Key Traits of a Buyer’s Market

For homebuyers, there may be nothing better than searching for a house in a buyer’s market. Typically, a buyer’s market is defined by several key characteristics, including:

1. Shortage of Homebuyers

In a seller’s market, competition among homebuyers remains fierce. Therefore, a homebuyer may be forced to compete against several homebuyers to secure his or her dream home.

Comparatively, a buyer’s market features a shortage of homebuyers, resulting in less competition for quality residences. As a homebuyer, this is ideal because it means that you may be able to improve your chances of securing a great house at a price that matches your budget.

If you’re a homebuyer in a buyer’s market, the ball is in your court. As such, you should take your time exploring the housing market and find a residence that suits your budget and lifestyle perfectly. By doing so, you likely will be able to secure your dream home without having to worry about the stress of competing against other homebuyers or exceeding your budget.

2. Abundance of Home Sellers

A buyer’s market may be a tough time for home sellers. At this time, there may be many homes available, and home sellers might need to reduce the prices of their residences to stir up interest.

Meanwhile, an abundance of home sellers ensures there is a large supply of homes available. This may make it easier for a homebuyer to check out many terrific homes and find one at a below-average price.

Although a buyer’s market presents many opportunities for homebuyers, it is important to avoid taking shortcuts. Instead, a homebuyer should devote ample time and resources to assess homes that meet his or her criteria and respond accordingly.

Furthermore, homebuyers should avoid the temptation to submit a lowball offer on a residence – even in a buyer’s market. If you submit an offer that falls below a home seller’s expectations, you may miss out on the chance to acquire your dream home altogether.

3. Steady Supply of Real Estate Agents

When it comes to shopping for a home in a buyer’s market, working with a real estate agent is a great idea. A real estate agent can provide you with plenty of information about first-rate residences that you can enjoy for years to come. Plus, a real estate professional may be able to offer insights into a home that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere, making it simple for you to purchase a top-notch home at a bargain price.

Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent can offer recommendations throughout the homebuying journey. He or she also will be able to respond to any concerns or questions you have, ensuring you can remain calm, cool and collected as you transition from homebuyer to homeowner.

Employ a real estate agent to guide you along the homebuying journey in a buyer’s or seller’s market. With a real estate professional at your side, you can navigate the challenges of the real estate market and secure your dream house without delay.

New Windows Can Provide Comfort and Savings

While some home improvement projects are done purely for aesthetic reasons, window replacement projects offer a wide range of benefits.

If your current windows are decades old, they’re probably difficult to clean, provide poor insulation, and get stuck every time you try to raise or lower them.

Old wooden window frames also tend to deteriorate over time, which negatively impacts both their appearance and their ability to seal out drafts and outdoor temperatures.

Modern, energy-efficient windows make older models look like they’re straight out of the Stone Age! Many windows manufactured today meet strict U.S. government standards for energy efficiency and durability, which can help you save money on your home energy bills. These new features include multiple panes of glass, which provide improved insulation and impact resistance. Instead of using just plain air, many of these advanced windows are insulated with non-toxic gases, such as argon and krypton. (As long as you’re not Superman, you’ll do just fine!) If you’re willing to pay extra, there’s also the option of having mini-blinds inserted between the panes of glass.

Reducing Home Energy Costs

According to the EPA, “Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house’s carbon footprint.”

Energy Star-certified windows also have special coatings that reflect both infrared and ultraviolet light. That not only helps keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, but it helps stop the sun’s rays from fading furniture colors, flooring, and other materials.

Some of the newer windows are available with three or more layers of glass panes, which can help make your home more comfortable and quieter. If external noise is an issue, installing well-insulated windows with multiple panes can reduce that problem significantly.

Although many of the new window products are constructed of wood, they’re often covered with vinyl or aluminum to be more weather resistant and durable. Fiberglass is another low-maintenance, durable material that offers good insulation qualities.

Cost Versus Benefits

While a window replacement project can take a big chunk out of your home improvement budget or bank account, it does provide a return on your investment. In addition to the fact that your home energy costs should decrease, installing new, energy-efficient windows will improve your home’s marketability in the future. If and when you decide to put your home on the market, the fact that you’ve installed energy-efficient, easy-to-use window replacements will be a major selling point in the minds of prospective buyers.

