Andrea Kenney - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Metropolitan



Posted by Andrea Kenney on 4/6/2020

Believe it or not, even a first-time homebuyer can become a property buying expert. If you plan ahead for the homebuying journey, you can quickly and easily navigate the path from homebuyer to homeowner.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you master the homebuying journey.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

If you know you want to buy a home in the foreseeable future, it generally is a good idea to create property buying criteria. That way, you'll know what you want to find in your dream residence and can map out your home search accordingly.

For instance, if you prefer big city life, you may want to hone your house search to a select group of cities. On the other hand, if you want to own a house that offers a large backyard and an in-ground swimming pool, you may want to search for homes that fall in line with your expectations.

2. Get Home Financing

As a homebuyer, you likely will need to secure a mortgage so you can acquire your dream residence. Fortunately, there is no shortage of banks and credit unions across the United States that are happy to help you obtain home financing.

Take a look at the mortgage options available from a variety of banks and credit unions – you'll be happy you did. By conducting an in-depth evaluation of your home financing options, you can make an informed mortgage selection.

Of course, home financing can be complicated. And if you have any concerns or questions, don't hesitate to ask a bank or credit union for assistance. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable home financing specialists, and these professionals can provide mortgage insights you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure how you'll navigate the homebuying journey, there is no need to worry. Dozens of real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can offer comprehensive homebuying insights.

For those who want to master the homebuying journey, it often is beneficial to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can teach you about different aspects of the homebuying journey. Plus, he or she is ready to provide homebuying recommendations and suggestions as you search for your ideal residence.

In addition, a real estate agent offers extensive assistance at each stage of the homebuying journey. From the moment you start your home search to the moment you finalize your home purchase agreement, a real estate agent is available to help. Best of all, a real estate agent will help you alleviate stress as you consider houses and ensure you can make the best-possible home purchase decision.

As you get set to enter the real estate market, you should strive to become a homebuying expert. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can master the homebuying journey and discover and buy your dream residence in no time at all.




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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 3/30/2020

If you want to maximize your home sale profits, it generally is a good idea to conduct a property appraisal before you list your residence. That way, you can receive a property valuation from an expert home appraiser. And with this property valuation in hand, you can set a competitive initial asking price for your residence.

A home appraisal may prove to be a stressful experience, particularly for a seller who is unsure about the value of his or her house. Lucky for you, we're here to provide insights into the home appraisal process and ensure that you can prepare for this evaluation.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you approach a house appraisal with confidence.

1. Understand How a Home Appraisal Works

Although you've allocated significant time and resources to upgrade your house, it is important to remember that the condition of your residence is one of several factors that a home appraiser considers. In fact, an appraiser will evaluate the current state of the housing market, the prices of comparable houses in your area and other factors to provide an accurate property valuation.

Oftentimes, it helps to work with a real estate agent if you plan to sell your home. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive immediate responses to any of your home appraisal concerns and questions.

2. Establish Realistic Expectations for Your Home

Let's face it – what you initially paid for your house is unlikely to match your residence's current value. If you set realistic expectations for your residence prior to an appraisal, you may be better equipped than ever before to accept the evaluation results.

It may be beneficial to look at the prices of houses in your area prior to an appraisal. This information can help you understand whether the housing market currently favors buyers or sellers – a factor that may influence the valuation of your house from an appraisal.

3. Explore Ways to Boost Your Home's Value

There are always options to bolster a house's exterior and interior. Therefore, following an appraisal, you should plan to complete home repairs that could help enhance your house's value.

As you search for ways to upgrade your residence, you may want to reach out to a real estate agent too. This housing market professional can offer recommendations and tips to help you improve your residence, even if you're working on a tight budget.

Of course, a real estate agent provides extensive assistance throughout the home selling journey. He or she will promote your residence to prospective buyers and host home showings and open house events. And if you receive an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent will help you determine the best course of action.

Ready to conduct a home appraisal? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of a successful house appraisal that leads to a fast, profitable home selling experience.




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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 3/23/2020

Image by Annie Gray from Unsplash

If you are handy with home repair, you could buy a more expensive house if you are willing to put some work into it. Many foreclosures are often sold “as is,” and require some work. The seller may also be more open to negotiating a lower price based on the number of repairs that need to be done. You could save quite a bit of money if you can do a lot of the work yourself.

The Down Payment

If you budgeted $300,000 for a home, you probably have the 20 percent down payment saved up already. Instead of putting all of that down payment on a $300,000 house, you could purchase a home that would be worth $400,000 if it didn’t need work. Instead, the sellers have listed the home for $200,000. Instead of putting $60,000 down on a home that is ready to move into, you could get a larger home and put down with a $40,000 down payment. That gives you $20,000 that you already saved to put into repairs.

Special Loans

Some lenders have loan programs that are specifically for fixer-uppers. They lend you the amount needed to purchase the home and extra money to make repairs to the house. However, you will have to follow the lender’s rules. The rules vary from lender to lender, but could include:

  • Doing a percentage of the work yourself;
  • Living on the property; and
  • Completing a portion of the work within a specific amount of time.

