Get Your HVAC System Ready for Winter

Get Your HVAC System Ready for Winter

Now that it’s officially winter, get your HVAC system ready for winter with these steps.  Regardless of where you live every homeowner should be getting their systems in tip top shape.  If you’ve not yet gotten started prepping your central heating system, there’s no time like the present.

Furnace Season Basics for Every Homeowner

Being a first time homeowner may mean you have very little experience with home repair.  Here are some of the ways to improve your heating system’s safety and performance this year.   Here are a few items you may want to put on this weekend’s “to do” list:

Check that your carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms are in good working order. Furnaces get hot and that makes them a minor risk for fire, especially as they age.

Reverse your ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can help save a bundle on home heating. There’s a switch on most ceiling fan motors that allows you to control which way they spin. In the winter, you’ll want them to turn clockwise at low speed.  This will pull the hot air away from the ceiling and push it toward the living area.

Change your filters. Your furnace performs best when the filter is clean. The filter is  like a surgical mask for your HVAC system. When too many particles are clogging up the pores, the furnace struggles to bring in a full breath.  Ideally, you should change filters when they appear dirty, not when there’s physical material sticking to them. Investing in an electrostatic filter can mean huge savings on replacement filters and gives you a chance to rinse your filter out weekly, so you’ll always have optimal airflow.

Rearrange the furniture. Blocked vents are vents that aren’t living up to their potential. Move furniture out of the way so you can take advantage of  hot air coming out of the furnace.

Upgrade your thermostat. Besides being able to turn the furnace up before getting out of bed on a cold morning, smart thermostats can save a lot of energy and money all year long. Since many Americans have their largest utility bills in the winter, this is a great time to make that investment. Products like Nest’s Learning Thermostats, Honeywell’s Lyric and Ecobee 3 are designed to work with popular home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, too!

Additional Considerations

it’s a good idea to have a regular inspection to ensure that your HVAC system is ready for winter and it’s in prime working order. Things like cracked heat exchangers are real health hazards. An HVAC inspection and routine cleaning is a very minimal expense and can often be reduced further in price with a longer-term service agreement from a reputable service provider.

These service agreements not only give you peace of mind knowing that your equipment has been carefully inspected and will continue to be at regular intervals, but helps you build a lasting relationship with a high-quality HVAC expert You can find many of these shops in HomeKeepr, just open it up and see who your Realtor has recommended locally!

While you wait for your new HVAC service provider to come and check your furnace, go through our winter maintenance checklist to ensure that you’ve covered all your bases before the cold winds really start to blow.

Increase Your Home’s Appeal

Increase Your Home’s Appeal

 

Increase your home’s appeal so that it makes a great first impression.   Remember the 60-second rule: You only have 60 seconds  to create a winning first impression.  Here are some simple ways to maximize your home’s appeal.

 

Increase Your Home’s Appeal on the Exterior

 

* Keep the grass cut and remove all yard clutter.
* Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds.
* Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
* Tighten and clean all door handles.
* Clean windows inside and out.
* Powerwash home’s exterior.
* Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
* Paint the front door.
* Buy a new welcome mat.
* Place potted flowers near the front door.

 

Increase Your Home’s Appeal on the Interior

 

* Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts “the flow” or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
* Clean and organize cabinets, closets and bookshelves.
* Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
* Shampoo carpets.
* Remove excessive wall hangings and knick-knacks.  De-clutter.  Then, de-clutter again.
* Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
* Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).
* Clean or paint walls and ceilings.
* Replace worn cabinet and door knobs.
* Fix or replace discolored grout.
* Replace broken tiles.
* Replace worn countertops.

 

Increase Your Home’s appeal with Special Details 

 

* Turn on all the lights.
* Open all drapes and shutters in the daytime.
* Keep pets secured outdoors.
* Buy new towels for bathrooms.
* Buy new bedding for bedrooms.
* Replace old lamps or lampshades.
* Play quiet background music.
* Light the fireplace or clean out the ashes and light a candelabrum.
* Add a comforting scent, such as apple spice or vanilla.
* Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party.
* Be sure to Vacate the property while it is being shown.