As is the case with all home improvement contractors, it’s always a good idea to get several estimates and check references, read online reviews, and take a look at Better Business Bureau ratings before choosing someone to handle the project.

Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Moving Company

If you recently bought or sold a house, it may be only a matter of weeks before moving day arrives. As such, you may want to start planning ahead and contact a moving company to help you prepare for the big day.

Ultimately, not all moving companies are created equal. And if you make a poor selection, you risk encountering problems with your moving company as you try to take your belongings from one address to another.

Differentiating one moving company from another can be simple. In fact, there are several questions that you should consider before you hire a moving company, and these are:

1. What do I need from a moving company?

Moving from a big house to a small one is very different than relocating from an apartment to a home. Thus, you should consider your moving day needs and tailor your search for a moving company accordingly.

Don’t forget to evaluate your moving day budget too. If you consider how much money is at your disposal, you can map out a search for a mover and discover a moving company that falls within your price range.

2. What services does a moving company offer?

Many moving companies will help you pack up your belongings, move them to your new address and help you unpack. Comparatively, some moving companies only offer limited support on moving day.

Think about which moving day services you’ll need before you choose a moving company – you’ll be glad you did. If you know what you want out of a moving company, you can narrow your search and quickly find a mover that will match or exceed your expectations.

3. What are past clients saying about a moving company?

Oftentimes, it helps to look at client reviews for moving companies. These insights can help you understand what it is like to work with a particular moving company before you make your final decision.

If customers frequently rave about a moving company, this is a positive sign. In this instance, you may want to move quickly to hire a moving company for your upcoming relocation.

On the other hand, a moving company that receives many negative reviews should raise red flags. If most customers are not satisfied with the support they receive from a particular moving company, you may want to consider other movers.

Finding the right moving company may seem difficult, particularly for individuals who have only a limited amount of time to relocate. But if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you may be able to discover the ideal moving company in no time at all.

In addition to helping you buy or sell a home, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to enjoy a seamless move. A real estate agent likely can put you in touch with the top moving companies in your area. As a result, a real estate agent can help you find a great moving company, regardless of when you need to relocate.

Best Practices for Packing Small Kitchen Appliances

Need to relocate from one address to another? In all likelihood, you’ll need to pack a variety of small kitchen appliances before moving day arrives. Luckily, we’re here to teach you what it takes to safely and effectively pack up your microwave, toaster and other small kitchen appliances.

Now, let’s take a look at three best practices for packing small kitchen appliances.

1. Clean and Disassemble Your Appliances

Before you start packing, spend some time cleaning your small kitchen appliances. This will ensure your appliances are neat and tidy prior to storing them in assorted moving boxes.

Unplug a kitchen appliance prior to cleaning. Then, allocate the necessary time and resources to wipe down your appliance’s interior and exterior. After you clean your kitchen appliances, make sure they are completely dry before you pack them.

In addition, remove any loose parts from your small kitchen appliances. This will allow you to secure all associated appliance components in moving boxes.

2. Choose an Appropriate Moving Box

If possible, use a small kitchen appliance’s original box for moving day. The appliance will fit perfectly in this box, thereby reducing the risk of damage while your appliance is in transit.

For those who failed to save the original boxes for their appliances, there is no need to worry. You can purchase moving boxes in a wide range of sizes, ensuring you can find a moving box that will hold any small kitchen appliance.

In most instances, small and medium-sized moving boxes are ideal for myriad kitchen appliances. Use plenty of packing or sealing tape on the bottom of these moving boxes to ensure the boxes won’t fall apart. Also, prepare these moving boxes with packing paper to further protect your small kitchen appliances.

3. Wrap Your Appliances in Bubble Wrap or Packing Paper

When it comes to small kitchen appliances, it always is better to err on the side of caution. Therefore, you should wrap each of these appliances in bubble wrap or packing paper and secure it with packing tape. This will help you minimize the risk that the appliance will get damaged during your move.

If you need extra help with moving small kitchen appliances or other items, it never hurts to reach out to a professional moving company for assistance, either. This moving company will learn about your moving needs and help you plan accordingly.

Lastly, if you require assistance with buying or selling a house, it pays to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying or home selling journey. Furthermore, if you are uncertain about the best ways to prepare for moving day, a real estate agent can offer expert recommendations.

