Tiny House Movement Q & A

In today’s fast-paced, complicated life many look for ways to simplify. Some even advocate that moving into a smacanstockphoto10371016ller home means having a bigger life.

So what is tiny living?

In a nutshell, the tiny house movement is a way of life. People adjust to smaller spaces and fewer possessions in order to save money while focusing on building relationships and lasting experiences.

What is a tiny house?

The average home size in 2016 ranged from 2,400 to 2,600 square feet. Tiny homes typically offer anywhere from 65 to 400 square feet.

How much do they cost?

A relatively high-end tiny house costs around $20,000 to $30,000 to build yourself. These numbers include buying a brand new trailer, professional construction plans, appliances and other brand new materials.

How to build for less?

  • Use recycled materials
  • Use less expensive materials and appliances that are still reliable of course
  • Complete all labor yourself with the help of family and friends
  • Avoid costly mistakes by doing your due diligence when researching and designing
  • Be patient and find a good deal on the perfect trailer instead of purchasing a new one

Benefits of a tiny home?

  • Less time cleaning
  • Less time spent maintaining
  • No clutter means it’s easier to find your belongings
  • Monthly bills are cheaper
  • Cozy and easy to manage living space
  • Better for the environment

 

Do you want to know more about accommodating families with tiny home living? Check out this blog from TinyHouseTalk.com

Questions You Must Ask When Searching For Your New Home

When it comes to finding your dream home, it can take some time to find the perfect place just for you. There are so many factors which go into finding the right home and the home buying process. As you begin your due diligence in researching the area and getting know your potential neighbors, finding the right schools, hiring a real estate agent, and making sure the home you fall in love with is in your price range (check out this great calculator tool).

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Before you move forward towards homeownership, take some time to chat with a loan officer to find out what kind of mortgage you can afford. If you’re not sure you can afford a home, you should also take some time to chat with a mortgage officer. There are various loans you may qualify for so make sure you get pre-approved first.

As you continue down the path towards homeownership, ask yourself these questions—

  • Why is the home for sell?
  • Are there some issues with the home you should be aware of?
  • What do you like most about the neighborhood? What don’t you like? Can you leave with it?
  • How long has the home been vacant? Why?
  • What is the water pressure like? Insulation in the attic?
  • How many drawers are in the kitchen? Is there enough counter space for you?
  • Do all the electrical outlets work?
  • Is the front door well insulated?

Your home is a place you can take pride in. Take some time now to find the best fit for you, something you can see yourself living in. Write down all the questions you have, what you can’t live without, what you’re willing to compromise on, and so on.

As you move down this path, let us help you find your dream home. We are here to answer all your questions and to assist you in finding your new home.

New Construction Advice

New ConstructionToday’s market has no shortage of cheap, previously-owned homes to pick through. But you have decided to buy a new construction home or have one built to your liking. Despite all of the benefits of buying a new construction home, you will want to make sure you do it right with these seven tips.

1. The Right Agent

A great agent to help you navigate the new construction buying process will have specific experience with builders and buyers in the area. However, they should not be affiliated with the builder. Builders and real estate agents often maintain relationships, but you will want someone to look out for you best interests.

2. Research the Builder

Searching reviews, testimonials and news online might be the best place to start. After that, you can visit other developments and talk to homeowner’s that have worked with the builder. Remember that most builders will have both satisfied and unsatisfied customers. Don’t get turned off by one bad review. Look for trends and cover your concerns in the purchase agreements.

3. Creative Negotiations

You can negotiate other factors besides price as most builders are opposed to lowing their prices. Other options include asking the builder to pay closing costs or performing upgrades at no additional charge.

4. Everything in Writing

Make sure that everything has been negotiated, agreed upon and written in contract form before you sign anything. If you are purchasing an incomplete home, it is important to ensure that you specify in writing how you want the home finished. Keep in mind that verbal conversations are not binding.

