Your Home Newsletter October/November 2017

KILL THE CLUTTER:

There’s a reason REALTORS® always advise home sellers to remove all clutter when selling their homes: The difference is remarkable.   The clutter-free home often looks like a new one entirely, and homeowners even wonder how their home could look that good.    You don’t have to wait to sell your home to make it look better. Plus, clutter can physically and mentally stress us out. By breaking your de-cluttering down into five-minute sessions, you can slowly conquer your clutter. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits offers some ways to start:

  • Designate a spot for incoming papers, and don’t put them anywhere but that spot until you can sort and file them.
  • Clear one area and designate it your “no-clutter” zone. There is one rule for that area: Nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put way. Once you have that, expand to more areas.
  • Pick up five things and find places for them. These should be things you actually use, but which don’t have a good spot to live.
  • Pull everything out of a drawer, evaluate it and sort it into three piles: stuff that really goes in the drawer, stuff that belongs elsewhere and stuff to ditch.
  • Create a “maybe” box. When you’re organizing, you often know exactly which items you want to keep and which you can trash or donate. But sometimes there are items you can’t trash, and yet you’re not sure what to do with them. Put them in the “maybe” box and pull it out every six months to re-evaluate.
  • Keep it going: After you’ve de-cluttered, don’t get tempted to buy new things. Instead, create a 30-day list and put any non-essential items you want to buy on it along with the date. If an item has sat on the list for 30 days and you still want to buy it, you can.

SAVE BY SAVING:

You don’t have to overhaul your home to make it more energy efficient. And you also don’t have to guess at which projects offer the best ROI:  ENERGY STAR®-certified windows can shrink energy bills by an average of 12 percent.  Fix common water leaks to reduce energy bills by 10 percent. Turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from where you normally set it for eight hours a day (while you’re at work or while you sleep) reduces your heating and cooling costs by 10 percent a year. Reducing the target temperature of your water heater can save 3 to 5 percent of energy costs.

To D.I.Y. or not to D.I.Y.?

Doing home projects yourself can help you save money, help you get to know your house better and fill you with pride at a job well done with your own two hands. But there are circumstances where a pro is the way to go. Neighborly, a community of home service experts, draws the line on three common projects:

 Safe to D.I.Y.:  Patching drywall: Homeowners can easily cover nail holes in their walls. Make sure the wall is clean and spackle the hole. Sand the spackle down and clean the area with a damp sponge. 

Call In A Pro: . Too much spackle or too big of a hole: If a hole in the drywall is larger than a nail hole or has been spackled repeatedly previously, it’s best for an expert to repair the damage. 

Safe to D.I.Y.: Cleaning the air conditioner condenser unit: Cleaning is essential for an efficient and healthy air conditioning system. Check the filters and change it when necessary. This will ensure the air in the home is clean and the unit isn’t working any harder than it must.

Call In A Pro: Repairing or replacing any HVAC unit: HVAC units are technical, use a large amount of voltage electricity and require the use of specialized tools, so these jobs are best tackled by the pros.

 Safe to D.I.Y.: Repairing plumbing hardware: Items like seals, chains or clogs can become faulty or quit working, but they can be easily replaced. If the toilet feels wobbly or the seat comes loose, there are D.I.Y. kits available at local hardware stores that include necessary tools and parts to repair.   

Call In A Pro: Remodeling renovations that require plumbing alterations: Permits are often needed to move or expand plumbing. A professional will be familiar with the local handling of permits and building codes. A plumber will examine the current plumbing to ensure connections are done properly and correctly.   

                                        

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.                                     

  SAY YES TO CRS…….

А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Watts_7025-Edit

 803-370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME!

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

 


Your Home Newsletter May/June 2017

Tips and trends for homeowners, buyers and sellers

ROI IS KING

Every smart homeowner knows that major—or even minor—remodeling projects should be undertaken with one eye on design and the other on the ROI. You want to be comfortable with whatever return on investment you receive for upgrading your home because, unfortunately, many upgrades won’t entirely recoup their cost upon sale. But the use you get out of the home with the upgrade might still make the construction worthwhile, regardless of the ultimate selling price. Here’s the top 10 remodeling projects that provide the best return on investment nationally.

RANKING PROJECT COST     RECOUPED AVERAGE JOB COST RESALE VALUE
10 Add a family room 69.3 percent $89,566 $62,055
9 Finish the basement (cost estimate includes bar area, main room and bathroom) 70 percent $71,115 $49,768
8 Add a two-story addition (cost estimate includes adding a family room, bedroom and bathroom) 71.1 percent $176,108 $125,222
7 Add a wood deck (cost estimate includes built-in bench and planter) 71.5 percent $10,707 $7,652
6 Replace the siding 76.4 percent $14,518 $11,093
5 Replace the garage door 76.9 percent $1,749 $1,345
4 Complete a minor kitchen remodel (cost estimate includes new cabinet fronts and hardware, new energy-efficient appliances, laminate countertops, mid-priced sink and faucet, dingy floor replacement and wall paint)  

 

80.2 percent

 

 

$20,830

 

 

$16,699

3 Install a manufactured stone veneer (instead of vinyl siding) 89.4 percent $7,851 $7,019
2 Replace your entry door with a steel door 90.7 percent $1,413 $1,282
1 Add fiberglass attic insulation 107.7 percent $1,343 $1,446

 

PORCH OR DECK?  

