Boost The Mood Of Your Space

If you’re still working from home, you may be feeling down about your current space. While working from home can be fun, it is important to make sure your space keeps you motivated. The best way to do that is to change up your style! Here are some of the easiest ways to boost the mood of your space:

Compartmentalize

If you’re working at home, it is easy to get distracted by your typical home responsibilities since they are now right in front of your face. To stay focused on work, try designating different areas for certain activities. By assigning specific areas for fitness, work and leisure, you will have an easier time letting your brain and body know what you should be focusing on.

Try Some Color

Adding an accent wall, or even painting a whole room, is one of the easiest ways to immediately boost the mood of a room. Consider adding a feature wall with a pop of color or lighting up the space where you work during the day. If you’re not ready to commit to painting your walls you can use accessories like throw pillows, curtains, or artwork to bring color into your space.

Declutter!

Spending more time at home can make a space that didn’t seem cramped before feel overwhelming. There’s no better way to bring harmony to your space than decluttering. While having a clean, decluttered space is aesthetically pleasing, it can also reduce your stress and help you stay focused on work instead of worrying about all the clutter in your field of vision during the day.

Try a Digital Detox

Staying informed is important, and many jobs require technology, but cutting down on screen time can greatly impact how you feel in your space. To reduce screen dependence, set up manageable boundaries based on time or place. Designate phone-free times or remove tech devices from your bedroom for a daily reset.

Lighten Up

If your home is now your office, you can now control the light conditions of your workday. Natural light is one of the best ways to literally and figuratively lighten up a space. Try positioning your desk near a window and keep drapes and shades open during the daytime. You can also add reflective surfaces to enhance the light in dark rooms.

Buying vs. Renting? What is Better For You?

Homeownership is the American Dream, right? Owning a place to call home, paint the walls purple if you like, that’s what everyone wants. Isn’t it? The reality is there are pros and cons to buying a house. Understanding them can help you make the best decision for your goals.

Pros for Buying

There are three main reasons to buy a home.

  1. Financial Advantages – A home is an asset that should appreciate over time, providing wealth-building opportunities.
  2. Pride of Ownership – As a homeowner, you control the environment in which you live. If you want those purple walls or granite countertop, you can do it.
  3. Roots – Regardless of whether you have children, there is a natural desire to be part of a community: to have a local coffee shop, dry cleaners, etc.

Cons for Buying

As with all things, there are considerations which mean this isn’t the right time to buy a home.

  1. Increased Monthly Costs – While not always the case, in most instances, your monthly mortgage will be larger than comparable rent.
  2. Freedom – A renter can move from one city or state to another quickly, allowing you to move when you need or want to.
  3. Upkeep – You are responsible for the repairs and maintenance of the property. Unexpected problems can become quite expensive if you are unprepared.

There are some excellent reasons to buy a home; before you decide that it’s time to buy, give some thought to your lifestyle and goals if they are in line with the advantages of homeownership, then time to go house hunting.

5 Questions Sellers Have about the Market during the Coronavirus Outbreak Answered

There are so many questions and concerns amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The real estate market is especially hard hit and sellers are concerned. Real estate at its core is a people business. It relies on person-to-person interaction and the coronavirus necessarily limits this contact. As the spring selling season gets started, home sellers will have questions and it’s important to acknowledge concerns and offer practical advice and concrete information to help sellers make the best decision for themselves and their families. 

1. Should I still try and sell my home? – Of course, there are many aspects to this question. First and foremost, the health concerns of the sellers’ family have to be taken into consideration. Unless absolutely necessary, the elderly and those with underlying health issues should not allow unnecessary people into their homes; including buyers and agents.

If the household is essentially healthy and not considered high-risk, then this could be a great time to sell. Consider the advantages of lower inventory coupled with low-interest rates; as listings become rarer, the remaining inventory will get more attention which could create better offers. 

2. Is it safe to have people through my home? – This is certainly a concern, but there are practical steps you can take to ensure safer home showings. 