5. Remember that you don’t always get what you see

Fully finished, decorated and staged model homes aren’t a true representation of what comes standard from builders. All of those fancy upgrades like stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors come with a price.  Avoid sticker shock when touring the home. Ask the guide which features are standard and which are extra.

6. Guarantee Please

When buying a home that is not completely finished you will want to ensure that you have guarantees the home will be ready on time. Some new construction homes even come with warranties covering the home up to a year for anything they may have overlooked.

7. Home Inspection

Going along with their warranty, newly built homes often have problems too. Hire an inspector to make sure everything is safe and up to code before moving in and signing off. Typically, builders allow the buyers to conduct an independent inspection and agree to repair code compliance issues. However, they do not include a provision that allows buyers to walk away without losing their deposit.

9 Reasons For Sale by Owner Can Backfire

simpolo-1478505_640Every year homeowners contemplate hiring an agent or listing their property for sale by owner (FSBO). However, FSBO might not be the best option for the majority of sellers. Here are a few considerations to mull over before you decide if you have the chops to take on a complex real estate transaction.

1. You probably don’t have the time

Think about it, do you really want to be answering calls and knocks at the door from complete strangers who may or may not actually be potential buyers? Safety and privacy are big considerations when deciding to sell without an agent.

2. After sale issues

Although employing an agent doesn’t protect you from liability or guarantee that there won’t be any after-sale consequences, they help by taking precautionary steps. An example of an after sale issue includes a leaky roof and the buyer now wanting you to pay for a new roof. However, if you disclosed the leaky roof before the sale your bases should be covered. The key to avoiding after sale issues lies with prevention.

3. You may not be saving money after all

One of the most common reasons for someone to try and sell their house on their own is to save money. Although a very valid reason, the average FSBO home sold for $210,00 in 2014 compared to $249,000 for a home sold by a real estate agent according to the National Association of Realtors.

4. You could get scammed

Or taken advantage of. Buyers often feel that they can get a better price or deal for themselves because owners lack the skills and knowledge to negotiate. By employing an agent, you will have an expert negotiator in your corner ensuring you get top dollar for your property.

5. It’s all about the details

Underestimating the complexity involved during the entire real estate purchasing process can be detrimental. The list of potential mistakes is huge unless you are aware of your state’s laws and regulations regarding real estate transactions. Knowing how to read closing documents, fill out purchase agreements and calculate the true value of the property are extremely beneficial skills in protecting you from future litigation.

6. Too many people to negotiate with

Let’s say you decide to list your home FSBO. You should be prepared to negotiate with the buyer, the buyer agent, the buyer’s lawyer in some cases, the home inspection companies and the appraiser all of which work for the buyer. They are looking out for the buyer’s best interests. Who will you have looking out for yours?

7. The internet gets results

And real estate agents have solid internet marketing strategies. According to recent studies, 92 percent of buyers search online for their next home while only 28 percent look at print materials including newspaper ads. Do you have the skills needed to get maximum exposure to potential buyers?

8. FSBO is getting more difficult

The percentage of people listing FSBO has dropped from 19 to nine percent over that last 20 years. One of the main reasons for this drop is that as industry disclosures and regulations increases so does the paperwork involved in selling and buying a home.

9. You will end up hiring a Realtor anyway

Generally, those who are unsuccessful with selling their homes FSBO seek out professional services including hiring a real estate agent. Employing an experienced agent with a history of success gives you peace of mind that your real estate transaction will be handled carefully, respectfully and professionally.

5 Signs You Need To Replace Your Siding

shutters-669296_640Have you been looking at your siding and wondering if now is the time to replace it? To help you determine this, here are 5 signs that it’s time to replace your siding.