Despite some homeowners’ desire for a nice outdoor eating space, decks have fallen in popularity in newly built homes. Meanwhile, the number of homes being built with porches is climbing.
A decade ago, 54 percent of new homes had porches, while now almost 64 per- cent do, according to the National Association of Home Builders. In 2008, deck popularity peaked at about 28 percent, and now it is down to 24 percent.
But, of course it depends on your market. In states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, nearly 90 percent of homes are built with porches, and in the mountain states, 75 percent have porches. In the northeast, 70 percent of homes are built with decks, so homeowners in that area certainly aren’t embracing the porch trend. In Texas, only 5 percent of homes have decks.
Want to know the specifics of your area before adding an outdoor space? Talk to a Certified Residential Specialist REALTOR® today.

 

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME?

PLEASE MENTION MY NAME.

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.  

 

safer selling  

You’ve decided to sell your home and naturally you want to sell it quickly, profitably and smoothly. To maximize your success, here are five common and costly mistakes to avoid when selling your home.

MISTAKE #1 Overlooking Repairs:  Making repairs before selling is a must. These include electrical issues, water damage, rotten or chipped flooring, or a leaky roof. Consider getting a pre-inspection to uncover necessary repairs that might spook buyers and cause them to lower their offer or back out of the deal.

MISTAKE #2Overpricing your home:  Buyers are going to compare a sale price to other homes in the area, so your home should be priced competitively. Make sure your REALTOR® provides a comparative market analysis to help establish a competitive price and has their own system for helping you price your home.

MISTAKE #3 Over-sharing with buyers:  Another costly mistake is having too much communication with potential buyers. You don’t want to give away too much information to potential buyers, which could be used later during a sale negotiation. Either make yourself scarce during showings or think carefully about what you disclose to buyers.

MISTAKE #4Poor staging:  Both a cluttered home and an empty home will be unappealing to buyers, so proper staging and curb appeal are important. A majority of buyers are shopping for homes online these days, so consider bringing in professional staging and photography services.

MISTAKE #5The wrong attitude:  Тhis includes both patience and setting expectations too high. Not every prospective buyer will submit a bid—some are just window-shopping or are interested in a nearby home. Remembering that browsers are part of the home-selling process will help keep disappointment at bay.

SAY YES TO CRS

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact a CRS today.

Certified

Residential Specialist

The Proven Path To Success


Your Home, Tips and Trends for Homeowners, Buyers and Sellers

Do you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling a home? Please mention my name.  I Love Referrals!

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER, MARCH/APRIL 2017

For many Americans, spring equals allergies. Itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion—it’s enough to make you want to skip the season altogether. But with these five steps from DIY Network, you can help reduce allergens in your home and find a brief respite.

➊  Remove clutter: Less stuff means fewer places for allergens to linger.

➋  Clean the air: A well-ventilated house is your first line of defense. Use HEPA filters in your air conditioning system, maintain the humidity at about 50 percent and keep your windows closed when pollen counts are highest in the early morning and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

➌ Clean the bathroom: Mold tends to gather there.

➍ Reduce dust-generators: Fabrics and carpeting create dust by breaking down fibers. Swap carpets out for washable throw rugs.

➎ Make smart landscaping decisions: Avoid planting trees such as maple, birch and ash, which have allergenic particles that can trigger discomfort.

EARLY BIRDS

Demand has pushed the spring selling season earlier, as buyers hope to beat the competition and secure a house early on. According to Realtor.com, the median age of property listings over the winter was four days fewer than last year. Despite the typical seasonal slowdown, inventory is picking up speed for this time of year.
Median list price typically reaches its lowest point mid-winter as well, but it remained level at $250,000, indicating that buyers are remaining persistent.
Buyers may also be reacting to mortgage rates, which rapidly climbed higher following the election, pushing buyers to secure a loan as soon as possible.
This is also a sign of continuing low inventory, which is creating higher home prices and shorter turnarounds for sales.
All signs point to this season shaping up to be a seller’s market.

