Tips for Selling your Home


Most people don’t plan on living in their first (or second or maybe even third) home forever, but knowing when the time is right to put that baby on the market can be tricky.In fact, it can feel kind of like breaking up with a longtime boyfriend or girlfriend. Deep down, you knew you wouldn’t be with that person forever—but ending things can be way easier said than done.

Sometimes life changes force the issue: There’s little reason for self-doubt or trauma-level angst if you’re relocating to another state or you know your newborn twins won’t fit in your one-bedroom bungalow. But without a pressing reason staring you in the face, it can be hard to know when you’ve outgrown your home.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to let go?



1. You’re feeling cramped, and you can’t add on

Your family might not be growing, but that doesn’t mean your lifestyle still fits in your current house.

If you’ve started working from home, for example, or you’ve adopted an extended family of indoor cats—or maybe you’ve just never gotten over your dream of having a sewing room—your house might be too small.

But before you jump to conclusions, see if paring down your possessions works to free up some space.

Another option might be to finish an attic or basement, add another room, or even add a whole story to your home. But, of course, that won’t work for everyone.

“If your property isn’t large enough or your municipality doesn’t allow it, moving to a bigger home may be your best option,” says Will Featherstone, founder of Featherstone & Co. of Keller Williams Excellence in Baltimore.

To decide which route to take, check your local building laws and get estimates from two or three contractors. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with your REALTOR®. Sometimes adding on won’t increase the value of a home, and you don’t want to make big-time improvements that will bring only a small-time return on your investment.



2. You have too much space

On the other hand, perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed by vacant rooms and silence. (Hello, empty nesters!)

“In this case, it no longer makes sense to have, say, four bedrooms and a basement,” Featherstone says.

Saying goodbye to a family home can be difficult, but you should consider how feasible it is to stay. If yardwork and house upkeep are getting to be a little too much, or soaring utility bills are cramping your style, it might make more sense to move.



3. You’re over the neighborhood

Maybe you can no longer deal with the rigid rules of your homeowners association, or perhaps your neighbors turned their house into a rental for frat guys. Whatever the reason, neighborhood dynamics can change dramatically over time.

And sometimes, you can change. Maybe the 40-minute commute to work didn’t seem like such a big deal the first few years, but now you’re dreading it every day. Or your kids are getting older, which can be a big problem if you’re not in the right location.

“If you can’t afford a private school system, you are limited to one school for your children,” Featherstone says. “Moving may be a benefit to your child’s education.”



4. Remodeling won’t offer a return on your investment

Giving your kitchen or bathroom a face-lift can make your house feel like new again, which might be all you need to decide you want to stay put for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s a financially sound decision.

“Before making significant improvements, you should really study the neighborhood and know the highest price point of your neighborhood,” Featherstone says.

If your home is already similar in style and condition of some of the priciest homes in the neighborhood, remodeling might be a bad idea, and you should consider selling instead.




5. You can afford to sell

Sure, you’re going to make money when you actually sell your house, but as the adage goes, it takes money to make money. So seller beware: You probably won’t be sitting around and waiting for the dollars to roll in.

“Before you consider selling, you should have the funds available to prepare your home for sale,” Featherstone says.

Most sellers need to make some minor improvements such as painting, landscaping, or updating flooring to get a good price on their home. Those costs will come out of your pocket at first, so it’s a good idea to have a cushion before you start.



6. You’re ready to compete

If you’re living in a seller’s market, you might be enticed to offload your home before things cool off. But don’t forget—once you sell, you’ll probably be a buyer, too.

“If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but keep in mind the home you buy also will be more expensive,” Featherstone says.

If you’re going to get out there, you should make sure you’re ready to compete.

Provided by C.A.R.


If you’re a home seller, you’ve probably spent a lot of time getting your house ready to sell. However, once the For Sale sign goes up on your property, it can be easy to forget that you may need to take additional security precautions to keep your home and belongings safe during the process. Mary Wassef, a real estate agent with Circa Real Estate in Houston, Texas offers these important security tips to keep in mind. It’s important for sellers to heed this advice when getting ready to put your house on the market.

1. Hide your valuables in a safe place

Strangers will be walking through your home during showings and/or open houses. For security’s sake, remember to remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, and any other valuables from the home during the listing period or at least during showings. Also consider removing or hiding prescription drugs. Some seemingly honest people wouldn’t think twice about getting their hands on any of these items.



2. Put away anything with personal information

Don’t leave mail or bills out in the open where anyone can see it. Be sure to lockdown your computer, laptop, tablet and/or any other expensive electronic devices prior to your showings.



3. Do not show your home by yourself

If someone comes to your door claiming to be an agent and you have no scheduled appointment, ask them to call your agent to confirm an appointment. Predators come in all shapes and sizes. They can refer all inquiries to your agent.



4. Keep your pets away for the day

You are responsible for your pets. If possible, your animals should be removed during showings. If that isn’t possible make sure they are locked up. Fido may be the most-friendly dog in the neighborhood, but when it comes to a stranger, you just can’t be sure. You don’t want to be held liable for any attacks or incidents related your pets.



5. Lock the door

When leaving your home so that it can be shown, make sure all doors are locked. Other agents will be able to access the property through the lockbox. You don’t want any unwanted visitors entering the property without proper accessibility.

Provided by C.A.R.