3. What can I do to protect my family during showings? – Protect the home, family and visitors alike by taking the following precautions.

a. Keep hand sanitizer at the front door to offer buyers and their agents when they enter the home. 

b. If there is a guest bathroom, keep disposable hand towels and soap for guests to use and make the request known to the showing agent. 

c. Offer disposable gloves for use with a receptacle for used gloves. 

d. Limit the showing days and hours so you can properly clean between showings. 

e. Have cleaning wipes handy. Request agents to wipe surfaces, door handles, and banisters which are touched during the showing. 

f. Ask your agent to offer virtual showings or host virtual open houses 

4. What happens if my buyer loses their job? – Most real estate contracts include a contingency for the buyer loan approval and funding. Now more than ever, it’s critical to keep that contingency in place. In the unfortunate event the buyer loses their job or can no longer qualify for the loan during the contingency deadline, the parties cancel typically cancel the contract. 

5. Will I get a higher price if I wait to list my home? – The truth is no one knows. We don’t know how long or short the crisis will be and we don’t know how the financial market will weather the outbreak. While this is a question the seller will ultimately need to decide, the old adage about a “bird in the hand” is important to remember. 

This selling season has proven to have unique circumstances – please contact your real estate agent to learn more about the current outlook and opportunities in your local market. 

7 Things That Can Go Wrong If You Hire The Wrong Real Estate Agent

Buying a home is the biggest investment you’ll likely ever make, and it has all sorts of implications for your personal and financial future. This is why it’s so important to work with the right agent.

Too many people don’t realize just how much can go wrong if they make the wrong hire. There are some very serious problems that can arise if you accidentally work with the wrong person to buy or sell a home. Here are some of them:

1. Not listening

A professional real estate agent (or any other professional for that matter) will take the time to listen and understand their client and the client’s needs. The wrong one, however, isn’t going to listen to what you have to say, and will instead focus on what they want for themselves.

This will set the precedent for the rest of the process and make any real estate transaction a miserable experience. An agent who doesn’t take the time to know your wants and needs will cause you stress, confusion and heartache.

2. Bad advice

If there’s one thing you need a competent agent for, it’s the advice they’re able to provide. A good agent will serve as your trusted advisor, guiding you through the myriad of decisions you’ll make when buying or selling a home.

A bad agent, however, will either give you advice that’s not based on any experience or research, or is just plain self-serving. This can cost you financially or prevent you from accomplishing your goals altogether.

3. Failed negotiations

Lots of people consider themselves good negotiators, but very few actually are. While negotiating might be just one part of real estate, it’s an important one. You need someone on your side who’s working in your best interests in a competent and effective way.

A bad agent will either negotiate in such a way that attainable deals fall through, or will simply negotiate in their own best-interests rather than the interest of their clients (you).

4. Lack of responsiveness

This may or may not be one of your pet-peeves, but unresponsiveness in something as complex as a real estate transaction can be an absolute nightmare for the person whose money, home, and future are on the line.

A great agent is available most any time you need them (within reason). The wrong one, however, will let your calls, messages, and emails go unanswered while you worry yourself sick about what’s happening (or not happening).

5. Missed opportunities

Real estate is a business that moves quickly, especially when the market is hot. Even when there’s high demand, there are still opportunities for buyers, and a good agent will know how to spot them and take advantage quickly.

The wrong agent will miss good opportunities because they’re unable to recognize them, will move too slowly and miss them, or just generally not care.

6. Legal pitfalls

Real estate is complex by nature, and legal questions arise on a frequent basis. Thankfully, good agents have the knowledge and resourcefulness to help you navigate them and can find solutions even if they’re not immediately apparent.

Hiring the wrong agent will mean that when the inevitable problems creep up during the transaction, they’ll either give you the wrong advice on what to do, or will simply look at you and shrug their shoulders.

7. The process won’t be enjoyable

There’s no rule that says a real estate transaction has to be unpleasant. Yes, it’s a lengthy process that has lots of implications. But if you take a step back and think about it, buying or selling a home is usually a positive thing—whether it’s an upgrade, a money-saving downgrade, or a general lifestyle change. You should work with someone who can at least make it a pleasant experience.

And that’s the thing about hiring the wrong agent. They’re all but guaranteed to make the process one that you won’t enjoy.

So choose your next real estate agent wisely; your happiness—and the height of your high five when it’s over—will likely depend on it.

8 Ways A Great Real Estate Agent Can Change Your Life

A real estate transaction can be an exciting thing to experience, but it can also be nerve-wracking and stressful. Your experience will largely depend on the circumstances surrounding your transaction and, perhaps more importantly, the agent you’re working with.