If you already plan on doing most or all of the work yourself, you’ve met that condition. If you are required to live on the property, you could set up an RV or live in a section of the house that doesn’t need extensive repairs. You could even convert an outbuilding to an in-law apartment.

The hardest part is committing to completing a percentage of the work within a specific amount of time. If you work all day, you only have nights and weekends to work on the house.

Know What Has to Be Done

Before you commit to a loan with terms for extra money to fix up a home, go through the house to make a list of everything that absolutely must be done. You might make a second list of things that you would like to do, but do not stop you from living in the house. Determine the costs of the “must-do” repairs to make sure you have enough money to make those repairs. Then, estimate the amount of time it will take you to make those repairs. You might want to pad the time since Murphy’s Law loves to interfere with your best intentions.

Once you determine that you have enough money to at least get the house habitable and can do it within the lender’s terms, you are ready to make a bid!





Posted by Andrea Kenney on 3/16/2020

Photo by SpeedKingz via Shutterstock

Living green is the goal of many young homebuyers. Once in their new home, they want to take steps toward improving their home’s efficiency. The first step to improving your home’s energy efficiency is to choose the right house.

Solar panels and LED light fixtures aside, the most efficient form of housing is an attached home. When your house nestles between the walls of adjoining homes, you share their heating and cooling through ambient temperature exchange. When a home sits above another home, their heat rises in the winter to warm that home. If it’s below another home, it’s cooled by the temperature set by the neighbor above. When energy efficiency remains a high priority for your home location, choose a condominium, townhome or duplex to improve your heating and cooling properties.

Improving an Existing Home

If you own a typical single-family, detached home, you’ll find a lot of wasted space being heated and cooled. But address these areas, and you’ll see a marked improvement in your energy consumption and costs:

  • Pile on the insulation. Many homes have expansive attics with high roofs above the ceiling joists. The deeper the insulation, the more your winter warmth stays in your home to keep you cozy. But along with adding insulation to your attic, improve its airflow so that summer heat escapes to the outdoors, helping your cooled air circulate.
  • Smarten up the windows. Older homes often have single-paned windows, and even those with double panes leak or have broken seals. Replace windows with thermal dual or triple-paned options to see an immediate improvement to those drafty winters and summers where you’re forced to keep the blinds closed. Along with thermal panes, look for smart windows. Buy windows coated with a substance called vanadium oxide (VO2) that adjusts to the temperature to either reflect or let pass infrared light to keep your home warmer or cooler.
  • Monitor your HVAC with a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats adjust your home’s temperature based on learning when you’re at home and when you’re away. Some can also detect the humidity and adjust the temperature to compensate.
  • Install automatic blinds. Adjustable powered window coverings open and close automatically throughout the day to offset outdoor temperatures.

Try These Simple Things Today

While they won’t make a drastic different, you will see an improvement in your energy bills.

  • Change incandescent bulbs for LEDs throughout the home.
  • Turn the thermostat up two or three degrees in the summer and down two or three degrees in the winter.
  • Lower your water heater to 120°F.

If your goal is to purchase an energy-efficient home, let your real estate agent know. That way, you won’t waste energy looking at ones that don’t fit your desire to leave a lighter footprint.




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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 3/9/2020

 Photo by Matt Chen on Unsplash

When you’re creating a landscaping plan for your home it is essential to design around the local climate and weather patterns. When you opt for plants that thrive in your area, you know they are well equipt to handle the seasonal changes specific to your location. This adaptation makes them easier to care for and less dependent on extra watering. It is especially important to integrate this kind of landscaping when there is some level of drought occurring where you live. 

What to Keep

Drought tolerant landscaping is a beautiful way to save on water usage. The good news is that creating a more drought-tolerant yard doesn't necessarily mean removing all of the plantings you currently have. 

Large trees are a great asset, plan on keeping those. Well placed trees provide shade for your home and garden which can be an energy saver all year long. Shade trees also allow a diverse variety of plants to grow comfortably and provides nesting habitat for birds and other native wildlife. 

A drought-tolerant landscape typically includes little to no grass. Grass requires regular watering to keep it green and thriving. Lawn watering can be expensive and seasonally limited by the town or city where you reside. Opting to replace even a section of your lawn with a rock garden or wildflowers is guaranteed to reduce your water bill.

What to Add

Focus on plants local to your area. These plants have evolved to handle the local climate and will have the best chance of growing with little to no input from you. In general, using rocks or wood pellets instead of grass for ground covering will serve you well. Try lava rock to cut down on erosion and help the soil retain more water. Install ground cloth under the rock bed or add mulch to curb weed growth and protect your native plants from insects. For an added boost for your plantings, add compost to your soil before the mulch.

Irrigation

An irrigation system could be a helpful addition to your landscape because it allows you to control where and how much you’re watering. If you have an irrigation system in place be sure to have it serviced regularly, especially if you have made changes to the plantings or green areas in your yard. 

If you’re considering installing a new system, an efficient option is a grey-water system. Grey-water irrigation allows for the reuse of water from your in-home sinks, washing machines, showers, and bathtubs to water your plants.

The right landscaping can boost your curb appeal and property value to the next level. Ask your real estate agent for their advice and professional landscaper recommendations in your area.







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