Are you ready for the spring market?

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There may be snow on the ground but Spring is just around the corner!

In most real estate markets the spring is the most common time to be selling a home, for multiple reasons.

  • Supply of ready, willing, and able buyers is the highest in the spring
  • Buyers typically get their income tax returns during the spring which can be put towards the purchase of a home
  • More daylight meaning homes will typically show better
  • Landscaping and curb appeal during the spring is better than the fall or winter months

 

What can you do to get ready?

Get Pre-Approved Before Spring
You need to be pre-approved for your loan, of course. Why get pre-approved months in advance? In most cases, there are ways to massage your circumstances to get you approved to borrow more, or to get a better rate.

 

Get your home ready!

Clean & Organize
I know it’s cliché but it’s imperative to give your home a thorough “spring cleaning.” This doesn’t mean wait until spring though. Be proactive and start cleaning now; you’ll be glad you didn’t wait. A huge turnoff for prospective buyers are foul odors. Things such as smoke odors and pet odors can kill home sales.

Begin Packing and Organizing Your Belongings
There’s no way to know for sure how long it will take for your home to sell – it could take a month, or years – and while it may seem crazy to start packing up your stuff before a sale occurs, it’s best to be prepared for any outcome.

Make Repairs and Improvements
The last thing anyone wants to do before they sell their home is to dump a bunch of money into it for an extensive renovation; however, there are minor repairs and improvements that can be made to make a home look fresher for potential buyers. (fresh paint, fresh hardware, etc…)

 

For more tips for Sellers & Buyers visit HomesWithCathy.com

Your Guide to February

Love and luck mark this month. 

 

 

Chinese New Year

 

It’s the Year of the Pig. People born under this sign are said to be seekers of status who enjoy life and have good luck.

 


 

Home Warranty Day

 

Take time today to learn more about this special insurance coverage for the appliances and systems inside your home.

 


 

Valentine’s Day

 

Whether you go for chocolates and flowers or dinner and diamonds, love is love, no matter how you show it!

 

 


 

 

Presidents’ Day

 

Add Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays together and you get Presidents’ Day, honoring our country’s leaders.

 


 

 

National Love Your Pet Day

 

It’s a great day to volunteer at your local shelter or to consider adopting a new fur baby into a forever home.

 


 

 

The Oscars®

 

The 91st Annual Academy Awards is a great excuse to dress in your red carpet best and throw an Oscar-themed party.

 


 

 

February is the only month that can have no full moon.

February 1911 saw the first use of fingerprints to convict a criminal.

St. Valentine was thought to be a Roman priest in the 3rd century who secretly married couples against the orders of the Emperor.

February is the birth month of Nathan Lane, George Romero, Thomas Edison, and Rosa Parks.

Warm for the Winter: How to Heat Your Home While Saving Energy and Money

Do you get chills just thinking about your utility bills during wintertime? If your answer to a drafty home is to simply crank up the furnace, you’ll not only pay for it, but you could also be wasting energy and depleting more natural resources in the process. Instead of making your heater work overtime, here are ways you can reduce your energy consumption and still keep your home warm and toasty this winter.

  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heating accounts for 45% of energy use in homes and pumps out 292 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. The more CO2 we release into the atmosphere, the more we hinder the earth’s ability to maintain balance, which has a variety of negative implications. That’s why, the less energy you use to heat your home, the better it is for Mother Nature (and your wallet!).

 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

 

Seal Drafty Areas

Air leaks are the primary culprit for excess energy consumption. If air is able to escape out or in, your furnace will just keep pumping out heat relentlessly. Get to the root of the problem by sealing these areas.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows, including your attic, basement, and garage access doors.

  • Caulk openings around plumbing, ductwork, and electrical wiring.

  • Apply foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards, and place foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

  • Add baffles around recessed lights if yours are not airtight.

  • Install double-pane windows or cover single-pane windows with storm windows. For a cheaper option, purchase a plastic film insulation kit.

  • Seal gaps around the fireplace with sheet metal/sheetrock and a high-temperature silicone caulk. Also, ensure your flue is closed when  not in use.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends getting a professional blower door test to detect the source of air leaks, but in the interest of saving money, they also provide tips on how to identify air leaks yourself.

