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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 111

Mistakes First Time Buyers Make

by Kecia Burkart


If you are a first-time home buyer, everything is exciting!  Searching hours online, touring homes, dreaming big and then you go to the bank for pre-approval.  You cannot believe the amount of money they are going to loan you (it could be a larger amount than you expect or quite a shocker of how less or even not at all). Helpful tip – Go get pre-approved first!

There are a multitude of decisions to make and numerous houses to see.  Before you start looking, make sure you’re not going to make a newbie first-time buyer mistakes.

1. Back to that tip I already mentioned – Get Pre-approved

If you haven’t been pre-approved, don’t go shopping. Go to your local bank, or a mortgage lender and talk to them about what your needs are.  They are likely to run your credit, take income information and various other information and presto they will let you know how much they will lend you.  Next comes the important part, how much is your monthly payment and can you afford the full amount they will lend you or should you pare down and look at lesser expensive houses.

2. Thinking You Can Do It By Yourself

All of that online research you have done I am sure that you feel that you are an expert but a Realtor is a valuable.  Choose a Realtor that is experienced and an expert in YOUR area that you are looking at.  The Realtor is paid by the Seller so you are getting all of their expertise and negotiation skills for FREE.  To me that is a no brainer.  Find the best Realtor you can.

3. The Perfect House

In many cases, your budget and your dream home do not align.  The best thing to do in this case is to shop the market.  There will be a home that has potential. A potential home should have good curb appeal – this means that the homeowners have taken the time to fix up their home and have most likely made the home move-in ready.  Maybe the dream home has a swimming pool and picket fence but if you do not have the budget get as much square footage you can with the features you can afford.  You can always add the pool or features you did not get later when you update the house.

4. The Home Inspection

You have done it!  You and your Realtor have found a house, the contract has been negotiated, you have your pre-approval letter from the Lender and the earnest money to put down.  Whew!  Next a very important step, even if your bank doesn’t require it, you should always have a home inspection contingency on your home purchase. Hiring a licensed and experienced home inspector who will thoroughly inspect your home is an important step on the home buying experience. Regardless of the age and condition of the home, first-time home buyers can benefit from the expert advice of a home inspector. Home inspectors spend several hours assessing a home and provide a lengthy, written report on their findings.

 

 

Tips for Selling Your Home over the Holidays

by Kecia Burkart


Well here is the good news!  If your home is on the market over the holidays you have a great chance to sell it if it is priced right.  Why?  Less competition! Many people will wait until after the holidays are over before putting their house on the market (usually after Super Bowl is over) because they do not want their holiday to be disrupted.

More good news!  Holiday Buyers mean business.  They are not your “looky loos” that are out looking for the fun of it.  Everyone has plenty to do during the holidays and that is not something an “iffy” Buyer wants to put on his or her to-do-list. Supply and demand take over the last quarter of the year.

So if you’re selling your home this holiday season, then there are some things you need to know about decorating. You will have potential buyers requesting showings. This means you need to consider more than just your personal style and taste when bringing out festive decorations. Houses show better when they’re decorated over the holidays but the question is what kind of decorations?

Before Listing

It is better to have professional photos done before you decorate.  This way your listing will not be dated when the holidays are over.  There is nothing worse than seeing a home decorated to the hilts after the holidays.  So talk to you Realtor and get those photos done before the decorations go up.

Less Can Be Better

A home that is covered in holiday décor can easily appear smaller and overwhelming to Buyers.  They often cannot see past the decorations to see the house you want them to buy.  Many Buyers have problems seeing past things such as large furniture in the regular buying season so you can see how tinsel and a plethora of holiday decorations can hurt your odds of selling. 

You want buyers to fall in love with your home, not the decorations. If you are going to put out pumpkins and fall wreathes, put away your everyday style pieces. If you have a tree for Christmas, pack up your end table or extra chair nearby. Getting rid of clutter, unnecessary furniture and keeping just a few simple decor pieces makes your home appear bigger and better.

Décor Should be Neutral & Natural

Natural holiday decorations are a great choice because they bring the outdoors in and are subtle yet sophisticated. For fall choose pumpkins, gourds, colored leaves and pinecones as accents. For winter decorate with fresh evergreen wreathes, berries, rosemary branches and lights.  And just think of how great that pine rosemary is going to make your house smell.