SPRING things –  Spring is a great time to do a quick tune up of your home. Before things get busy for the summer, take a moment to make sure your home is humming along. Here’s a quick checklist of fixes to make now to save you time and money later.:

Interior

  •      Check seals around windows, doors and bathtubs
  •      Drain your water heater
  •      Check and fix leaky faucets
  •      Replace your HVAC filters
  •      Clean out your dryer vent
  •      Replace batteries in smoke detectors
  •      Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher
  •      Check basement walls for moisture or mold
  •      Vacuum refrigerator condenser coils

Exterior

  •      Inspect the roof
  •      Clean the gutters
  •      Wash window exteriors and check screens for repairs
  •      Check driveway and walks for repairs
  •      Inspect deck and patio for warped, molded or splintered boards
  •      Trim bushes and trees, or any vegetation near an air conditioning unit in particular
  •      Remove leaves and other debris from lawn
  •      Patch up your home’s paint job
  •      Look for cracks or weak spots along the lower section of the exterior

SAY YES TO CRS

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact a CRS today.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Barbara Watts

Barbara Watts, Team Watts, Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

(803) 370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

www.BarbaraWatts.com

 

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER JULY/AUGUST 2016

THE TOP 10 trendiest HOME FEATURES

Whether you’re thinking of selling soon or have an eye on remodeling with solid return-on-investment potential, think about which features make your home oh-so-desirable when it’s time to list. An analysis of the Realtor.com listings over the past five years found that the following items were listed most often, solidifying a venerable spot among buyers’ favorites:

  1. Fireplace
  2. Wood floor
  3. Carpet
  4. Granite counter
  5. Stainless steel appliances                                             
  6. Open floor plan
  7. Walk-in closet
  8. Formal dining room
  9. Vaulted ceiling
  10. Open kitchens

Do trends lose steam? Oak and cherry cabinets had a strong foothold in the cabinet marketplace but are no longer popular!

the energy audit math

You’ve heard of home energy audits or assessments. You may have even thought they sounded like a pretty good idea: A professional auditor comes to your house, assesses how much energy your home uses—and loses—and makes recommendations for steps you can take that will save you money over time. But you just haven’t pulled the trigger. Well, why not this year?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average energy audit saves homeowners between 5 and 30 percent off their energy bills each year. With the average household spending $2,060 on energy bills every year, according to EnergyStar, that means an audit could save between $103 and $618 annually. Over the years, those numbers really add up.

But an energy audit isn’t exactly cheap. According to HomeAdvisor, most average between $218 and $551. To save the upfront cost of hiring a pro, you could conduct an amateur version yourself by following the steps outlined at energy.gov. Typically this involves a visual inspection of any place two materials meet, electric outlets, doors, windows and a few other spots.

However, there are benefits to hiring a pro to perform a diagnostic test. Professional audits typically employ a blower test. A powerful fan mounts into the frame of an exterior door and pulls air out of the house, lowering air pressure inside, which then allows the outside air to flow in through all unsealed cracks and openings. This is a more thorough method of detecting leaks and can help the auditor offer better recommendations for ways to address your home’s energy inefficiencies. A professional may also be able to determine how useful your insulation is acting and other ways your home may be losing energy. If you want to hire a professional, try searching through the Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Services Network, resnet.us.

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD  

 Moving is hard: With all the logistical considerations of buying the home, closing, moving out of the old place and then into the new, unpacking and then getting settled, you might be too overwhelmed to actually get out and meet the neighbors. But nothing will make your new house feel like a home like knowing the area and the people around you. Here’s a few ways to get involved: look pretty attractive, but homeowners looking to take advantage should make sure they understand the following information first:

  • Get outside. Nothing is quite as easy or effective as showing your face in the neighborhood. Do some yardwork, take frequent strolls or take the kids (or the dog) to a nearby park.
  • Whether you can spare a few hours at your kids’ school, with a service group or at an animal shelter, volunteering will allow you to meet people while doing good. Try VolunteerMatch.org or contact your local municipality about opportunities.
  • Join a club. Try your local library, events listings for the area or com for groups that might share your interests.
  • Take a class. Community colleges, local art and music schools, fitness centers and libraries all offer classes that provide you with the ability to learn something new while networking with neighbors.
  • Get connected online. So much of our socializing is done online. Try searching for local Facebook pages or join Nextdoor.com, a social network dedicated to neighbors.

SAY YES TO CRS…….

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Watts_7025-Edit

803-370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME!

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

 

 

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER MAY/JUNE 2016

TIPS & TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS & SELLERS

EXTRA, yardage

Want to make better use of your outdoor space without spending a lot of money? Try these three simple tricks that can make all the difference between using your backyard and just looking at it. Romantic lighting can really add drama and whimsy to an otherwise dull outdoor space. Try stringing lights over a patio for a look that recalls street cafes and romantic restaurant patios. If you don’t have natural hanging spots for your lights to hook onto, install a simple, wood pole with a loop or hook screw on top. You can install the poles directly into the ground, or attach them onto your pre-existing railings or a heavy base.