What’s Your True Monthly Payment

You filled out the paperwork, you closed the deal, you locked down the deed. But have you calculated the true cost of your home?
What’s “true” cost? (Isn’t there just one monthly mortgage payment?)
If only. For the new homeowner, expenses span far beyond a single monthly mortgage payment. But not to fear! Here’s how you can remain on top of all your monthly costs.
In addition to your mortgage bill each month, you can expect maintenance, repair, and other upkeep fees. That’s not including your utilities (Internet, heat and electricity, garbage, inspection fees, etc.), insurance, PMI, HOA, and … whoa. When did it all add up so quickly? And how can you budget for it all?
First things first: list out all expenses. It’s not as scary as it seems, especially after the first pass! Getting your numbers straight will only empower you as you create your payment plan.
To get the clear picture of your total monthly expense, you’ll want to factor in multiple expenses.

Utilities and basic living expenses-

Getting settled in your new home will likely start with setting up some of the basics: gas and electric, garbage, and water. Tag onto that cable and Internet plus any initial deposits or setup fees. These are costs that will crop up monthly.

Homeowners insurance-

Once you take on your own house, you’ll also want to protect it! Homeowners insurance is a crucial part of the monthly expense (and can sometimes be one of the most painful checks to write). The cost of homeowners insurance will depend on where you live and what plan you choose.


For those whose downpayment is less than 20 percent, you’ll most likely be required by your lender to pay into something called private mortgage insurance or PMI. The reason? Lenders use this as a protection in case a borrower defaults on the loan.


Gone are the days when you called your landlord when the faucet leaks. You’re the head honcho now! That means any repairs will be at your own expense. General repairs and upkeep costs are an important expense to factor into your budget.

Property taxes-

Property taxes are based on the value of your home. The higher the value, the more you’ll have to yield come tax time. Something to consider as you sign the dotted line on your above-budget dream home!

HOA fees-

Joining a condominium or apartment complex community? That usually means you’ll be required to contribute to the maintenance of any common spaces (pool, landscaping, and general upkeep). These homeowners association (HOA) fees are often annual, though depending on the community, they can get a wee bit pricey.

Styling expenses-

How you plan to fill your new space makes a big difference in your budget. Mattresses run upward of $1,000, and appliances and furnishings aren’t a drop in the bucket! Consider the items you plan to add to your home over time – and include them in your budget.

ICE costs-

In-case-of-emergency (ICE) expenses cover unexpected costs. Maybe you need a roof repair after a storm or the refrigerator dies on you. Though these aren’t guaranteed expenses, it’s likely you’ll face a challenge at some point in your homeownership timeline.

Do the math-

Once you’ve made the rough estimate for each housing expense, you can separate the costs into two categories: monthly and yearly. For any yearly cost, dividing the number by 12 will show an expected monthly cost for that particular expense. Then add each of those newly calculated monthly expenses to the total in the monthly expense category. Voila, here’s your true monthly payment.

Surprised? No doubt about it, it can be a bit shocking to see the true calculation in the beginning. But knowing this number gives you a clearer picture of what you can expect as you transition into homeownership. Clarity and strategy are a winning combo when tackling your budget.

Courtesy of Claire Murdough. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

7 Tips for Improving Your Credit

                                                                      7 Tips for Improving Your Credit
Here’s how to clean up your credit so you get the least-expensive home loan possible.

Getting the loan that suits your situation at the best possible price and terms makes homebuying easier and more affordable. Here are seven ways to boost your credit score so you can do just that.

1. Know your credit score

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher, the better. They’re based on whether you’ve paid personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt in full and on time in the past. You’ll need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a home loan and 740 to get the best interest rates and terms.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Access all three versions of your credit report at Review them to ensure the information is accurate.

2. Correct errors on your credit report

If you find mistakes on your credit report, write a letter to the credit-reporting agency explaining why you believe there’s an error. Send documents that support your case, and ask that the error be corrected or removed. Also write to the company, or debt collector, that reported the incorrect information to dispute the information, and ask to be copied on any materials sent to credit-reporting agencies.

3. Pay every bill on time

You may be surprised at the damage even a few late payments will have on your credit score. The easiest way to make a big difference in your credit score without altering your spending habits is to diligently pay all your bills on time. You’ll also save money because you’ll keep the money you’ve been spending on late fees. Credit card or mortgage companies probably won’t report minor late payments, those less than 30 days overdue, but you’ll still have to pay late fees.

4. Use credit carefully

Another good way to boost your credit score is to pay your credit card bills in full every month. If you can’t do that, pay as much over your required minimum payment as possible to begin whittling away the debt. Stop using your credit cards to keep your balances from increasing, and transfer balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest cards.

5. Take care with the length of your credit

Credit rating agencies also consider the length of your credit history. If you’ve had a credit card for a long time and managed it responsibly, that works in your favor. However, opening several new credit cards at once can lower the average age of your accounts, which pushes down your score. Likewise, closing credit card accounts lowers your available credit, so keep credit cards open even if you’re not using them.

6. Don’t use all the credit you’re offered

Credit scores are also based on how much credit you use compared with how much you’re offered. Using $1,000 of available credit will give you a lower score than having $1,000 of available credit and using $100 of it. Occasionally opening new lines of credit can boost your available credit, which also affects your score positively.

7. Be patient

It can take time for your credit score to climb once you’ve begun working to improve it. Keep at it because the more distance you put between your spotty payment history and your current good payment record, the less damage you’ll do to your credit score.

Courtesy of G.M. Filisko.

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