Blog :: 09-2013

8 Reasons To Work With A Realtor

DSC_0167Your Realtor will serve as your advocate, teacher and, on occasion, your therapist during the home buying and selling process. Here are 8 reasons why it's important to have a trusted Realtor on your side.

1. They will navigate this complicated process for you. Buying or selling a home requires a multitude of paperwork, inspections, appraisals, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds and settlement papers. Realtors spend every day with these documents and know the process inside and out. As a trusted expert they will help you secure the best deal and avoid delays and costly mistakes.

2. They will inform you. A Realtor will be able to provide you with all of the community information you're looking for from market data to utilities, zoning and schools. They will also be able to give you honest, objective information on each property that interests you. They will be able to help you decide whether each home will provide the right environment you are looking for and which properties will have the best resale value down the road.

3. They will find  the best available property for your needs. Your Realtor will discuss your wants and needs and set off on a thorough search to find the homes that will provide everything you seek. Realtors also have the benefit of tracking down homes that may be on the market but are not actively advertised to ensure you have the widest selection to choose from.

4. They will negotiate for you. During the buying and selling process there are many times when strong negotiating skills are of the utmost importance from the home price, financing, terms, date of possession, inclusion or exclusion of repairs to furniture and appliances. Your agent will be comfortable and knowledgeable with each of these items and will go into every negotiation with your best interests in mind. As your advocate, they want the best for your and have the know-how to get it for you.

5. They will market your property strategically. Your agent will make your home look its best through photographs and advertising, but their marketing prowess does not stop there. Realtors have a huge database of professional contacts and past clients who are always interested in hot new listings. Your home is guaranteed to be in the spotlight more with the help of a Realtor than if you sold it yourself meaning a faster sale and better price.

6. They speak the language. If you don't know a CMA from a PUD, you will quickly understand why it's important to have a professional on your side. Your Realtor knows the business and all of the lingo that goes with it and will happily explain every step along the way. You will save yourself a lot of time, frustration and headaches by allowing a professional to take charge.

7. The have experience. Most people buy and sell a few homes in a lifetime, usually with a significant time span between each purchase. Even if you have done it alone before, laws and regulations change constantly making selling a home now a much different process than a decade or two ago. Realtors handle hundreds of transactions each year and are required to be up to date and knowledgeable on any changes to the system. Having an expert navigate the process for you is critical to your success.

Top 5 Tips for Moving with Pets

There is no doubt that moving can be stressful. The half packed rooms, mountains of boxes and exhaustion from carrying boxes is enough to make anyone a little on edge. Now imagine how your pets feel! Animals are very intuitive and sense your range of emotions-including stress.  Seeing you rush around to pack up your home will likely leave them in a state of confusion, anxiety and excitement. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your big move to keep everyone's stress levels in check.

1. Move Pets First If Possible: If you are able, board your animals, or ask a trusted friend to watch them, while you finish packing and transport your things to your new home. Removing your pet from the situation completely will save them a great deal of anxiety and allow you to be productive without worrying about their safety and well being.

2. Transport With Care: It isn't safe to let your pets ride loosely while your vehicle is filled (likely to maximum capacity) with boxes. Keep your animals crated while in the car for their own safety. Line the crate with their bed if possible, throw in a favorite toy and a treat or two to make them feel secure. Not only will they have their own safe haven but they will be protected if boxes happen to shift or tumble during the ride.

3. Be Cautious with Sedatives: Before deciding to sedate your pet before a move, make sure you consult your veterinarian. If your animal tends to experience extreme stress during times of change, or is uncomfortable during car rides, this may be beneficial. ALWAYS make sure to follow instructions thoroughly and with caution.

4. Prepare a Safe Space: When you arrive at your new home and begin to unload and unpack, be sure to keep windows and doors closed at all times to prevent anxious pets from escaping. The best thing you can do is set up a safe place for your pets (a spare bedroom is ideal) with their bed, toys, food and water. They will appreciate having a quiet space to themselves and will be safely tucked away while you set up. Once the front door is closed and unpacking has begun, let your pets explore the home with you. Be cautious for the first few days as they will be disoriented; cats are likely to hide somewhere they feel safe while dogs may bolt out the door if given the opportunity. Be patient and remember that they are confused. A little reassurance and positive attention will go a long way.