A great agent will not only get you over the finish line to the best of their ability, but they can also change your life for the better. Here are eight ways:

1. They’ll show you they care

In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like everyone’s attention is in short supply. A great real estate agent will show you that’s not always the case, by listening and caring about you and your needs. Not only will being a good listener help an agent do their job, but it’ll also show you that even in business, there are still people out there who care.

2. They can save you a lot of money

There’s an old expression, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Hiring a great agent can save you literally thousands of dollars, as the right agent will not only negotiate effectively, but also know what pitfalls to look for as the transaction moves along, saving you money in the process.

3. They can help you see things in a different way

One of the most overlooked aspects of hiring a great agent is just how much of an effect they can have on your perspective. For instance, you might think that you’re looking for something in particular, but a great agent can take what you asked for and find something that’s even better than anything you’ve ever considered. A great agent is like an expert matchmaker.

4. They’ll do more than help you buy or sell a home

A great real estate agent will go above and beyond for you. They’ll help you find contractors, give recommendations on design (if you’re open to them), and even help you navigate the restaurants in your new neighborhood. Great agents provide so much value because they want to be your go-to resource for anything to do with real estate.

5. They can find you something that no one else can

Great real estate agents aren’t necessarily miracle workers, but they’re close. A great agent will surprise you with something no one’s ever thought of before, whether it’s finding a property that you didn’t know about, or a solution to an otherwise complex problem. A great agent is proactive and instead of sitting around waiting, will make things happen for you.

6. They can take a lot of stress away

One of the best things about a great real estate agent is the peace of mind that comes from working with them. There are lots of things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction, and a great agent knows this and will not only anticipate issues ahead of time, but will shoulder the burden and solve problems for you, making it a low-stress experience.

7. They’ll go to battle for you when it counts

The right agent is like a general you can depend on when the going gets tough. From searching for the right property or buyer, to negotiating, to pushing the deal through despite all obstacles standing in the way… a great real estate agent won’t back down from adversity and will battle for your best interests at all times.

8. They can become a friend for life

Maybe your real estate agent is already your friend, but if not, with a great agent you might eventually become one. Real estate is much more about relationships than it is about individual transactions, and great agents know this. They also usually have the kind of infectious personality that you always want to be around. So don’t be afraid to form a lifelong friendship with your real estate agent, it could truly change your life.

4 Tips For Making a Competitive Offer

Most areas of the country are experiencing a brisk real estate market. Well priced homes are moving quickly and often sellers have multiple offers from which to choose. How can you make your offer stand out and put you in a better position to get the home? Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make your offer more attractive to sellers.

  1. Offer a Fair Price – When the market is moving quickly, this is not the time to throw out a low ball offer and hope they negotiate. Write an honest price based on market values.
  2. Have a Pre-­‐Approval – It may not be enough to simply offer a pre-­qualification letter. When issuing a pre-­‐approval the lender verifies your qualifications and an underwriter gives preliminary approval based on the actual home and a good appraisal.
  3. Flexible Timing – Not everything comes down to price. A seller who is relocation might be more interested in an offer which gives them extra time to move.
  4. Attractive Terms – Most offers include contingencies for items like appraisal, inspection, title, loan approval among others. Working with your lender and real estate agent, consider removing any contingencies you don’t need. If you plan to remodel extensively for instance, you might remove the home inspection contingency. This provides more confidence in your offer vs the competition.

The most important thing in a competitive real estate market is being prepared. Working with your lender and agent, you will understand your options and be able to write a solid offer quickly, putting you in the best position to have your offer accepted.

What Type of Mortgage is Right for Me?

When our parents were buying their first home, there was one way to finance the purchase. You would walk down to the corner bank and asked for a 30 year mortgage. Today the average home owner moves every 5-7 years. Depending on your needs there are a number of mortgage options you might consider, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, spending some time to understand the options is the best way to choose the right loan for your needs. 

While loan programs and terms vary, the most common are: 

Conventional – A conventional loan is normally still designed to be paid off in 30 years with equal monthly payments during the term of the loan. There are currently conventional loans that require as little as 5% down, although 20-25% is still commonplace. 