Take the guesswork out of packing your small kitchen appliances – use the aforementioned best practices, and you should have no trouble getting your small kitchen appliances packed up and ready to go for moving day.

How To Find Art For Your Home Like An Adult

Decorating your home as an adult can be a taxing task. Transitioning from a college student to a professional can take some time. Once you buy your first home, you may find that your tastes for decorating need an upgrade. Those old posters and funny magnets have got to go along with your more sophisticated lifestyle. The decor in your home should make you feel comfortable in your surroundings. You should express your own personal interests through the artwork that’s displayed in your home. 

Pieces of artwork shouldn’t just be run-of-the-mill. You need something that will let your personality shine through. You can collect unique pieces in your travels, use personal photographs that you have taken, or simply find things that have meaning for you.

It can be sort of intimidating to dive into a more mature way of decorating but, it can be very rewarding. You’ll also learn a lot about your own style and yourself. Through this self-discovery, you’ll find artwork that you can continue to grow with in your home. Below, you’ll find some tips for choosing the right artwork for your home. 

Set A Budget

Buying artwork can be an investment. If you’re a new homeowner, you may need to hold back on getting expensive art for a few years. Set a limit for how much art you want to buy and what you can afford. There are plenty of ways to get decorating pieces for your home for less money. Many stores offer artwork that can add some character to your walls. Even if these aren’t Picasso originals, they can certainly add some flair to the emptiness of a new house. Everything that adds personality to your home isn’t hanging on a wall either. Your decor includes the small figures on your tables, statues, plants, and more.  

Have Goals In Mind

If you begin hanging artwork without some reason, your decorating scheme could end up being a disaster. Map out a plan for each room. Think of themes, colors palettes, and the vision for the space. You don’t want to make a serious investment in artwork only to find out that it doesn’t fit with your wall color or furniture. When choosing artwork, it’s important to consider each room as a whole. 

Know That Tastes Change Over Time 

If you do invest in an expensive piece of artwork, know that it may not suit your needs forever. That’s OK! You can always sell artwork and find replacement pieces over time. It’s not expected that whatever you hang in your home when you move in will stay there for the next 20 years! Artwork very much flows with our lives, so go with the flow.              

3 Moving Tips for Home Sellers

Selling your home and relocating to a new residence may seem difficult. Fortunately, we’re here to help you take the guesswork out of packing up your belongings and moving to your new house.

Here are three moving tips that every home seller needs to know.

1. Make Reservations with a Moving Company.

After you sell your house, you’ll want to make reservations with a moving company as soon as possible. By doing so, you’ll be able to ensure that you can get movers to your house before you need to have all of your belongings out of your residence.

Remember, the longer you wait to book a moving company, the less likely it becomes that you’ll be able to find one in time for your upcoming move. But if you take a proactive approach to your move, you’ll be able to book a moving company with plenty of time to spare.

Don’t forget to shop around for a moving company too. This will ensure that you won’t have to break your budget to employ friendly, professionally trained movers to help you transport your belongings from Point A to Point B.

2. Clean Out Every Room in Your House.

Although you’ve already devoted plenty of time and resources to keep your home clean and neat as you tried to sell it, you’ll want to conduct a final sweep of every room before you move.

Cleaning out your entire home will enable you to double-check to ensure that you’ve packed up everything and reduce the risk that you’ll leave something behind. Plus, doing a final sweep will enable you to locate and get rid of any forgotten items that you won’t need at your new address.

Spend some time cleaning out your home, and ultimately, you’ll be better equipped to pack up all of your belongings and avoid the risk of forgetting items hidden in your attic, basement or other areas of your house.

3. Disconnect All of Your Home Services.

Contact your electric utility provider, phone and internet services provider and other utility services companies to inform them about your upcoming relocation. This will enable you to cancel services or transfer them to your new address.

When it comes to disconnecting services, be sure to give your service provider as much notice as possible. For instance, calling your internet services provider to cancel your services on the day of your move could be problematic, as you may need to return equipment.

However, if you reach out to a service provider at least a few weeks before your move, you can plan accordingly.

Furthermore, if you ever have concerns or questions about moving, your real estate agent may be able to help you. This professional can offer moving recommendations and tips and might even be able to put you in touch with expert movers in your area as well.