  1. Potted trees and bushes can divide designated areas, provide shade in the summer heat and create privacy. Consider ‘skyrocket’ juniper trees, bamboo or arborvitae to start. You may want to ask your local plant center for ones that grow well in your area of the country and how they survive winter, if that is a consideration.
  2. Add a chimenea. If you live in a climate where it gets cooler at night and you want to extend the life of your patio a bit past its summer primetime, a simple, small chimenea. These are essentially firepits with a round, open belly and a thick pipe on top. The fires start quickly, and don’t get too hot or too big, and are more easily controlled than a traditional open fire pit.

TAP INTO YOUR HOMES VALUE

For years, homeowners were afraid of tapping into their home equity—and rightfully so, considering the downward trend of home values in markets across the country.

But since prices began rising in late 2012, many homeowners have recovered significant chunks of equity and are now starting to feel more comfortable tapping into that, particularly to make renovations and repairs that may ultimately increase the value of their homes.

This combination of rising equity, tight inventory and historically low interest rates make home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) look pretty attractive, but homeowners looking to take advantage should make sure they understand the following information first:

  • Does it have fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate and what is the rate?
  • What is the limit?
  • What are the terms of the draw period, when does it end and what are the terms thereafter? Particularly note how the monthly payment changes during and after this period.
  • Is the interest tax-deductible?

Savvy homeowners may want to check their credit beforehand at AnnualCreditReport.com to help determine what kind of terms they may get, and if there’s anything they can do improve their creditworthiness. Make sure your creditor walks you through the process so you completely understand the agreement.

SUMMER SECURITY

Summer is a care-free time: School’s out, the weather’s nice and vacations are planned. But that easy-going attitude can leave your house vulnerable, especially if you’re leaving it unattended for while you’re kicking back at the beach. You know the standard tricks—stop the mail, have a trusted neighbor on the lookout—but you don’t have to stop there.

Go for a smart home. A smart home set-up allows you to control lights, appliances, thermostat and security systems from your phone. So with the tap of a button you can turn the lights on and off from anywhere. Products differ, but simple starter kits are often available starting at around $100.

Fake your TV. Rather than leave your TV on, fake it, and utilize a product that mimics the light made from a real HDTV, including mimicking scene changes, fades and on-screen motion. These small devices start at around $20.

Install fake security cameras. A security camera can be a strong deterrent, but it is expensive. Fake ones, however, are quite cheap, as little as $10.

Get a sophisticated light timer. Plugging your lights into a timer is the age-old burglar deterrent, which means that determined burglars are wise to this trick. So make sure your timer either turns the lights on and off at random, or allows you to program separate times for each day of the week.

Activate a barking dog. Although a little more expensive, several products allow you to mimic the sound of a barking dog as someone approaches the home. Attached to a motion sensor, the “dog” will start barking if someone is near the home and get louder and more persistent as the person gets closer.Potted trees and bushes can divide designated areas, provide shade in the summer heat and create privacy. Consider ‘skyrocket’ juniper trees, bamboo or arborvitae to start. You may want to ask your local plant center for ones that grow well in your area of the country and how they survive winter, if that is a consideration.

SAY YES TO CRS…….

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Watts_7025-Edit

803-370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME!

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

 

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER MARCH/APRIL 2016

TIPS & TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS & SELLERS

     SAVE   ME,   SUPER   KITCHEN

Kitchens have come a long way from linoleum floors and olive-colored appliances that our grandparents had. Today’s kitchens are super-sized and designed for multiple purposes. Sixty-nine percent of owners use their kitchen space for dining, while 49 percent use it for entertaining and 43 percent for socializing, according to a recent survey of homeowners by Houzz. The kitchen has become the hub for family activities, such as doing homework, watching TV and reading. Nearly two-thirds of homeowners spend more than three hours a day in their kitchens.

Therefore, today’s homeowners are not skimping on renovations. Nearly one-third of homeowners surveyed spent between $25,000 and $50,000 on kitchen renovations and another third spent more than $50,000.

Features that are typically part of living and dining rooms, such as dining tables, chandeliers, TVs and workspaces, are being added to kitchens. Wine refrigerators and built-in coffee stations are popular for entertaining, while custom cabinetry and hardwood floors integrate more seamlessly with the home’s overall design.

As the modern kitchen has continued to evolve, several design trends have emerged:

  • Black and bronze finishes on stainless steel appliances contribute a sleek, modern look.
  • Deep kitchen drawers help organize dishes and pans.
  • Niche appliances, from steam ovens, warming drawers and induction cooktops, add luxury and practicality.
  • Kitchen islands with more workspace and storage, prep sinks and seating are the workhorse of the home.
  • Unexpected combinations of backsplash and countertop finishes can spice up kitchen décor — for example, a brick backsplash with concrete countertops or yellow ceramic tile with butcher block.

The modern “super kitchen” not only improves flow, storage and aesthetics, it also supports family life with style and substance.

