2 Questions to Ask Yourself When House Hunting

brick-home-290315_1280Buying home is a big decision and before you enter into home ownership, take some time to do your due diligence. As you research what areas you want to live in, get pre-approved, and start the search for your dream home, here are 2 questions to ask yourself.

  1. Why are you purchasing a home? Harvard University conducted a study about why people buy a home. In the study, they found there are 4 major reasons why people enter into homeownership: 1) good place to raise children, 2) place to feel safe, 3) more space for them and their family, 4) control of the space (place to call their own).  While you move forward in finding the right home for you, these questions will help you decide which home is best for you and meets all your needs.
  1. Where are home values headed? According to a recent survey conducted by a group of real estate experts, economists, and investment and market strategists, they predict the home market values will appreciate up to 18.1% in 2019. If you’re renting, rental prices will increase too. So, why not use that money towards a mortgage or your own instead of your landlord’s mortgage?

As you move forward towards home ownership, what it comes to, in the end, if finding a place where you and your family can make a home. Write a list of features that are important to you and you’re not willing to compromise on. In another column, write down what features you’d like but are willing to compromise on. This will help you as you search for your home.

Reconnect With Summer With These Films

Now that the snow is on the ground, officially declaring it winter, now is the time to burrow in and dream of those warm summer nights. Grab some popcorn, a blanket, and enjoy these magical movies to reconnect with your childhood. popcorn-707364_640

  1. Now and Then. This is a fun throwback movie to 4 preteen friends and the summer where childhood innocence fades and true friendships are strengthened.
  1. The Sandlot. A classic and favorite of many, enjoy a fun night of baseball, scary stories, sleepovers, and doing whatever it takes to get your crush to finally notice you.
  1. The Parent Trap. Lindsay Lohan is perfect in the remake of the classic 1960s film as twins discovered each other for the first time in years and plot to reconnect their parents. There are so many laughs and mischief in this film, the whole family is sure to enjoy it.
  1. Ernest Goes to Camp. Enjoy a night of zaniness with this far-fetched movie about juvenile criminals going to Summer camp. With crazy adventures, this is a great movie to watch to remind you of summer.
  1. Little Giants. Remember your first crush? This is for all the tomboys out there who’ve fallen in love and try to catch their crush’s attention.

What is your favorite summer, childhood movie? Tell us below or on Facebook.

3 Ways To Save Money This Christmas Season

I love this time of year. The Christmas lights, the snow, and the festivities that bring everyone into the magic of the season. However, even with all the beauty around, it is easy to get wrapped up in the stress of the season too. This year, take time to enjoy the season a little more (and avoid the financial stress) with 3 tips.a-christmas-gift

Before you begin your holiday shopping, take some time to make a plan and go in prepared. Make a list of how much you want to spend (the total amount) and how much you want to spend on each person from your list. If you have a budget and plan, you’re less likely to overspend.

Look over your list, once it’s written, and see where you can trim. The holiday’s can be extra stressful if you feel overwhelmed by who you need to buy for. Are there some people you can cut from your list? By trimming your list, the less stress you’ll feel both mentally and financially.

Also, be creative in your gift giving. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, why not send someone a card with a heartfelt note? Connections are important and in this day and age when people are constantly plugged in, why not take some to write some you care about hand written note to let them know how you feel. Another idea is to buy simple gifts, such as chocolate candies or pistachios—there are some really cute bags you can get from the dollar store to put them in.

What other ways can you save money this holiday season? There are so many ways to save money and enjoy the holidays.

Do You Really Need An Agent?

tie-690084_640Have you been considering hiring a real estate agent, but aren’t sure if that is the right move? If you’ve been hesitant to hire an agent, here are a few things to know about what an agent can do for you.

With the ever changing housing market, an agent can help you keep up with market changes, negotiations, and paperwork. An agent can also help you navigate through the home buying and selling process.

Curb appeal is important when trying to sell your home and your agent can assist you in staging your home and making it inviting to potential buyers. Agents can help you improve the stage appeal, lightening, and can recommend some professionals for any repairs that need to be made.

Real estate agents are required by law to be licensed (passing a state exam) and must take mandatory classes to stay up on current market trends. In addition, an experienced agent has a lot of inside knowledge, connections, and resources to help you find your dream home.

Ready to buy or sell? Or just have some questions? Give us a call today and let us help you find your next home.