  1. Rot run. Your siding cannot be effective if it’s beginning to rot or crumble. If you notice this happening, you may be able to only have to repair the affected area. However, if the rotting has spread across your exterior, you will need to start over. Choose a rot-resistant material to help protect against rotting in the future.
  1. Cracks and gaps. Gaps and cracks in your exterior don’t only look bad, but can allow for moisture to seep into the cracks and rot your wood. This can also allow for critters and insects to enter into your home and walls which can lead to some serious problems.
  1. Hidden hazards. Take some time to walk around your home and inspect the exterior of your home carefully. If you notice any bulging or warped siding panels, this can be a sign of some serious damage beneath the siding. If this happens, contact a professional contractor for consultation to learn more and find out your options.
  1. Moisture and mold. Moisture build up can lead to rot, mold, or mildew which can lead to serious health problems. Bring in a professional to look over the damage and help you determine if you need to update the siding or if more internal work needs to be done.
  1. Higher resale value. If you’re planning on selling your home soon, replacing your siding can boost your resale value. Though this can become costly, in most cases you can recoup the cost in the resale. Your real estate agent can help you determine if this is something worth doing.

The more you can do for your home now to keep your home looking its best, the better off you’ll be (and the less money it will cost you) in the long run. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did.

3 Tips for Selling A Home With Pets

Are you trying to sale your home with pets? As a pet owner, covering up lingering pet smells and getting fur out of the carpet can be a challenge. To help you prepare your home for sale, without sending potential buyers running, here are few tips to make the process easier: girl-1160441_640

  1. Check your fencing. Take some time to mend your fencing, deck, and porch which may have marks from any scratching or chewing. Most of these marks can easily be erased with a little elbow grease and sandpaper.
  1. Pick up your yard. To protect your home, and not turn home buyers away, take a moment to clean up after your pet to ensure no pet-related landmines enter your home.
  1. Hide any evidence of a pet. Because you want potential home buyers to envision themselves living in your home, you’ll want to hide any evidence of a pet. Remove their toys, water and food dishes, and anything else that distracts from the home. Also, when showing your home, if possible, have your pet temporarily off-site to limit the chances of them escaping through the front door or turning into a liability.

Have some things to add about selling a home with pets? Tell us about them below in the comments or on our Facebook page.

7 Must Know Costs When Buying a Home

flowers-675949_1280When it comes to buying a home, there are many things to consider—getting pre-approved, finding your dream home, and your monthly mortgage—but there are some costs that get overlooked. As you begin the process towards home ownership, here are 7 costs and fees to be aware of:

  1. Home inspection. Your home is a huge investment, probably the biggest you’ll ever make, and you’ll want to have the home inspected before making an offer. If the home needs repairs, this will give you some leverage when making your negotiations on the price. A home inspection can cost a few hundred dollars, so make sure you’re prepared, financially, for this.
  1. Appraisal fees. Before buying a home, your lender will require you to have the property valued by a professional real estate appraiser. At one point, this was included in the closing costs, but is no longer done that way.
  1. Private mortgage insurance. Ideally, you want to put a downpayment of 20% of the price of the home. If you can’t put down 20%, in most cases, you’ll be obligated to take out a private mortgage insurance policy. Although the cost of this private insurance, on a home costing around $200,000 can expect to pay around $50-$100 per month.
  1. Closing costs. As you begin to close on your dream home, you’ll be expected to pay closing costs. The closing costs consist of processing fees, underwriting fees, recording fees, survey fees, and title insurance fees—all these fees add up to thousands of dollars (2-3% of the mortgage loan amount). When you apply for your home loan (aka getting pre-approved by your bank, credit union, or mortgage lender), make sure this closing fees are included in the loan.
  1. Homeowners insurance. This insurance is important to protect yourself against repairs or replacement costs if your home is damaged in a major event (earthquake, fire, hurricane, etc) or theft. There are various home insurance options so make sure while you’re talking with insurance agent to find out which insurance policy is your best option and get a quote so you can budget it into your expenses.
  1. Property taxes. Property taxes are set by the local government for public expenses, including, but not limited to, schools, parks, and sidewalks. The seller or seller’s agent can provide you with the annual costs of this. Also, find out when the next tax assessment is and if the property taxes will be raised due to the sale of the home.
  1. Utilities. While you prepare to make an offer on your dream home, ask the seller to provide you with a year’s worth of utility bills to determine what your monthly utility costs will be. Take into consideration of the difference of family size, a single person (in most cases) will pay less in utilities compared to a family of four.