Factors that Affect the Sale of Your Home

Factors that Affect the Sale of Your Home

 

There are many factors that affect the sale of a home.   However, the seller is only able to control three of these factors:

Factors that Affect the Sale of a Home that a Seller Can Control

* The home’s condition
* Asking price
* Marketing strategy

 

However, it’s important to note that there are numerous other factors that influence a buyer.  Furthermore, it’s important that understand consumer trends when you enter into a  sellers’ market.  The more your home matches these qualifications, the more competitive it will be in the marketplace. Your real estate agent will advise you on how to best position and market your home.

 

Factors that Affect the Sale of a Home that a Seller Cannot Control

 

Location

The home’s location is the  most influential factor in determining a home’s appeal to a  buyer and it is something that a seller can’t control.  According to the National Association of REALTORS, neighborhood quality is the top reason  buyers choose certain homes. The second most influential factor is commute times to work and school.

Size

While some buyers want to simplify their lives and downsize to a smaller home, home sizes in general have continued to increase over the decades.   Home sizes have nearly doubled in size since the 1950s. Smaller homes typically appeal to first-time home buyers and  “empty nesters”,   Whereas, homes with more bedrooms and larger yards typically appeal to “move up” buyers with growing families.

Amenities

Preferences in floor plans and amenities go in and out of fashion, and your real estate agent can inform you of the “hot ticket” items that buyers are willing to pay more for.  If your home lacks certain features, you can renovate to increase its appeal.   However, that may not always be the right move.  An experienced real estate agent  will help you determine whether the investment is likely to help or hinder your profit margin and time on the market.

Good Seller’s Etiquette

Good Seller’s Etiquette

When your house goes on the market, you’re not only opening the door to prospective buyers, but also sometimes to unknown vendors and naive or unqualified buyers.

As with any business transaction, there is an expected protocol to how sellers, buyers and their respective agents interact. Should you find yourself in a sticky situation, let  your agent know.  Your agent can address the issue and remedy the problem.

Here are a few suggestions on how to you can begin using good seller’s etiquette to handle these situations.

 

The aggressive agent

When your house is on the market, all promotional materials state clearly that your agent is the primary contact for buyers and buyers’ agents.  However, sometimes a buyer’s agent will contact a seller directly.    This is not reputable behavior.  Let your agent know immediately if it happens to you.

The unscrupulous vendor

Have you ever moved and suddenly found your mailbox full of junk mail?  Unfortunately, this also can happen when you put your house on the market.  When you sell your home, there may be various purchasing decisions.  Sometimes  less-than-ethical vendors will take advantage of this.  Though MLS organizations enforce rules on how posted information is used, some companies have found ways to produce mass mailing lists.   If you think your address was sold, let your agent know.

The naive buyer

Yard signs, Internet listings and other advertisements can generate a lot of buzz for your home. Some prospective buyers – particularly first-timers – might be so excited to see your home that they’ll simply drop by.  If this happens, no matter how nice these unexpected visitors are, it’s best not to humor their enthusiasm by discussing your home or giving an impromptu tour.  Instead, politely let them know that your real estate agent is in charge of scheduling tours and provide them with the agent’s contact information.  If you attempt to handle these surprise visits on your own, you might inadvertently disclose information that could hurt you during negotiations down the road.

Price To Sell and Still Make A Profit

Price To Sell and Still Make A Profit

 

Price to sell and still make a profit is one of the biggest concerns that homeowners have when listing their home for sale. The asking price you set for your home significantly affects whether you will profit in the sale, how much you will profit and how long your home will sit on the market.

My knowledge of the overall market and what’s selling – or not selling – will be invaluable in helping you determine the price. My  objective is to find a price that the market will bear but won’t leave money on the table.

Price to Sell Points to Consider

 

Time. Time is not on your side when it comes to real estate. Although many factors influence the outcome, perhaps time is the biggest determinant in whether or not you see a profit and how much you profit. Studies show that the longer a house stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell for the original asking price.

