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How to Choose the Realtor Right for You

by Kecia Burkart


If you read our blog regularly you know that I am always saying hire the right Realtor and interview several before deciding.  A good Realtor and Mortgage Lender can make a REAL difference in your real estate experience. Here is a list of questions to help guide your selection process.

You should interview at least three agents before hiring and signing a buyer representation or listing contract. You can find agents through online research or ask for referrals from your friends and family.

When interviewing agents make sure to listen carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand the lingo

1. Are you a full-time agent?

A part-time agent puts you at a disadvantage in terms of your ability to compete with other buyers and sellers. It limits speed of action and knowledge of changing conditions.

2. How many purchase and sale transactions have you completed?

A minimum level of expertise is generally acquired after closing about 20-30 transactions of various types.

3. Are you a Listing Agent or a Buyers Agent or both?

Some real estate agents specialize with either Buyers or Sellers.  These agents likely have expertise in their area that real estate agents represent Buyers and Sellers may not.

4. If you are looking to sell your house? 

Ask what Marketing strategies the real estate agent would use to sell your home.  Also ask if they have any PAID online ad packages so you know your home is getting the most exposure as possible. 

5. Describe your negotiation strategies and describe how they might change based on circumstance.

Good agents will adjust their strategies based on the personality types involved in the transaction and the supply and demand of a property.

Winter Is Best Time to Sell, Study Shows

by National Association of Realtors

The housing market doesn’t hibernate in the winter. Sellers who list and buyers who buy often find the winter season the most advantageous time to make a move in real estate, according to a new study by the real estate brokerage Redfin. The winter season officially takes place between Dec. 21 and March 20, and real estate professionals should be ready for a season that often brings in more focused and active sellers and buyers.

In an update to a two-year analysis it completed last year, Redfin researchers studied nationwide home listings, sales prices, and time-on-market data from 2010 through October 2014.

The study found that February is “historically the best month to list, with an average of 66 percent of homes listed then selling within 90 days,” according to Redfin’s research.

Even in cold weather cities – such as Boston and Chicago – researchers found that home sellers were better off listing their homes in the winter than during other seasons.

The winter tends to net sellers’ more than their asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than listings from June through November. Listing during those four winter months has resulted in higher percentages of above-asking-price sales than listing during any months, other than April and May.

Redfin researchers found that in 2012 December listings were producing the highest percentage of above-asking sales for the entire year at 17 percent.

Researchers say the winter market is less competitive for sellers since many people tend to wait until the spring to list. The smaller inventory of active listings help sellers get more attention from buyers on their properties. Also, many large corporations often transfer employees or hire new ones early in the year, creating opportunities for winter sellers from very motivated purchasers.

Homes that are “priced right and show well can sell any time” of the year, says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin. Winter buyers tend to be “serious buyers... Most people are not window-shopping” in December and January, like they do in the spring months, Richardson adds.

Sellers shouldn’t worry about the holidays hampering their chances either. A 2011 study conducted by realtor.com® found that 60 percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because they believe it’s an opportune time to sell. Nearly 80 percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that more serious buyers emerge during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties makes it an ideal time to sell.

As for buyers, they may find winter a good time to make a move too. Sellers often are more flexible about negotiations over prices and terms than they would in the spring, real estate professionals say.

“People get more realistic at this time of year,” particularly if their homes hadn’t sold during the summer and fall, says Mary Bayat, a broker in Washington, D.C., and chairwoman-elect of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®.

Source: “Best Time to List a Home for Sale? Winter, Redfin Says,” Los Angeles Times (Dec. 14, 2014)

 

DIY Home Repairs

by Kecia Burkart

In the winter we tend to stay indoors more often and you start to look around and maybe you notice a few repairs that need to be made.  These may be small repairs that were overlooked in the warmer months when you spent your time at the pool, lake and enjoying the outdoors.

So here are a few things that I have noticed at my house and if they are at your house too this is how to fix them.  Simple repairs that a lady with a basic tool kit can accomplish so I am sure you can too. 

First of all walk through all of the rooms in your house and look at the little things that may need attention. Forget about the major renovations that is a subject for another blog post.  Make a list and head to the home improvement center or hardware store.

* Scratched Wood Cabinet or HW Floors - Hardware stores sell a number of scratch fillers that look like pencils or crayons. Find the shade that most closely matches your cabinet and rub it into the scratch. Or you can try a similar product that is more like a felt-tip pen and comes in different shades of ink.

* Loose Laminate Countertops - Buy an adhesive such as Liquid Nails and apply it beneath the laminate. Press the laminate down and put something heavy on top until it dries. Liquid Nails and similar products are available at hardware and home improvement stores.

 * Squeaky door hinges – One can of WD40 with the extension on the nozzle and that door no longer squeaks, it is quiet as a mouse.

* Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors. You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver.

* Drippy Faucet - First, turning off the water that flows to drip at valves under the sink. Once the handle is off, remove the chrome cylinder underneath, then remove the nut that holds the stem in place. Next just pull out the stem and replace the washer. New faucets have "seats" that serve the same purpose as a washer, but you need to buy one that's specifically for the brand and model of your faucet. So just take the faucet to a hardware or home improvement store if you need help identifying the model.


* Creaky floor boards. Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet and the talcum acts as a muffler to quiet boards that rub against each other.
 

* The burn out light bulb that is stuck.  Now what? First, unplug the fixture. Then, wearing leather work gloves and safety goggles, carefully twist the bulb until it loosens. Cover it with a rag for extra protection. If it shatters, remove the glass shards. Then unscrew the base of the bulb by firmly pressing a raw, unpeeled potato or a bar of soap into the socket and giving it a good twist. If the spud or soap slips, press it in harder and try again until the base breaks free.


 

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.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 114

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