If you’re ready to turn home ownership into a reality, give us a call today. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you find your dream home.

How to Hang Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are already coming up! I cannot tell you how surprised I am that it is that time of year again. Where has 2014 gone? Hanging Christmas lights is a huge tradition for many people during the holiday season.SMChristmasLights

Choose what lights you want to use. In this day and age, there are so many types of lights to choose from. Do you want LED, solar, string or icicle lights? Each has their own beauty and knowing which kind of light you want to use can add a different element to your light design.

Have the necessary clips and other equipment needed to hang your lights. Depending on the structure of your roof and lighting choice, there are many clips to choose from. Check out this in depth chart to help you navigate which clips are best suited for your decor.

Stay safe while putting up your lights. Remember to never hang lights while they are plugged in, never cut the electric cord while the lights are plugged in, along with these other tips.

5 Tips for Moving

Moving can be a stressful experience. Between packing and juggling children, changing schools, and dealing with everything else. To help make the whole process easier, here are 5 tips: wall small

  1. Throw or keep. As you go through your things and pack them up, decide what is worth keeping or throwing out. Don’t waste your time hauling garbage and other items you no longer want to your new home. There are so many ways to get rid of things, donate them to charity or make some extra cash by holding a yard sale.
  1. Transplant your plants. People don’t tend to think about their plants when moving. To move larger plants, wrap them with tissue or an old blanket to prevent any branches from breaking. With smaller plants, place them snugly at in a box and use packing paper to hold them in place.
  1. Moving big things. Have a professional or someone with experience to disconnect your major appliances, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, and freezers. When transporting freezer or refrigerators to a new location, take a moment to remove all the food, defrost, clean, and dry the machine. Store any extra items (screw, wires, remote controls, etc) in a plastic bag and make note of what goes to what.
  1. Consider your pets. Your pets should feel happy and safe during the move. Help them feel more secure by giving them a quiet place to settle their nerves. Also, make sure your dog’s collar has your new address on it in case he wanders out during the chaos of the move. Once you are in your new home, let them wander the home, supervised, to get used to their new surroundings.

  2. Prepare your kids for the move. You also want your kids to feel comfortable with the move. Scope out the neighborhood, surrounding parks, schools and community organizations to see what will be available once you make the move. Before moving, take a moment to map out your kids route to school and get familiar with the teachers.

For more tips for making the move go more smoothly, check out this article from Home Creations.

Help Maintain Your Home’s Beauty With These 5 Projects

Your home is your castle and a place you should feel comfortable in. In addition, your home is also your biggest investment and maintaining the upkeep is important for maximum resale value. While you work to maintain your home’s curb appeal, here are 5 DIY projects that are worth the time without breaking the bank.house-753270_640

Repaint your front door.  A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to make your home stand out and look it’s best. Add a new color like a cherry red, golden yellow, candy apple green, or even a striking black. Choose something that fits you and your home.   

Maintain a healthy lawn. Your lawn is your home’s calling card and really makes the biggest impact on your curb appeal. Take the time to make sure your lawn is healthy and green.

Keep walkways clear of debris.  Clutter and other junk around your pathways not only makes your home look sloppy and rundown, but can be a safety hazard too. Pressure washers and leaf blowers are excellent tools for keeping pathways clean and free of debris.

Incorporate safety lights. Floodlights, landscape lighting, and solar lighting are excellent (and stunning) ways to spotlight certain areas of your home you want to show off. In addition, lighting can add a safety and security aspect to your home.

Replace broken window screens. Screens that are broken or damaged can have a negative impact on your home’s curb appeal.

By investing in your home’s upkeep, you will add value to your home and build a place you are proud to call yours. There are also many great upcycle and DIY projects you can do around your home.