Start getting ready for your upcoming move now, and you can streamline the process of vacating your current residence and relocating to a new house.

Set Up Your Home for a Quick Sale

Who says a home seller should be forced to wait many weeks or months to sell his or her residence? Instead, devote the time and resources to get your home ready for the real estate market today, and you can boost your chances of a quick home sale.

Ultimately, there are many ways to set up your residence for a quick sale, including:

1. Establish a Competitive Price

The first 30 days your home is available on the housing market are critical. But if you establish a competitive home price from the get-go, your house could sell just days after it hits the market.

To determine the right price for your home, you’ll first want to evaluate the prices of residences similar to your own. By doing so, you’ll be able to assess your house relative to the competition and set a fair price for your residence.

Also, consider how homebuyers may evaluate your residence when they first see it. If you examine the homebuyer’s perspective, you’ll be better equipped to understand your house’s strengths and weaknesses and establish the right price for your home.

2. Focus on Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

What does a homebuyer think of your residence when he or she views your house for the first time? Your house’s curb appeal may impact your ability to enjoy the benefits of a quick home sale. If you spend some time enhancing your residence’s curb appeal, however, you may be able to speed up the home selling process.

Simple home exterior improvements such as mowing the lawn and painting the front door could make a world of difference for home sellers. These enhancements may help your residence stand out from the competition and enable your house to generate widespread interest in no time at all.

3. Declutter and Depersonalize Your Home

Make it easy for homebuyers to envision what life would be like if they purchased your home by decluttering and depersonalizing your residence.

Taking down family photographs and putting away personal belongings may seem like a time-consuming process, but removing these items from your residence will enable homebuyers to look at your house as more than just another property. In fact, decluttering and depersonalizing your house will empower homebuyers to view your residence as a home that they could enjoy for years to come.

Selling a home can be challenging, but a real estate agent can help you overcome a wide range of home selling hurdles. This professional understands what it takes to accelerate the home selling process and will do everything possible to help you promote your residence to the right homebuyers consistently. Plus, your real estate agent can help you establish a competitive price for your house, find fast, effective ways to boost your residence’s curb appeal and more.

Commit the necessary time and resources to prep your house for the real estate market. That way, you can ensure your residence stands out from others that are available and improve your chances of a quick home sale.

When Should You Take Out a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit?

No homeowner wants to borrow more money. However, if you’re experiencing hard financial times or looking for a way to fund a home improvement project, there are ways to borrow money with your home as collateral.

In this article, we’re going to talk about home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). We’ll explain how they differ and break down their benefits and risks.

Before the bubble

Before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, many homeowners were borrowing readily based on the equity of their home. Interest rates were low on home equity loans, encouraging homeowners to leverage their portion of homeownership.

During the recession, however, all of that changed. People owed more money on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and banks became reluctant to lend.

In recent, years, however, house prices have been creeping back up, and banks and homeowners alike have gained confidence in the equity of their home.

As a result, a growing number of homeowners are turning back to home equity loans and lines of credit as a source of low-interest financing.

So, what exactly are these loans and credit lines?

The difference between a home equity loan and a line of credit

A home equity loan is a lump sum of money that you borrow which is secured by the value of your home. Typically, home equity loans are borrowed at a fixed rate. Lenders take into consideration the amount of equity you have in your home, your credit history, and your verifiable income.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a bit different. Like a credit card, you are able to borrow money as you need it via a credit card or checks. HELOCs often have variable interest rates, which means even if you’re approved for an initial low rate it could be increased. As a result, HELOCs are better suited for borrowers who can withstand a higher leverage of risk and variation each month.

Is now a good time to borrow?

If you’re a homeowner, there’s an understandable temptation to use the equity you’ve built over the years to your advantage. In some cases, home equity loans and HELOCs can earn you better interest rates than other forms of borrowing.

However, as with other loan types, it’s important for homeowners to realize that HELOCs and home equity loans are not the same as having cash in your savings account.

Another danger that borrowers face is the potential for foreclosure if things go badly. While most lenders won’t seek foreclosure after a few missed payments, your home has been put up as collateral for repaying the loan. Most lenders will choose to sell a defaulted loan to a collections company rather than seek foreclosure.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to avoid borrowing unless it will help you out financially in the long term. However, for those with high home equity who may, for one reason or another, need to borrow, a home equity loan or line of credit might be the best choice.