 

RENTAL PATIENCE

Homeowners who need to move but are struggling to sell their homes are turning to rent-to-own agreements to find prospective buyers. Under these leasing options, which can last from two to five years, owners allow a prospective buyer to move into the home and pay monthly rent. A portion of the rent is set aside to be used as a down payment on the house at a later date.
Financial experts at Bankrate.com say credit-challenged renters have the chance to try out the house and neighborhood, while saving for a down payment and building up good credit. They can also lock in a sales price and terms upfront.
The set-up helps homeowners find an eager buyer and long-term renter who can provide a steady income while caring for the house on the owner’s behalf. The downside is the possibility that the renter could change their mind and opt out of the agreement, which means the owner must start the process over again.
Rent-to-own arrangements are complex and every state has its own regulations, so it’s advisable for renters to meet with an attorney and a real estate agent to understand financial implications.

Renters should also meet with a mortgage broker so they know how much they need to qualify for a loan.
Financial experts say both parties should treat the deal the same way as a home purchase. Obtain an appraisal and a home inspection, and owners should require a security deposit and reserve the right to evict renters if they fail to make payments. The contract should also spell out how funds will be held by owners, under what conditions the sale will take place, and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

With proper planning and due diligence, rent-to-own arrangements can be a viable option for buyers and sellers.

 

WALK on wood

Hardwood flooring is one of the most sought-after features in new and existing homes. This eco-friendly feature can turn your home into a warm and inviting space to relax and entertain. Selecting the right flooring can be a challenge, however, depending on your design style, budget and personal preference. Before choosing a wood floor for your home, here are a few things to keep in mind, courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association:

     There are two basic types of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times and can be used in all rooms, including kitchens and powder rooms. Engineered wood is manufactured with multiple layers of wood veneers, so it expands and contracts less than solid wood flooring when temperatures and humidity fluctuate. Engineered wood is a better alternative for basements and other below-ground living areas.

     Hardwood floors come in different finishes. Satin gloss offers the most shine and reflects the most light, so scratches and normal wear and tear are less noticeable, while matte finishes offer the least shine.

     Light woods like ash or maple help make a room appear more open and airy, while darker woods like walnut or mahogany can give a room a more stately and refined appearance.

To keep floors looking new, clean them frequently using a dust mop or vacuum. Avoid using a wet mop as water can dull the finish or damage the wood over time. To prevent scratches, place scatter rugs at all entrances and floor protector pads on the bottom of furniture legs.

     When spills occur, wipe them immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. When floors begin to look dull, use a wood flooring cleaner to renew the luster. Use only products that are compatible with your wood floor type. The wrong cleaning product can damage the finish and possibly the wood itself.

     With these simple tips in mind, hardwood floors can provide comfort and enjoyment for many years.

SAY YES TO CRS…….

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Watts_7025-Edit

803-370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME!

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

 

 

 

 

Your Home Newsletter February 2016

TIPS & TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS & SELLERS

ACCESSORIZE   IT

If your home décor seems stuck in a rut, updating your accessories can bring more spice to your living space. When accessorizing your home, follow these simple tips and tricks from HGTV and HouseBeautiful.com.

  • Highlight a few favorite accessories at one time. While it’s fun to collect different styles of pillows, artwork and collectibles, displaying them all at one time can overwhelm the room. Try showing only 20 percent of your prized accessories at a given time and change them regularly throughout the year.
  • Highlight a focal point in the room. Perhaps you have a uniquely designed fireplace mantel or a treasured area rug that you want to showcase. Select a piece of artwork to complement the rug, or display a few photographs or your favorite figurines along the mantel.
  • Choose a color scheme and theme. Before buying accessories, decide on one or two colors that will add visual interest to each room and complement your furniture and wall colors. If your furniture and walls are neutral, choose bold colors for your accessories to create a vibrant look. Accessories can also play up a theme of a room.
  • Group similar items. To create a consistent, balanced look, display accessories in small groupings. Some designers work by the rule of three. For example, a trio of matching mirrors lined up on the wall with a contrasting background can provide a dramatic focal point.
  • Light up your space. Create instant impact by choosing light fixtures that complement the design style of the room. To create a certain mood, use wall sconces, an extravagant chandelier or recessed lighting. With the right accessories, your home can go from ­­stale to stunning in no time.