Therefore, if your goal is to make money, think about a price that will encourage buyer activity (read: fair market value).

 

Value vs. Cost. Pricing your home to sell in a timely fashion requires some objectivity. It’s important that you not confuse value with cost – in other words, how much you value your home versus what buyers are willing to pay for it.

Don’t place too much emphasis on home improvements when calculating your price, because buyers may not share your taste. For instance, not everyone wants hardwood floors or granite countertops.

 

Keep it simple. Because time is of the essence, make it easy for the buyers. Remain flexible on when your agent can schedule showings. Also, avoid putting contingencies on the sale. Though a desirable move-in date makes for a smoother transition between homes, it could cause you to lose the sale altogether.

10 Questions You Should Ask Your Realtor

10 Questions You Should Ask Your Realtor

Here are 10 questions you should ask your realtor before signing the dotted line.    .

Are you a full-time professional real estate agent?

How long have you worked full time in real estate?  How long have you been representing buyers? What professional designations do you have?
Knowing whether or not your agent practices full time can help you determine potential scheduling conflicts and his or her commitment to your transaction.  As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion. The same issue can apply to professional designations.

Do you have a personal assistant, team or staff to handle different parts of the purchase?

What are their names and how will each of them help me in my transaction?  How do I communicate with them?It is not uncommon for agents who sell a lot of houses to hire people to work with them.  As their businesses grow, they must be able to deliver the same or higher quality service to more people. You may want to know who on the team will take part in your transaction, and what role each person will play.  You may even want to meet the other team members before you decide to work with the team.  If you have a question about fees on your closing statement, who would handle that?   Who will show up to your closing?

Do you have a Website?

Can I have your URL address? Who responds to emails and how quickly? What’s your email address?
Many buyers prefer to search online for homes because it’s available 24 hours a day and can be done at home. So you want to make sure your home is listed online, either on the agent’s Website or on their company’s site. By searching your agent’s Website you will get a clear picture of how much information is available online.

How will you keep in contact with me during the selling process, and how often?

Some agents may email, fax or call you daily to tell you that visitors have toured your home, while others will keep in touch weekly. Asking this question can help you to reconcile your needs with your agent’s systems.

What do you do that other agents don’t that ensures I’m getting top dollar for my home?

What is your average market time versus other agents’ average market time?
A real estate professional’s unique method of research and delivery can make the difference between selling quickly or lanquishing on the market.   For example, an agent might research the demographics of your neighborhood and present you a target market list for direct marketing purposes.

Will you give me names of past clients?

Interview an agent like you would interview a potential employee.  Contacting references can be a reliable way for you to understand how he or she works, and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.

Do you have a performance guarantee?

What happens if I am not satisfied with your performance?

In the heavily regulated world of real estate, it is almost impossible for an agent to offer a performance guarantee. If your agent does not have a guarantee, it does not mean they are not committed to high standards. Typically, he or she will verbally outline what you can expect from their performance.  Keller Williams Realty Allen understands the importance of win-win business relationships: the agent does not benefit if the client does not also benefit.

How are you paid?

How are your fees structured? May I have that in writing?

In many areas, the seller pays all agent commissions.  Some agents charge other administrative or special service fees that are charged to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. Be aware of the big picture prior to signing any agreements.  Furthermore, ask for an estimate of costs from any agent you contemplate employing.

How would you develop pricing strategies for our home?

Although location and condition affect the selling process, price is the primary factor in determining if a home sells quickly, or at all.  Access to current property information is essential, and sometimes a pre-appraisal will help.  Ask your agent how they created the market analysis, and whether your agent included For Sale by Owner homes, foreclosed homes and bank-owned sales in that list.

What will you do to sell my home?

Who pays for your advertising?  Ask your real estate agent to give you a clear plan of how marketing and advertising dollars will be spent.  If there are other forms of marketing available but not specified in the plan ask who pays for those.  Request samples or case studies of the types of marketing strategies that your agent proposes (such as Internet Websites, print magazines, open houses, and local publications).