Holiday Music

Turn on some festive holiday music during your showing.  There is nothing like Bing Crosby singing White Christmas or Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song to get a Buyer in a good mood while viewing your home.

 

 

Steps to Get Ready to Buy a Home

by Kecia Burkart


Save, Save, Save

If there’s one thing you need to buy a home, it’s money.  Well, and the other is good credit but we will get to that in a minute.  Buying a home is expensive and to get prepared here are some steps to take.

- Make sure your have your emergency fund put back and not use it for a down payment.

- Speaking of down payment, depending upon the type of loan you are getting you will cash on hand.  Ask your Lender now what type of loan you qualify for and start saving up.

- And then there are closing costs and that could total up to 5% of the purchase price.

Secure Financing

Unless you have cash to purchase a home this is a very important step.  Ask friends and family if they know a mortgage lender that they would recommend.  Interview a few lenders to see how they will work with you. This person is going to be your new best friend for 4 – 6 weeks during the loan process so pick someone you gel with.  

Get your credit score pulled, have a mortgage professional review the information, and make sure there are no surprises.  If there are problems with your credit report your lender can tell you ways you can begin to repair your credit.  Better to know now then after you have found your dream home.

Ask the lender what types of documents they will need to secure the loan for you and start compiling the documents will help make the loan process less stressful.

 Always keep your banking statements in a safe place so you can easily access them.  Also, don’t forget any asset account statements such as 401K, stocks or bonds. Go ahead and pull out your W2s or 1099s because that is a must have.

Finally get that pre-approval letter.  You cannot put an offer in on a home without it.  If you do have cash your Realtor will want proof of funds (those banking statements).

Make a Wish List For Your New Home

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make in a lifetime more than likely.  So start now and make a list of what you want in a home.  Is there a special school zone?  How many bedrooms and bathrooms does your family need?  Listed below are some suggestions to help you make your wish list into a real home.

Location, location, location – Location will drive the price of the home in most cases.  So if you must live in a certain part of town or school district make sure you know what homes cost in the area so you can budget for it.

Make a list of features – Hardwood floors, granite countertops, big back yard, quiet street, master suite, bonus room…  Show your Realtor what you like online and that will assist them in being able to select a home for you.  While your Realtor is showing you homes make sure you share with them what you like and do not.  This will make your home shopping much easier.

Interview Buyer Agents

Like your Mortgage Broker your Realtor will be a valuable resource while you are search for a home and guiding you through the home inspection process. So choose someone with experience, has LOCAL knowledge of the area you wish to purchase a home in, works full time and has a communication style you are comfortable with.   A good Realtor can save you thousands of dollars in pricing negotiations and countless hours of paperwork. In most cases, the home seller pays your agent’s commission, so you get all that expert help for free!

 

Living In A Haunted House Guide

by Kecia Burkart!

It’s Halloween so I thought today I would give a little advice from some professionals if you happen to live in a haunted house. This blog is intended in the spirit of Halloween.

Don't Panic

Living in a haunted house can come with a wide range of issues, but many homeowners report similar experiences – cold spots in the house, items going missing, lights flickering, hearing unexplained  noises and even footsteps when there is no one there.  There could be a ghost or it could be totally something explainable.

Use Your Head

Do research to see who has lived in the house before or did any strange events occur there? The internet may not be the best resource here if you live in a small town.  Talk to locals that have lived in the town for a long time. Property records are also a good place to look to see if what the land was used for prior to the home being built.  Hopefully there was not a cemetery or old Indian Burying Ground where you home is located now.

Be Objective

Once you are spooked every little thing starts to be attributed to the haunted house.  A flickering light might be a light bulb getting ready to go out.  Strange moans in the house could be old plumbing.  If you keep your head on your shoulders (no pun intended) you might be more relaxed while living in your haunted house.  The stress that the family is under usually makes things worse.  So look for rationale reasons.

Hire a Paranormal Professional

If you think things are getting really out of hand call the Ghost Busters! There are paranormal professionals that can come to your home and interview you to see if there is true paranormal activity going on or if it is just a nearby train or aging furnace that is your culprit.  If you are spiritual you may want to ask your priest or minister to come to the house as well to speak with you.

