You’re a New Homeowner – Now What?

You’re a New Homeowner – Now What?

  You have signed your life away. You’ve stressed out over everything falling into place and the day is finally here and you have bought your dream house. You’ve got the keys, now what? Well, now the fun begins. There are so many things that you can do to make your house your own. Here are a few that I think are top of the list: Change the locks. Unless you bought a brand new construction home that has an owner key that trips the locks as soon as you use it the first time, this is a MUST. You have no idea how many keys are out there to your new house. The Seller can tell you they gave you all the keys but they may have forgotten about the house cleaner they left a key for just to clean after they moved out. If they didn’t get the locks changed when they moved in, the previous handyman could have a key. It is a very inexpensive first step that can give you real peace of mind. While we’re on the subject of peace of mind… Set the alarm. Have an alarm installed or get the existing system checked and begin monitoring. You are going to be in and out of the house. You will have many people in and out of the house as well. People will see your belongings being brought in, and, some may take notice of your nice things. You will be exhausted and may forget to lock up properly when you leave. The best deterrent for thieves is a good alarm system that is armed. Just remember to arm it when you leave or go to bed! Hire a designer. I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t afford to hire a designer – I just bought a house!” There are many designers that will just charge a consultation fee and will help you with everything from where great-grand-dad’s grandfather clock will look best, how to arrange the bonus room for maximum game space, to what colors will look great to show off the family photo above the fireplace. You can get great bang for your buck on this one, trust me. Meet the neighbors. You may think you can wait on this one. You can’t. Once you’ve been in your house for a month, you’re no longer the new neighbor. I agree that the neighbors should make the effort to meet you first, however, if they don’t come by, make the effort. There will be a time when you need them to sign for a package, pick up your mail, borrow a cup of sugar, or you have water running from a pipe...

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Or Can You?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Or Can You?

  We live in a world that we have so much at our fingertips. Get online at 9:00AM and have a new suit delivered to your door by noon. We can take virtual trips to the Grand Canyon while lying in bed in Indianapolis. We can even tour a house from our phone while standing in line at the coffee shop. So why, then, can be it sometimes be so difficult when it comes to actually buying that house we’ve been dreaming of? Perhaps you can’t always get what you want. There are a lot of factors at play. Maybe the app you have been using has outdated information and the house is already sold. Maybe the photographer did such a great job that the pictures are quite deceiving. Perhaps the description of spacious and meticulously maintained was very subjective. Or, just maybe, it isn’t for sale right now. The nation’s real estate market is currently experiencing low inventory. So, what do you do if just can’t find what you’re looking for? (There’s another song in there) There are several options depending on your budget. You can rent until that right place shows up – but you need to be ready for it. Make sure you can either get out of your lease with little consequence or sign a month-to-month lease. Another option is to buy a house in a location you love and renovate it to be exactly what you want. There may be plenty of things about it you like, and you can build on what’s already there. Lastly, you can build. Of course, you need to have the land, but if that’s available, it’s a great option. One word of warning, however, you still may not get exactly what you want. Why? Well, there are several reasons for that, too. Your lot may not be able to hold the size or shape of the exact home you want. There may be an HOA involved that will disallow one of your desires. It may just not be possible to have all the things you want in the size or style of house you choose. Your architect and builder are good sources for these questions before you get started. And lastly, we change what we want. In the beginning, we want a humble home on a nice lot bordering a creek. Then we grow, change, and see many more possibilities. We then want the 3000 square foot, 2-story “smart” home with an award-winning pool and trimmings that could stack up to any on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Why am I prosing on not getting what you want? Because it’s just a house. They come and they...

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Best Home Search App

Best Home Search App

  It seems like everyone is interested in real estate. Even if you’re not in the market to sell or buy, you’re probably curious. It is interesting to know what is going on around you. What did that house down the street sell for? Or you’re driving around on a Saturday afternoon and want to know what the house you just saw with a sign in the yard is listed for. Did you miss the house because you didn’t see it on the app you use? Are you late to the party because everything you look up was sold three months ago? Where do you search for real estate? Chances are, you get on your phone or tablet and open up an app. A lot of consumers I speak with say that they use apps such as Zillow or Trulia to search for properties and find sales prices and estimated values. But, there are a couple of reasons why apps and/or websites like these might not be the best ones for you. First of all, if you have been following my blogs, you have read “Is Zillow Accurate?” Secondly, apps and sites such as these are not real estate apps – they are marketing apps. They take your information and sell it. They use it to sell to lenders, real estate agents, etc. that pay for leads. Thirdly, some MLS areas have opted not to share listing information. I read one study that showed only 49% of the current MLS listings were showing up on these apps. That’s a LOT of homes not being seen by the consumer. So what is the alternative? Where do you search for real estate information that is up to date and accurate? I am glad you asked! If you live in Tennessee, download the HomeScout app. You can use the VIP code: 6159170139. It is linked directly to the local MLS in Middle Tennessee. If you live outside of Tennessee, contact me and I can get you set up in your area. This is the greatest tool that I have seen. It tells you the status of the property, how long it has been on the market, shows photos, provides school zones, room sizes, property taxes, how long it has been on the market, and more. You can make your own notes about the property, favorite properties to watch, and even schedule a showing. The other exciting part of this tool is that I can enroll current homeowners in an automated system that will provide comps for their area every 30 days. You can now be a nosey neighbor without anyone knowing. Or, even better, you can stay on top of the market...