NO MORE CLOSING SURPRISES

  • Thanks to new mortgage disclosure guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that became effective October 3, 2015, homebuyers can expect a more seamless closing process and fewer headaches at the closing table. The new rules simplify the loan paper-work so buyers understand exactly what they owe. Buyers can expect to receive two documents during the sales process — a loan estimate and a closing disclosure form, which are intended to be more transparent and could save them money on hidden costs and small-print fees that they might other-wise miss. The loan estimate details the transaction, including the estimated loan and closing costs. Consumers can use this form to do an apples-to-apples comparison when shopping for home loans. The closing disclosure form, which details the final transaction, is provided to buyers three days before closing so they can confirm whether they are getting what they expected and negotiate any changes. The two documents mirror each other, making it easy to compare estimates with final loan terms. Because of the strict timing rules lenders must follow, it’s important that buyers provide lenders with all the information they need to process their loan applications quickly. A qualified real estate professional can help ensure that all paperwork and negotiations with the seller are completed in a timely fashion.
  • For more information and to see samples of these forms, visit the CFPB’s website, consumerfinance.gov.

H O M E    W O R K

According to a recent study by Telework Research Network, 30 million people work from home at least once a week, and that number is expected to grow by 63 percent over the next five years. While dedicating an entire room for a home office is ideal, it’s not always practical. With smaller laptops and office furnishings and Wi-Fi connections, work areas can be set up anywhere in the home. Before setting up a workspace at home, here are a few ideas to consider.

Adequate storage. Storage solutions don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but they do need to be tailored to hold everything you need, including reference books, office supplies and files.

Reliable power. Many older homes may not have sufficient power or may lack grounded outlets. An electrician can do a wiring inspection and upgrade outlets and circuits as needed. A strong Internet connection is also important. Make sure your DSL or cable modem is functioning well and can handle a demanding workload

Sufficient lighting. Tasks like reading or drafting require lighting that shines directly on the work. For task lighting, use energy-efficient, long-lasting LEDs and a dimmer switch to control levels.

Work surface. The type of work you do will determine the size of work surface you need. A longer, wider area is better for spreading out papers, while a smaller desk may work best for reading documents and making phone calls. If you use a printer every day, place it within easy reach.

Seating. If you sit for long periods, invest in an ergonomic chair. Though it may cost more, it can provide better comfort and support for your back.

SAY YES TO CRS…….

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

Watts_7025-Edit

803-370-0876

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

TIPS & TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS & SELLERS

WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS

No matter where you live, emergencies are bound to happen when you least expect them: the furnacebreaks down, appliances stop working, the roof starts leaking or a window gets smashed. The costs for repairs can be tough to stomach, unless you have an emergency fund. Setting up an emergency fund is easier than you think. These tips from Bankrate.com will help you handle unexpected surprises with ease.

  • First, estimate how much money you might need for the fund. Experts suggest saving enough to cover four to seven months of expenses. Remember, this fund should not replace your entire income, and it should not be used to fund luxuries, like vacations, fancy new clothes or a new car (unless your existing one breaks down). Keep funds accessible, but not so readily available that you aretempted to borrow from it. Set up an account separate from your regular checking account. Consider using credit unions, which allow consumers to open accounts with smaller sums of cash, and online banks, so you can’t withdraw money from a storefront location. Set up automatic deposit or transfers, so you know for sure that money will be saved each month and the fund will grow steadily, with lit­tle effort on your part.
  • Be sure to use the funds only for emergencies, such as replacing broken appliances, replacing the furnace or paying your regular monthly expenses after a job layoff or during a lengthy illness.
  • Begin slowly. Start with a deposit of $50 from each paycheck, then increase it gradually with each job change or pay increase. Set aside a portion of commission checks and tax refunds, too.

With these simple steps, you’ll have greater peace of mind, knowing you are prepared for any emergency.

POISON CONTROL

Kids are naturally curious about their surroundings. But sometimes they can get into things that are dangerous and even deadly. Safe Kids Worldwide, a global not-for-profit group, provides several tips for keeping children safe in their own homes. Following these simple steps can help keep kids out of harm’s way, giving you peace of mind.

  1. Store all household products out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, so any items located there should be moved to a place they cannot reach. Install child safety locks on cabinets where hazardous items are stored.
  2. Read product labels carefully to find out if the item is harmful to kids. The most dangerous items include makeup, personal care products, plants, pesticides, lead, art supplies, alcohol and carbon monoxide.
  3. Don’t leave hazardous products unattended while in use.
  4. Keep cleaning products in their original containers, and never put a potentially dangerous product in something other than its original packaging, such as a plastic soda bottle, where it could be mistaken for something else.
  5. Check your garage, basement and other storage areas for any cleaning supplies you no longer need and discard them.
  6. Check your purse for any medications or makeup that could pose a danger, and store handbags out of reach. Keep all medications and vitamins stored where children cannot reach them, and always put medicines away after every use.
  7. If a child has been poisoned, call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222, which offers fast, free, confidential help in English and Spanish. If the child has collapsed, call 911 immediately.
  8. Install a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.

SHOPPING FOR GREEN

Today’s buyers are more concerned than ever about living green, and that means finding an ecofriendly home. How do you know the home you want is truly green?