Coexist – If that is an Option for You

If the paranormal professional confirms you are living in a house with a spirit (a friendly Casper the ghost type) then normally the ghost is just looking to move on. The ghost may be attached to the property in some way and want to remain there.  I have met numerous people who believe ghost live in their house and they are just fine with it.  So que sera, sera…

Consider Moving

If the ghost in your house is sinister it might be time to sell the home.  Some people move anyway because the ghost just creeps them out.  So use your best judgment and decide if it is time to move on and away from the haunted house.

Know the Law

If you decide to move do some research and find out it is your legal responsibility to disclose the ghost. In some states you must disclose that you know the house is haunted. In other states you only have to disclose the physical factors of the house.  Still it is best to do what your conscience tells you to do if you do not have to disclose. Talk to your real estate professional about what is necessary to disclose.  And remember once you tell your Realtor they must disclose if asked (check your state law for details).

Do Some Sprucing Up

If the home already has a reputation for being haunted it is going to be difficult to sell.  It is reported that haunted houses take 45% longer to sell than their counterparts without ghosts. The former owners that sold the Amityville Horror House remodeled the home and even changed the address. At the very least realize you are going to have to slash the price of the house and hope for the best.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

 

Source – Frontdoor.com

 

Features New Home Buyers Are Looking For

by Kecia Burkart

Ask a Realtor what buyers are looking for and they will tell you they prefer well-designed homes that are comfortable and energy efficient.  Mortgage rates have remained low and with a plethora of homes for sale means buyers expect more for their money.

What features are Buyers particularly looking for?  While every buyer is different; some want a brand new home which usually means open floor plan and neighborhood amenities.  While others prefer an older home and they are looking for what the house “can be” once they are through with renovations to make the house their home.  Here are a few universal features both are looking for.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors continue to be a must-have for home buyers. They add warmth and beauty to rooms and are relatively easy to maintain. They make small rooms look larger and large rooms look inviting. Changing the look of a room with a hardwood floor is as easy as changing the style of the area rug.  Good laminates are acceptable and ceramic tile in baths are a plus.  But, hardwood floors continue to be the king of flooring choices.

Garage

 A garage is a must-have.  Homeowner like being able to get into their cars without having to get wet on rainy days and the additional storage is important. The brutal Southern Summer the garage will keep your car protected it and looking newer longer.   And of course a garage is the ideal place to store lawnmowers, bikes and tools.  Three car garages are especially popular in this area due to the number of home owners who park their boat in the additional bay.

Fireplace

There’s nothing like a fireplace to make a house feel like a home. A matter of gas vs. work burning fireplaces doesn’t seem to matter much here in the South. Home buyers love the decorative appeal of a fireplace, and the glow of a fire is just divine.  While Southern winters aren’t harsh let one big ice storm come along and the power go out you will be glad you have one.   Plus, a fireplace can cut down on heating cost.

Spacious Walk-in Closets

Home buyers love large closets and consider it one of the most important features in a home. Closet space keeps clothing organized and also helps keep rooms clutter-free. In a home with smaller rooms, a walk-in closet can free up valuable space since it can store as much clothing as a large bureau or dresser.

Fenced Yards

Today homeowners expect backyards to be an extension of their indoor living spaces.  With the majority of the year in the South having pleasant weather we spend a lot of our time outdoors.  Homeowners are investing more in their outdoor living spaces with patios, pools, gardens, and outdoor kitchens. A fenced yard helps define the space that belongs to the house . And it’s a must-have for buyers with small children or dogs

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

by Kecia Burkart


Autumn is the perfect time to maintain your home and prepare for the chilly winter.  Doing small things now can make a big difference for you and your home (not to mention your gas or electric bill).   Easy tasks and taking care of your home will save money and if you feel the task is to large hire a professional to assist you. Some of these tasks could even save your life.

Seal out the Air Draft - Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  An easy and inexpensive fix is weather stripping.  This keeps the cold air out and warm air in. 

Inspect Your Roof – This is a job you may want to hire a professional to do.  Once you have a leaky roof it is very difficult to figure out where the leak is occurring.  And your home’s worst enemy is water so roof inspection is vital.

Clean out the Gutters – Gutters filled with leaves and debris can lead to clogged gutters and damaged exterior surfaces.