  

 

Check Your Insulation

 

According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated. This is especially true for older homes, but it can even apply to newer ones. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists. VisitEnergyStar.gov to learn how to perform a DIY insulation check for your walls and attic and to find out which insulation levels are recommended for your region and climate. If you’re not comfortable with the DIY route, hire a professional to assess your insulation needs.

  

 

Let the Light In

 

Using the sun’s natural light is an easy, environmentally conscious (and completely free!) way to heat up your house. As the sun beams down on your windows, it produces a greenhouse effect that traps heat inside. This works in your favor during the winter months, so be sure to open your curtains each morning to let the sun work its magic. On the flip side, remember to close your curtains at night (consider thermal drapes) to keep the warmth in.

 

 

Turn Down the Thermostat

 

As you begin implementing the energy-saving tips provided above, your home should start to warm up and retain heat more efficiently. That means you shouldn’t need to keep your thermostat set super high. During the cooler months, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68°F while you’re at home and awake, and setting it lower when you’re asleep or away. By turning your thermostat back by 7°-10°F from its normal setting for eight hours a day, you can save around 10% per year on heating and cooling costs.

 

 

Program Your Thermostat

 

In addition to choosing the right temperature, a smart or programmable thermostat can make a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. You can program your thermostat for time-of-day usage, so you don’t have to remember to turn the temperature down when you’re gone or up when you get home from work. More advanced heating systems may even be configured to only heat rooms that you use, or to kick on or off when you enter or leave a room.

 

 

 

Decreasing your energy consumption is an important first step in minimizing the impact that heating has on the environment, and in reducing your energy costs. But we shouldn’t stop there. Rather than relying on fossil fuels (like natural gas) to heat our homes, adopting renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and biomass technologies can even further reduce your home’s environmental footprint. While they may not entirely replace your current heating methods, these technologies can easily integrate with your existing system and supplement its heat production.

 

 Learn more about renewable heating options and their costs at EPA.gov.

By taking steps to reduce the amount of energy you use this winter and adopting renewable heating alternatives, you’ll save money, improve the comfort of your home, and make a positive impact on the planet. Those benefits alone are enough to make you feel warm on the inside, as well as the outside!

6 Expenses to Include in Your Homebuying Budget

First-time homebuyers are sometimes caught off guard by overlooked expenses, which can create an uncomfortable financial pinch. Be sure you consider these one-time and ongoing expenses.
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1. Home Inspection
For a few hundred dollars, an inspection can uncover potential trouble such as structural problems or asbestos.

2. Home Maintenance
Experts recommend setting aside 1 to 3%* of the home’s purchase price for annual maintenance. For example, you may need to buy lawn care equipment or replace the roof, furnace, or water heater.

3. Taxes And Insurance
Property taxes and homeowners insurance aren’t always included in mortgage payment calculators.

4. Extra Cash At Closing
Your lender should give you a detailed estimate of closing costs. But beyond those, you may have to pay additional expenses, such as a prorated portion of property taxes or homeowners association fees that the seller has already paid.

5. The Move
Whether you hire professional movers for a few thousand dollars or rent a truck, buy boxes and recruit friends to help, moving costs money.

6. Settling In
You may have to pay utility connection fees when you move in, plus utility costs may be higher than you were used to as a renter. Other costs include lock replacements and decorating expenses.

Gutter Cleaning

What
Gutters need to be cleared of leaves and debris that may have accumulated in order to function properly.
Why
Clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your roof, siding, and foundation. These repairs can be extremely expensive.
How
Many homeowners opt into a service contract with a gutter cleaning company that schedules twice a year. We recommend these plans because they are typically affordable and there is potential danger involved with accessing the gutters on many homes. Generally these specialists will get up on a ladder and check & clear the gutters & downspouts of debris. Clearing them can often be challenging due to baked on foliage (spring) or frozen leaves (winter) attached to the insides of the channels, so if you are doing this yourself, make sure you have a good ladder and a spotter helping you out. Water is generally run through the system after the channels are cleared. Make sure that all of your downspouts are extended away from the foundation at the ground level. Often, it may be necessary to regrade your soil in some spots so that all water is directed away from your home.

5 NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT KILL A SALE

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.