Green means different things to different people. Buyers focused on energy cost savings prefer homes that have basic energy-efficient features, such as Energy Star appliances, weatherproofed windows and good insulation. Buyers concerned about personal health issues prefer homes that use non-toxic materials, such as low VOC paints and bamboo flooring. Still other buyers want to contribute to a more sustainable future. They look for building materials that are produced locally or use reclaimed wood.

At the most basic level, Energy Star appliances, double-paned windows and efficient heating and cooling systems can lower energy bills and give buyers peace of mind.

    Other factors to consider include:

  • Expect to pay more for a green home. A recent study by the University of California finds that green-certified, single family homes sold for 9 percent more than a comparable home that wasn’t green.
  • Square footage. The larger the home, the more energy it consumes. Buying a smaller home is more economical.
  • Use water-based paints that contain lower levels of VOCs than conventional oil-based paints. VOCs emit gases that can cause health issues.
  • Carpeting/flooring. Choose carpeting made from recycled or renewable materials. For wood flooring, bamboo or reclaimed wood are popular choices.
  • Review past utility bills to determine typical monthly energy costs. Also request documentation on any green features that have been added to the property.
  • Choose plants and trees that don’t require the same level of maintenance as a lawn.

If in doubt, ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more  confident you will be that you are getting a truly green home.

SAY YES TO CRS…….

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact The Watts Team today.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

Dale, Megan, Barbara Century 21 First Choice Realtors

Dale, Megan, Barbara

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

Century 21 First Choice Realtors

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER JULY/AUGUST 2014

Tips and trends for homeowners, buyers and sellers

THE GREAT outdoors

    If you’re thinking about taking a late summer trip with your friends or family, camping offers an affordable and fun option. It not only gives everyone a chance to unplug from their devices and spend some time focusing on each other and nature, but it has even been shown to help children deal with stress and decrease restlessness. This advice from Parents.com will help ensure your camping trip is fun and safe.
No campsite is complete without a fire, so get your whole family involved by sending them to collect wood. Smaller children can help by picking up small sticks and twigs or bark, while teens and adults can collect larger logs to be used as fuel.
Once the fire is roaring, you’re going to want to cook up some fun and delicious campfire treats. Beyond the classic s’mores, try skewering an unpeeled banana and cooking it on the fire the same way you would marshmallows. Once it’s soft, slice it down the middle, add your own treats like chocolate chips, and use a spoon to eat it. Quesadillas are another easy option: just wrap the uncooked quesadilla in foil and throw it in a cast iron pan or directly on the grill.
Of course, any time you’re in the wilderness and around fire, there is a chance for injury. Make sure you’re prepared to deal with these situations when they arise by packing an emergency supply kit. Include key items in the such as first-aid supplies, blankets, batteries, water, medication, flashlight, maps, and a compass or GPS.

CLEANING HOUSE

While cleaning may be one of the last things on your mind when you’re out in the sun having fun this summer, that doesn’t mean you can’t still take some steps to spruce up your house and prepare yourself for fall. With the following tips from Organizedhome.com, you can make your summer more pleasant and ensure the transition to fall goes smoothly.

Easy opening: You’ll be opening and closing sliding doors in your home many times this summer, and if the tracks are dirty, they’ll be more difficult to open. Using a degreasing all-purpose cleaner and a screwdriver covered with a rag, you can eliminate the grit. Simply spray the cleaner into the track, let it sit for a few minutes, and then run the rag through the track to pick up the dirt.

Stop the smell: When it’s really hot outside, a garbage can’s smell can get out of control. To neutralize this, clean the inside of your garbage can by rinsing it with a hose, spraying it with disinfectant and then repeating. Leave it upside down to dry and once you’re done, and use trash bags or liners to keep the inside of the can from retaining odor.

Take advantage of the season: Maintenance and cleaning businesses — like carpet cleaners, gutter services and window washers — are slow in the summer, so look for discounts on these services. Summer is not as busy for the furnace business, so scheduling maintenance for your HVAC system is a great idea. It’s easier to get the serviceman to your house, and you’ll be well prepared for the first cold fall night.

A MOVING experience

Moving is often a stressful experience, even when it goes well. While you may never have a great time boxing up your possessions and moving them to a new place, there are certainly steps you can take to make the experience as easy as possible. Here are a few tips from Styleathome.com that can help you save time and reduce your stress when moving.

CHOOSE WISELY: You will want to make sure whatever transportation you choose has enough room for all of your things, especially if the move is far enough that you only want to make one trip. Generally, the contents of a one-bedroom apartment will fit in a 16-foot cube truck, while two or three bedrooms usually fit in a 24- or 26-foot truck. If you’re moving a full house, you can also use a 24- or 26-foot truck, but if you have a lot of possessions, it might require two trips.

MAKE A PLAN: Before you put anything in a box or contact movers, create an itemized list of everything that should be done and follow it as you go. This will make the move easier for yourself and others who are helping you. If you’re using movers, you should also make an inventory as you pack, and check it when you unpack to make sure none of your items were lost.