Protect Your Pipes – If you live where it freezes make sure to drain the line to outdoor spickets. If you don't have shut-off valves, you can purchase styrofoam faucet covers sold at most hardware stores or home centers.

Smoke & CO Detectors - Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the detector. Make sure there is a smoke detector on every floor of your home

Cover the Outdoor Furniture & Grill – Once the days of swimming is gone.  It is time cover the outdoor furniture and winterize the pool.  Save the grill for the very last, BBQ is great all year long.

Protect Your Family & Pets from Allergens - Clean or replace dirty furnace filter and give you home a fresh healthy start.  This will also help your heat pump or furnace run more efficiently.

Check Your Fireplace – During the warmer months problems could occur so especially if you have a wood burning fireplace have your chimney expected.  This could save your family’s lives and your home.

Change The Direction of Your Ceiling Fans – Push that warm air that rises back down to you.  While you are at it dust the blades.

 

 

How to Decorate Your Front Porch

by Kecia Burkart

If you are lucky enough to have a front porch on your home, you should make the most of it and decorate it.  Your front porch is an extension of your home and the first thing visitors see, so it should look as good as the inside of your home.  Here are a few ideas, tips, and tricks for decorating a front porch.

Lighting

Not everyone visits your home during the day, so your front porch needs to be lit properly.  Not only should there be plenty of light on the front porch, but also on the walkway.

Welcome Mat

A welcome mat should be used on a front porch to minimize the dirt coming into your home and as decoration.  Make sure to get a welcome mat that compliments your interior decor.

Furniture

If your front porch is large enough, add seating.  A porch swing is an iconic fixture on front porches, so it would be very charming to have one on your front porch.  Wicker chairs or a rocking chair is also traditionally expected.  You do not have to go the traditional route - you can add more modern furniture.  A small table to set a glass of iced tea is also nice as well as a plant stand and/or an ottoman to put your feet up.

Plants

Want to make your front porch come alive?  Add plants.  Consider adding ferns, greenery, and colorful flowering plants in the ground around your front porch and in annuals in the planters on your front porch.

Seasonal Items

Many people like to decorate their front porch with seasonal items.  For Autumn set out pumpkins and a mum on the steps to your front porch. For the holidays, lights are amazing.  During the winter months have pansies or snap dragons to give your porch life in the dead of winter.

 

Why All of Paperwork When Getting a Mortgage?

by Terri's Team

We are often asked why there is so much paperwork required by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form. Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more burdensome on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage. During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business. Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation. The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate probably below 5%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of <5%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

 

Source – Keeping Current Matters

Take some time one night and come to Downtown Anderson in South Carolina and see what all it has to offer.  There plenty of fantastic restaurants and this week we will spotlight Summa Joe’s Searing Pans and Homemade Pizza.  Summa Joe’s offers sidewalk dining, as well, as indoor tables and booths.  It is a very popular lunch spot, and the dinner crowd is bustling.

At Summa Joe's, they bring a taste of the Upstate right to your plate. Exquisite local ingredients from area farms and local markets are used to create fresh and unique cuisine.

There is a large variety of specialties to choose from – a vast array of pizza, fresh and crisp salads, seafood, pasta and much more.

The food is prepared fresh daily a freshness you can taste!  They roast their lunch meats, hand prepare all of our pizza dough, and make each of our sauces from scratch every single day. 

SummaJoe's is a place where you can always come and relax with friends and celebrate with family. The wine selection is eclectic and they even offer an ongoing assortment of local entertainment, from live music to stand-up comedy. 

Come out to Downtown Anderson and enjoy a walk around our fine city and good food at Summa Joe’s.

 

How to Keep Your Hardwood Floors Like New

by Kecia Burkart

Hardwood Floors: Preventive Maintenance

Cut hardwood-floor cleaning time with smart preventive maintenance. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water.

Prevent marks by using floor protectors under furniture and by using rugs in play areas to ensure children don't scratch the floor.

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at stores.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren't completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor's finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish -- common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes. If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.

Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.

Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don't work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you're done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.

Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

 

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 111

Contact Information

Terri's Team
Keller Williams Realty - Western Upstate
4107 Liberty Highway
Anderson SC 29621
864-314-0573
Fax: 864-226-9238

Terri’s Team is licensed in SC & GA and located in SC