Stress Reduction Tips for Home Sellers

Even though most of the details of selling your home are usually handled by other people — hopefully competent professionals — it still can be a stressful experience.

Major life changes are a “mixed bag” when it comes to the effect they have on your mental equilibrium. On one hand, change can open up new doors of opportunity and give you a fresh lease on life. On the other hand, it forces you to step out of your comfort zone and deal with the element of unpredictability.

While every situation is different and there’s no panacea for the stress that accompanies life transitions, here are a few strategies that will help make the road less bumpy.

  • Choose an experienced real estate agent or Realtor who will provide the guidance, day-to-day support, and expertise you need to avoid many of the pitfalls and frustrations of selling a house. If you know you’re in good hands, you’ll have less of a tendency to worry about how things are going. The ideal real estate agent will instill confidence in you, provide you with regular progress reports, and do everything they can to make sure the sales process and other logistics keep moving forward and staying on track. They’ll also provide you with good advice on how to effectively stage your home to improve its marketability.
  • Go with the flow. Accept the fact that you’ll need to keep your home immaculately clean, every day, to make the best possible impression on prospective buyers. There are also plenty of other tasks and challenges you’ll have to deal with along the way. Sometimes it helps to remind yourself of the famous serenity prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr back in the 1930’s: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Get enough sleep every night: Nothing undermines one’s coping ability, patience, and resourcefulness more than struggling against a sleep deficit. Getting enough sleep, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hours a night, is more crucial to one’s physical and mental well-being than many people realize. When you prioritize getting a full night’s sleep, you’ll generally be able to think more clearly, keep setbacks in their proper perspective, and do a better job of rolling with the changes.

Exercising, meditating, and hanging out with supportive friends and family are other methods of helping to keep your stress level manageable while navigating the challenges of getting your house sold and moving on with your life. While it’s not necessary to continually look at the world through “rose-colored glasses,” it is always beneficial to cultivate an optimistic state of mind as you wait for the right house buyer to come along.

The Essential Bathroom Cleanup Guide

Your bathroom can quickly become one of the dirtiest places in the house even after a deep clean. Knowing the most important places to focus on in the bathroom can make or break the appearance of your bathroom. Read on for some tips to help keep your bathroom spic and span. 

Toothpaste Causes Gunk And Build Up

You don‘t want toothpaste gunk to get ahead of you. Use all-purpose cleaners to quickly wipe away any toothpaste. Use baking soda or some other kind of abrasive cleaner to get up any stubborn toothpaste that won’t come up. Remember not to use abrasive cleaners on any surfaces that may scratch easily.

Keep The Toilet Tidy

The toilet is one of the more difficult areas of your home to clean. Keep ahead of the dirt in the toilet by spraying the bowl down with an all purpose cleaner or vinegar and water. The bowl can be sanitized easily with 1/4 cup of bleach or commercial toilet cleaner.

The Shower: Where You Get Clean

You need to get your shower in good shape so you feel clean once you get out of the shower. A gunky shower head can cause hard water due to lime build up. Attach a bag of vinegar over the shower head with a rubber band. Leave it on the shower head for 1 hour. Then, turn the shower on to flush with water. 

In the tub, make a baking soda and vinegar paste, or use an all-purpose cleaner to remove soap scum and grime. Any rust stains can be removed with a stain-fighting cleaner.  

Surface Clean Up

The different surfaces of your bathroom require different cleaning methods. For most surfaces, a damp mop will suffice to start. Many cleaning products can scratch or ruin certain materials so it is always best to err on the side of caution. A mild detergent can be used to help get rid of any dirt and grime on most surfaces. 

Marble and granite can be vacuumed first to remove any debris. You shouldn’t use any sort of wax or acidic product to clean these types of stone. 

Tile can be wiped with mild detergents and flushed down with water. You want to avoid using any harsh cleaning products that can ruin the tile. Wax and polish are no-gos on tile surfaces.

The best way to keep your bathroom clean is to do frequent quick cleanings. You don’t want to wait for dirt and grime to build up before you bother taking the time to tidy up the area.