COMMUNICATE: Once you have a plan, make sure your movers are aware of your requirements. The more information they have about the situation, the less time they will require and the more prepared they will be. If you’re moving into a condo or apartment, ask your landlord or building supervisor if there is anything you should know about moving into the building. For example, condos often have service elevators you can reserve for the move.

SAY YES TO CRS

Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.  А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.

Certified Residential Specialist

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME? PLEASE MENTION MY NAME.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

Dale, Megan, Barbara Century 21 First Choice Realtors

Dale, Megan, Barbara
Century 21 First Choice
Realtors

803-802-7819

Results@BarbaraWatts.com

206 Rockmont Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708

[schoolsearch city=”Fort Mill” state=”SC” groupby=”gradelevel” output=”table”]

[lme-module module=”market-activity” zip=”29708″]

 

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER MARCH/APRIL 2014

TIPS AND TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS AND SELLERS

THE GREEN MILE

New light bulbs? Check. Thermostat lowered? Check. You’re working to be more energy-efficient, but how will you be green when it’s time to renovate or refresh your home? Learn what materials are good for the Earth — and even your health — with tips from Tree Hugger and the Environmental protection agency.

 

Paint Plus: Pick paint low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contain hazardous chemicals and are found in many household products. The standard for low-VOC is fewer than 250 grams per liter, and zero-VOC labels must have fewer than 5 grams per liter. Several brands offer a variety of colors and finishes, including Behr premium plus Enamel Low Luster, Benjamin Moore Natura, Old-Fashioned Milk paint, YOLO Colorhouse and Sherwin-Williams Harmony.

 

Floor Cure: Hardwood might last longer than carpet, which can contribute to poor air quality and end up in landfills. Find lumber salvaged from construction and renovation sites through online marketplaces such as PlanetReuse.com and  AmericanBuilderSurplus.com. Tile can be another green option (just use low-VOC adhesives and sealants). Bamboo is popular, too, but the shipping distance doesn’t make it the most sustainable choice.

 

Clean Scene: Look for cleaning products with labels that include “nontoxic,” “bio-degradable” and “made from renewable resources.” Or, try making your own. Vinegar and baking soda can be mixed with warm water to create an all-purpose cleaner. There are green housecleaning services, too.
SNEEZE THE DAY

Spring is prime time for itchy, watery eyes and never-ending sniffles. Do you or someone in your house have allergies? Get relief — in every room — with tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to allergy-proof your house.

Bedroom: Choose bedding that is made of synthetic materials, and wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets in warm water at least once a week. Comforters should be cleaned, too. While your laundry is in the wash, vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Keep the windows closed during pollen season, and turn on the air conditioning. Clean mold and condensation from the frames and sills. Washable curtains made of cotton or synthetic fabric are best.

Bathroom: Watch out for moisture and mold. Avoid carpet and wallpaper, and dry the tub after use.

Kitchen: Make sure there’s a vented exhaust fan above the stovetop hood to take out cooking fumes and reduce moisture. Keep up on dishes and clear the fridge of spoiled food regularly. Cleaning cabinets and counters will also go a long way toward keeping your allergies in check.
fast fact >> >> >> 16.9 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with  hay fever in the past year. 

Source: CDC
MOW TIME
Don’t let the grass grow under your feet this season. For a healthy-looking yard, now’s the time to get started. Take a page from HGTV’s lawn care handbook with these tips.
  First, clear the weeds and roots and rototill 6 inches below ground. This will help prepare the area to include equal parts loam, sand and topsoil. During this time, create a slight slope to help with drainage.
  If sod is not in your budget, the next step is to hand-seed or hydroseed (a technique that spreads the seeds evenly). Choose the grass seed that is right for your climate and how you will use the lawn.
  When it’s time to cut the grass, set the mower to the highest notch that only mows the top third. This helps with root development and prevents the ground from drying out too quickly.
  Then, get out the hose. If you just seeded, water every day for five to 10 minutes. After new grass comes up, water once a day for 15 to 20 minutes. Consider your soil type to figure out how much.
  Twice a year, in spring and fall, fertilize.
Say Yes to CRS
Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REАLTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.
  А Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace.
  To earn the CRS Designation, REАLTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NАTIONАL АSSOCIАTION OF REАLTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.
  Work with a REАLTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact a CRS today.
DID YOU KNOW?  Americans in 2013 planned to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green (84 percent), decorating their home or office (23.3 percent) and making a special dinner (34.6 percent).
Source: National Retail Federation
Certified Residential SpecialistBROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS
TEAM WATTS
REALTORS, NC/SC
CENTURY 21 FIRST CHOICE
206 ROCKMONT DRIVE
FORT MILL, SC 29708
803-370-0876
RESULTS@BARBARAWATTS.COM