FHA – An FHA loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and is attractive for a number of reasons, especially for the first time home buyer. The down payment can be as little as 3.5% and that can be a gift. 

VA – VA (Veteran Affairs) is a loan program offered for Veterans and their spouses. While the terms can vary from 0-5% down payment, this loan may allow the borrower to finance as much as 100% of the home’s value in the loan. 

Your lender will also have more specialized options for you, such as adjustable rate loans and 10 or 15 year loans. They can also explain the additional costs that could be associated with each type of loan program. 

Part of purchasing a home is to find the right financing. Your lender will talk you through your options. If you have not already spoken to a lender, or if you need a referral, your real estate agent is a great resource for you. 

How Do You Know If You Can Afford To Buy a House?

Do you feel that you’re ready to buy your first home? Tired of paying your landlord’s mortgage? Do you want to put down roots and start building equity for yourself? There are many reasons why people decide it could be time to buy a home. The costs associated with buying and owning a home can feel overwhelming but fortunately there are simple steps you can take to see if you can afford to buy a home. 

Talk With a Lender 

The best step you can take to start your home buying planning is to find a good lender and meet to talk about your financial situation. Your lender will look at your income, savings and credit and then talk about your needs. They will help you explore the loan options available to you and the down payment, saving reserves and closing costs requirements. 

Can You Afford the Mortgage? 

Typically rent payments are less than a mortgage payment; this can feel unsettling until you understand the qualifying formula. Because mortgage interest is deductible (speak with your tax professional for exact details), most lenders look for the buyers to spend approximately 30% of their GROSS income on the loan payment and no more than 36% on all other debt. 

Ex. If your monthly gross income is $5000/month, you can spend $1500/month on your mortgage payment. 

If you think you’re ready to buy a home, find a good lender and start talking about your unique situation. Learn the costs and benefits to help you determine if you can afford to buy a new home. 

2020 Pantone Color of the Year – Classic Blue

Drum roll please – Pantone has chosen Classic Blue as their color of the year. Over the past couple years, bold colors on walls has become common place in designer magazines and new model homes. Bucking the old guidance of using bland, light hues to make rooms look larger, deep greens, rich reds and even soft blacks are used in even the smallest spaces. This year, Pantone has chosen a fresh Classic Blue to inspire homeowners and designers in 2020. 

Classic Blue is just want it sounds like – as classic. Think of your favorite sneaker or school binder and you’ll be right on track. Described as a calming, familiar azure, Classic Blue is an uncomplicated, straightforward tone intended to provide a “neutral” backdrop for modern color palates and urban chic styling. 

Modern interior design has been trending towards more unassuming color schemes for furniture, flooring and accents. Kitchens sport sleek white cabinets and subway tile counters and backsplashes. Tone on tone design with urban elements of steel and soft wood tones lend themselves to this fresh blue hue. Pantone suggests that the simple color palate of blue and white is a comforting return to more traditional styling and expects that Classic Blue is the perfect wall color to compliment the Mid-Century and 60s décor that have emerged with a modern twist. 

A great weekend project for a room or rooms, Classic Blue would add a fresh look to any space. 

Have You Outgrown Your House?

Many homeowners are surprised when they suddenly realize that “perfect” home of just a few years ago no longer suits their needs. From an expanding family to the empty nest, it’s common for a home to no longer be the right fit. If you’re unsure if you’ve reached the point where a move is warranted, here are a few signs you’ve outgrown your home.

• More Kids than Rooms or More Rooms than Kids – Life changes and our homes must change also.
• Clutter or Lack of Storage – Do you need more closet or storage space? A home with more space could be the answer.
• Home Office – More and more companies are opting for telecommuting or home office workers, if your kitchen is your office, it might be time to look for a new home with extra room for a home office.
• Outdoor Entertaining – Home design trends over the last couple decades has seen a rise in outdoor living and entertaining areas. You might have simply outgrown your yard if you crave space for an outdoor living or dining area.
• Lifestyle – The square footage might be fine, but you would prefer a different floor-plan; more open, single story, more windows, etc.

Your reasons for moving will be as unique as you are, but these are just a few considerations which indicate you might have outgrown your current home. Make sure your home still meets your needs and wants, then you’ll be able to decide if it’s time to move.