estate agent! An agent who’s a neighborhood expert will be able to tell you more about the types of buyers you might attract, the quality and condition of other kitchens in comparable homes, and so much more. 

Before you start thinking about updating your home for sale, we recommend talking to a Howard Hanna real estate agent. We’re local experts who value deep neighborhood knowledge. Get started – find a real estate agent near you today.

How A Home Inspection Helps Buyers Evaluate A House

You’ve found the home of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer on it – congratulations! After celebrating the moment, it’s important to prepare for the work needed to complete the purchase. This includes completing any inspections on your possible future home.

A basic home inspection provides a general overview of the condition of a house, especially its key components such as household appliances and systems. This basic inspection of a house might reveal red flags. In these cases, you’ll want to schedule additional tests and get a deeper look into a house before making a final offer on it.

To ensure that an inspection is thorough and helpful, you will want to work with your real estate agent as you determine what needs to be evaluated. Then, as needed, you can follow up on these potential results:

Furnace Inspections and Repairs

During a standard home inspection, an inspector will review the overall condition of the boiler or furnace. They will also review any previous service tags, which reflect the history of maintenance conducted over time. In many cases, a furnace will just need a good cleaning and a simple tune-up as part of a sale. However, if an inspector discovers defects such as cracks or heating issues due to system deficiencies, they will typically recommend a specialist come to conduct a more in-depth analysis. If this recommendation is made, follow up on it to protect yourself from a potential system failure later on.

HVAC System Inspections and Repairs

One thing you always want in great condition is a home’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC). During a standard home inspection, the inspector will review this system to ensure it is in working order. They will then report any signs that the equipment is not performing at its peak efficiency. As with all other parts of a home inspection, any recommendations for repairs should be considered as you and your agent negotiate your final offer on a house.

Water Heater Inspections and Repairs

When a water heater malfunctions, the results can become dangerous. Home inspectors aim to avoid this by checking a water heater for problems such as valve installation issues, clogged discharge lines, and corrosion and rust. Depending on the condition of a water heater, as well as its age, the inspector will make recommendations for any necessary next steps, which could range from simple repairs to a full replacement. Be sure to bring these recommendations to your real estate agent! That way, they can be discussed as you continue to negotiate on your offer to buy the house.

Home Appliance Inspections and Repairs

A malfunctioning appliance, like a water heater, can contribute to damage or dangerous situations in a house. That said, only some appliances are covered during a home inspection! Specifically, “built-in” appliances that are permanently attached to the home will be examined.

While things such as microwaves and refrigerators are not typically covered, you can expect an inspector to review a house’s wall ovens, ranges, surface cooktop appliances, built-in microwave ovens, dishwashers, and food waste disposals. An inspector will also provide specific recommendations as needed for each individual appliance.

Electrical Safety Inspections and Repairs

While electrical safety is a bigger concern in older homes, electrical issues can develop in any house at any time. Ensuring that all electrical systems are properly grounded to prevent fire, shock, and damage to appliances is an essential part of every home inspection. Inspectors will also take a look at circuit breakers, wiring, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and outlets to make sure they’re working and aren’t potential fire hazards. Any next steps recommended to address electrical issues will be specific to each inspection. Whatever recommendations you receive, take them seriously and review them with your agent.

Structural Inspections and Repairs

The structural health of a house is what will help that house continue to stand – quite literally! That’s why inspectors will take the time to review structural components for obvious signs of damage. From cracking in the foundation to rot damage in the walls and deterioration in the floors, there are many ways an inspector can determine if any structural damage exists. If it does, you’ll want to review that information with your agent, as well as review it at the negotiating table.

Roof Inspections and Repairs

The roof of a house is exposed to the elements every single day, so it’s not uncommon for a roof inspection to reveal some degree of wear and tear. However, minor issues can become big issues that lead to damage inside a house. Finding out exactly what damage exists is important so that it can be repaired in a timely manner. Home inspectors will also often check to ensure that the roof structure is able to handle the stress associated with snow and other natural occurrences.

As a home buyer, your priority is to find out from your inspection whether or not a full roof repair will be necessary in the near future. If the answer is yes, you and your agent will need to discuss the issue and how it could affect the amount of your offer as you negotiate the final details surrounding the purchase of the house.

What To Do With All Those Recommendations

A home inspection is a big deal. That said, it’s OK if a house that you love doesn’t score 100% on a home inspection checklist! Instead, aim to have an experienced home inspector provide detailed and accurate information about the property you are planning to purchase. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing, and can plan for your future more confidently.

Don’t forget that you can also bring all of your home inspection questions to your real estate agent! Agents are trained to help you with every part of the buying process, and will not only help you evaluate the house you want to buy, but will help you use the information from its inspection to negotiate your way to the best deal possible. Agents can also help you purchase additional protection plans for your house, including insurance and home warranties – allowing you to fully prepare for the big move into your new home.

No matter where you are in your buyer’s journey, it’s never too late to begin working with an agent. Contact us today if you’re looking for assistance finding the perfect home!