5. Take Time to Adjust: For the first week or two at your new home your routine will likely be different. Were your dogs allowed to run free at your old home but now need to be leashed? Prevent accidents and encourage plenty of outdoor time. Is your independent cat anxious to explore outside? Make sure you adjust slowly and deliberately to keep everyone safe and happy. Cats can be especially willful and likely to run off; keep your indoor/outdoor pet inside until they are comfortable before allowing them to transition into the outdoors. Remember that providing extra positive attention and support to your pets during a move is the best thing you can do for their well being.


Purchasing Appliances Made Simple!


If you've walked into an appliance store recently, you will know there are seemingly unlimited choices available. We have created a cheat sheet to help you decode the plethora of features, gimmicks and extras available.

1. Washers: Choosing an energy efficient washing machine will save you lots of money in the long run. Most energy efficient models today are front loading and use far less water than older, top loading styles. The money you save each month by conserving water could pay for your new machine within the year! Pay attention to spin speeds as well; the faster the machine spins, the more water is removed and the less drying time your clothes will need. Look for a model with the setting between 1100 and 1200 for optimal water removal.

2. Dryers: Whereas washing machines have a multitude of styles and options, dryers are basically made similarly. You can skip the bells and whistles of extra features, such as wrinkle prevention cycles. They do not dry your clothes any better than normal cycles. What you should look for is an automatic dry cycle which senses when your clothes are dry and keeps the machine from expending extra energy.

3. Range/Oven: Choosing a stove will first depend on whether your kitchen is set up for an electric or gas appliance. If you're in search of an electric stove, you will likely find an overwhelming amount of smooth surface tops. These are known to be easier to clean than traditional stoves, but be aware that special products may be needed. Look for an oven with a self-cleaning feature; they provide extra insulation, cook more efficiently and save you lots of elbow grease and cleaning time!

4. Dishwasher: New models are generally all going to be energy efficient. Look for a dishwasher with a light cycle and a heavy/scrub cycle, but do not be too concerned with extra features and cycles beyond those.  It will be important that the inside racks are nylon coated as they are far more durable than the vinyl options.

5. Refrigerator/Freezer: The biggest consideration when choosing a combination refrigerator/freezer is size. Buying a smaller model may save you money, but we warned that over filling your machine will make it malfunction. Choose a size that will be adequate for your family's needs now and in years to come.

6. Microwave: For general purposes, most any microwave will do so long as it is big enough for your needs. Most models are inexpensive and even the most basic ones come loaded with options. As long as you choose the correct size, you should be all set.


The 5 Factors That Decide Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a deciding factor used by lenders to determine your eligibility for loans.

Scores can range from 200 to 800 with 620 and above considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage.

The following 5 factors are the main determinants of your score:

1. Your Payment History. Paying bills on time and in full is very important. Late payments count against your score depending upon the amount of time left overdue. Filing for bankruptcy and liens on property will also negatively impact your score.

2. Your Debt. Owing large amounts of money on several accounts will indicate to lenders that you have overextended your financial capability. However, it's a positive thing if your balances are in good proportion to your total credit limits.

3. The Length Of Your Credit History. In general, the longer you have accounts opened, the better. On average, consumer's oldest obligations have been open for 14 years showing their ability to manage credit over long periods of time. Lenders will look at your payment history for consistency so they further they can go back, the better.

4. How Much New Credit You Have. New debt, either payment installments or credit cards are considered more risky by lenders, even if they are paid promptly. Lenders are more interested in your consistency over time than in the short run. They also consider taking on new debt a financial risk when also attempting to take on more loans.

5. The Types Of Credit Used.  In general, it is better to have diverse credit history meaning not all debt is tied to credit cards or to a mortgage. In other words, it's better to have your debt spread around than tied up in one chunk.

To find out how to improve your credit score, see: Settling the Score.