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.