Stay Safe This Halloween With These 9 Tips

Halloween is only a few weeks away and with the kids choosing their costumes, happy jack-o-lanterns, and spooky witches it is no surprise that this is a great time of year. As we get closer to the night of trick-or-treating, here are some tips to stay safe. zombie-949915_640

  1. Keep a lookout. Stay on sidewalks, driveways, and paths, avoiding the road where cars might not see you. Also, always remember to cross the street at a corner or crosswalk to ensure drivers don’t hit you.
  1. Carry your phone. Alright, in this time and day, who doesn’t have their cell with them, but take extra care to have it with you while you’re out trick-or-treating. If there is an emergency, you’ll be glad you have your phone.
  1. Visibility is key. Put a light or reflective tape on your children’s costume to make sure they are easily seen by drivers. Also have them carry a flashlight or glow stick to keep them safe and provide them with some extra light when walking up to doors.
  1. Dinner first. Although the excitement of the day can get kids eager to get out there and get candy, feed them dinner first so they don’t start munching down on the candy before they get home. Once home, don’t forget to take time to check the candy to make sure it is safe.
  1. Keep your pets safe. Bringing the family dog along might be fun but make sure they are on a leash and have a collar with ID. With all the excitement and craziness of the night it is easy for pets to wander off.
  1. Go slowly in neighborhoods. If you decide to drive, be sure to drive slowly through neighborhoods and stay alert. You never know when a little ghoul will jump out in front of you.
  1. Set ground rules. If your child is old enough to go trick-or-treating alone, agree on a route and make sure it goes through familiar neighborhoods. Also, if possible, have them carry a cell phone with them in case something happens and they need to get a hold of you immediately.
  1. Talk about strangers. Before you head out, remind your kids about the importance of never getting into a stranger’s car. Tell them to scream and run if someone stops them or offers them candy and tell an adult they trust.
  1. Have fun. Remember, it’s Halloween! Don’t get too stressed out and have some fun out there. This is a favorite holiday for both kids and adults alike, so bring out your inner child and enjoy.

Utilize Your Storage Space

There are a lot of pros and cons to living in a smaller space. Each space provides its own challenges, but the key is to learn how to utilize the area effectively; which means, sometimes you have to get creative.window-839824_640

Build storage in your home by making every space work for you. Incorporate adjustable wall mounts in the laundry room, include a bookshelf or storage chest. You can also add storage under your bed, rolling drawers, or find furniture for dual purposes. With larger items, use them in your decor by hanging them on the wall when not using.

Through utilizing your storage and organization, you can live comfortably in your small space. Find ways to upcycle, recycle, and donate the items you no longer want.

The Adventures in Geocaching

I recently had the experience of geocaching and if you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time to. Geocaching is a lot of fun for everyone where you go on a scavenger hunt area your town and search for items hidden.small animal canyon

How do you start? First, create an account and log in. Once you are in, pick a cache you would like to search for and enter the coordinates into your phone. Here are 5 top apps to check out to help you on your hunt.

Caches come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of difficulty. So, grab your family and friends and go on your next adventure. Tell us what you think on Facebook.

4 Things to Know Before Buying a Rental Home

SmallHomebenchAre you interested in investing in real estate and buying your first rental home? Although a rental home can be a great investment, it shouldn’t be an “all-in” thing, though it could be. Before making the decision of jumping all the way in, here are 4 things to consider:

  1. Stay close to home. This topic has been debated, but managing a rental property in another zip code might not be in your best interest (at least, not when starting out). Invest in a property in your city where you can drive by the rental a couple of times each month to ensure there are no major repairs or issues that need to be addressed. If there are, you can address them before they become too huge.
  1. Know ALL the costs. Forget about the buying costs and even setting rents, but the other costs involved in a rental property investment, fixed and variable. Property taxes can change, unexpected repair costs and advertising for new tenants are all costs that might surprise you. Also, if you lose a tenant and can’t fill the home again for a few months, do you have enough money set aside to cover your expenses.
  1. This is a competitive business. Since 2007, real estate investing has boomed and credited investors have helped markets and prices to stabilize by buying in quantity. Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about real estate.
  1. Don’t expect to “get rich quick,” but steadily. There can be tax advantages with a rental property so it is important you meet with an accountant to help you know which deductions you qualify for.

Before You Make An Offer, Ask These Questions

tulips-408726_640Sometimes during the excitement of buying a new home, getting pre-approved, and hiring an agent; some things get overlooked. Regardless of how thorough you are, sometimes things need to be viewed in a new perspective.

While viewing homes, your agent can help you with some questions to ask, but here are some get you started:

  1. Why is the house for sale?
  2. How old is the roof?
  3. When was the roof last replaced?
  4. Have you had any problems with roaches, termites, or any other pests?
  5. What are the monthly utilities bill costs?
  6. Has the sewer ever backed up? Any plumbing problems?
  7. How much installation is in the attic?
  8. How old is the water heater?
  9. When was the water heater last replaced?
  10. When was the last time to home was tested for mold?
  11. What are the neighbors like? The neighborhood?
  12. Does the home have a septic tank? When was the last time it was pumped? Any problems with it?

Buying a home is investment and you want to make sure you choose the best one that fits your family’s needs.