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Be a Team Player

Be a Team Player

  We are just off some major championships in sports. You know how important looking out for each other and assisting teammates is in that arena. Well, it is the same in real estate. If you sign a listing agreement with a Realtor, they will likely tell you how they will market your home. But what if you could reach a minimum of another 250 people? You want your house to be seen by as many people as possible, right? A good idea is to make sure your circle of friends and their friends knows your house is for sale. How do you do that? If your agent does any type of online or social media marketing, you can share it to all of your contacts on social media. If they don’t, ask for copies of the photos they have taken and post them everywhere. Take it a step further and ask a few friends to forward it or to post it to their social media contacts. Think how many people it will reach. All it takes is one person to see it and you never know who may know someone that is looking for exactly what you have to sell. In the same way, if you are looking for a house, let people know what you’re looking for. I have clients who are looking for a house in a very specific neighborhood. They have told all their friends what they are looking for. Friends that live in that neighborhood have access to a neighborhood group where homeowners often let others know they are going to sell, prior to it officially going on the market. They have been informed of a few houses that are about to come on the market. The great thing is that sometimes, your agent may be able to get you in to see it before the masses do. In hot markets, this could be the best chance you have at getting a house! Your agent may be the best in the world but in today’s world of social media and the internet, it is truly a team effort. They have their sphere and you have yours. Even if you are best friends or even family, you have a different sphere that you can tap into. Think about this: If you need a recommendation for a dry cleaner in the area, a plumber, or a summer camp for the kids, where do you go? Who do you ask? If you want to sell some housewares or find a pet sitter, what do you do? You probably head to the internet and most likely you go to social media. There are a multitude of neighborhood groups...

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Uh Oh, It’s Magic

Uh Oh, It’s Magic

If you know me well, you know I love magicians. It fascinates me to watch good ones perform and stun their audience. Some seem to read your mind. Others seem to predict the future. I love to be freaked out and wonder, HOW DO THEY DO IT??? You will ask yourself the same thing when you work with a great Realtor. They make it look easy. They get things done. My job is to work behind the scenes to fix all the things that go wrong when selling or buying a home. What, you don’t think anything went wrong when you bought or sold your house? That’s probably because you had a great Realtor on your side. Things always go wrong. They are not always big things that can cause deals to be delayed or to fall through but, trust me, there is always something. Lenders get the wrong document signed, they somehow have the wrong close date or purchase price. Title companies find undisclosed tax liens on the property that is supposed to close in 5 days. A Seller takes a refrigerator that they were supposed to leave. An appraisal comes back low. A Buyer forgets to mention a bankruptcy. The list goes on and on. Some things can’t be fixed, but most can. Don’t give up. I have been able to get a major home builder to pay closing costs, and replace items they initially said they would not. Lenders have jumped through hoops. Title companies have gone to bat for clients and other agents have worked with their clients to come to amicable solutions. In the end, everyone wants the same thing. We all want the house to sell. Sellers want to sell it, Buyers want to buy it, and all the vendors want to be paid. Most Realtors don’t get paid until closing, therefore, they should do everything they can to find solutions for issues that arise. I have been asked if I can move a house to a different location. I actually do know people that can do that! Bottom line is, make sure you have realistic expectations of the magic that can be performed. Also, though, be satisfied that your real estate agent is working hard for you and if you’re not, get another...

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New Construction Inspections

New Construction Inspections

  “I am buying a new construction home, I don’t need a home inspection.” STOP!! Let’s take a step back and think about this before “saving” $500. I have heard this argument from more than one Buyer. The builder may be great. They may have great people working for them. However, even great people make mistakes. What if they had to use a new vendor or subcontractor? What if the material was defective? What if someone was rushing to beat the rain and missed something? Many inspectors will do multiple inspections throughout the building process. There are generally 3 phases of inspection. Framing Mechanical Insulation Doing phase inspections enables inspectors to check the footers and look for any variance in framing measurements. They can view the electrical and plumbing prior to the drywall being installed as well as making sure insulation is in walls, around windows and everywhere else it should be. Home inspectors see some unfortunate things in new construction homes. Houses that passed the Codes inspection with glaring defects. Plumbers have come in after framing and cut joists for piping and not properly supported the joists that were cut. This could cause structural issues, not to mention, perhaps void possible warranties. Entire sections of walls have been missing insulation. People sue builders over poor building standards and defects all the time. From my experience, most of those lawsuits happen when a home was already complete and the Buyer didn’t or wasn’t able to do phase inspections. A lot of builders and developers are just out to make money and don’t put as much emphasis on quality control and customer service as we might expect. I don’t want to seem mistrusting, however, with a purchase as large as a house, you need to feel as comfortable as possible that your brand new home is going to last, hold and even grow its value over the years. That brings me to the final point. Don’t fret if you found the house further along in the building process and you have not had phase inspections. A home inspector can still find things, and most likely WILL find things. It doesn’t matter how old a house is, a good inspector will find items that got missed. And don’t be fooled that “It wouldn’t have passed the Codes inspection if it wasn’t done correctly.” Again, humans make mistakes. My best suggestion is that you have a home inspection any time you buy anything someone will live in. If you need a recommendation for a good home inspector, most Realtors can give you a list of inspectors they or their clients have used or you can look online. www.Ashi.org is also a good...

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