Five Steps to Create the Kitchen of Your Dreams

When you decide to remodel your kitchen, follow these steps to design the space you have been dreaming about:

  1.  Create a budget:  It is important to determine how much you are willing to spend to achieve your ideal kitchen.    If you need basic upgrades or a complete remodel, setting your budget will help create a realistic plan from the start.
  2. Think about what you need and what you want:  Think about how you use the kitchen.  Do you do a lot of baking and need more counter space for rolling out confections?  Would you like to have a stone oven for your homemade pizza?  There is one area that everyone should update-the kitchen faucet.  Because it sees so much use on a daily basis, think about ways to make tasks easier, like installing a new pull down faucet.  No matter what the task, you will quickly notice the difference made by this simple update.  Beyond a new faucet, here are some of the most popular items for the kitchen:  A chef’s stove is a dream appliance.  Use soft, neutral colors in the kitchen.  Purchase stainless steel appliances.  A custom pantry is a popular kitchen storage item, followed by a utensil drawer.
  3. Research and plan:  Sources for ideas and inspiration are infinite, especially online.  Visit sites like Pinterest and Houzz that provide design concepts for your new kitchen.  Visit a kitchen showroom .  Magazine articles and features can also provide valuable how-to information.
  4. Determine your approach:  Will you hire a professional or do most of the work yourself?  Moving walls or doing electrical work is best left to licensed contractors and electricians.  You may be comfortable installing a new faucet or painting your new space, but remember that when you do-it-yourself, fixing one thing may lead to other jobs that need to be accomplished.
  5. Get to work:  With the perfect plan and a list of updates to incorporate, you will be able to create your new kitchen space.

How to Price Your Home to Sell

Getting the price right is the most important factor when you are putting your house on the market.  Here are some hints for setting the price just right:

1.  Look for information about similar homes that have sold and closed escrow, those that are in escrow, and those that are presently on the market.  The location, condition, amenities should be close to those of your house.  We are in an area where many homes are custom and have unique floor plans.  Even the best comparable homes are not just like your home.  Only in a tract or condo development will the homes have identical floor plans.  I usually look at homes of similar square footage, using a range based on the size of my client’s home.  If the subject property is 2500 square feet, I would probably search in sizes ranging from 2100 to 2900 square feet.  Some of the homes found will have additional bedrooms and bathrooms and I will make adjustments to the price based on statistics obtained from the Multiple Listing Service.  The presence of an ample backyard is a big factor.  A swimming pool, I have found, is a feature that usually does not add value or subtract value for most buyers.

2. Time on the market is an important factor.  In a normal market homes should sell within thirty days if they are priced correctly.

3.  When pricing your home, try not the be at the top of the price range for similar competing homes; this is a factor often overlooked by homeowners and agents.

4.  If you put your home on the market and you are having a lot of viewings, but no sale, your price is probably too high.  If you are getting very few showings, there may be something wrong with the property itself.

5.  If your home is not in escrow within the first thirty days on the market, I recommend cancelling the listing and re-listing it, rather than simply lowering the price.  Homes that are new on the market, or appear to be new on the market, always get more attention and are many times e-mailed out to prospects put into the system by their respective agents.

6.  Look at the situation often, as new houses come on the market and hopefully many are selling, as well.

Contact me for a complimentary market evaluation of your home!

Check Credit Before Buying a Home

What is a Credit Score? Imagine that a friend asks to borrow money from you.  Assuming you had the money to loan, you might then ask yourself, “Did he pay me back the last time he borrowed money?  Did he pay me back the full amount?  On time?”  When you approach banks and lenders for a loan, they go through a similar analysis, but since they do not know you personally, they use your credit history to determine whether you will be a responsible borrower.  Lenders learn about your credit history by looking at your credit report.

You can get a free Credit Report Card that includes your free credit score right now.  Credit reports are developed by three separate credit agencies. These agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) gather information about your credit history, and, using a formula developed by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), each assigns you a credit score. You will end up with three slightly different credit scores, each from one of the three agencies. Lenders typically look at your middle credit score (as opposed to the highest or the lowest), and you must provide all three of your credit scores (one from Equifax, one from Experian, and one from TransUnion), when applying for a loan.

Why are Credit Scores so Important When Buying a Home? Your credit score helps determine the rate and conditions you receive on a loan.  If your credit score is high, meaning that your credit history indicates that you have paid your credit card bills on time, have not “maxed out” your credit cards, etc., then lenders believe it is a fairly good bet that you will not have difficulty paying off your loan. They will see you as a low-risk investment and offer you a low rate on your loan with good conditions.  If your score is lower, lenders will think you are a riskier investment, and charge you (by loaning you money at a higher interest rate, often including hidden charges) to take on the perceived risk.

How do Credit Scores Affect You When Applying for a Loan? Most lenders have a baseline credit score by which they largely make their decision to approve or deny mortgage applicants. The maximum credit score is 850 (though a score of 850 is rare, indeed. Only about 10% of applicants have a score over 800). Any score in the 700’s or above is excellent and will get you a loan with the lowest interest rate. When you get into the 600’s it starts getting dicey.  So you can see the importance of keeping a good score.  It used to be okay to miss a credit card payment deadline. You might pay a $15 late fee. But if you do this on a regular basis, it can savage your score and cost you many times that amount when you want to buy or refinance a home.  That is the bad news.  The good news is your credit score is not fixed in stone.  If you have bad credit scores, there are ways to improve your credit health.  If you find your scores are lower than you expected, you will need to engage in credit rehab.  From a financial standpoint, it is almost always better to take the time to improve your credit health, and make yourself eligible for a better interest rate, than it is to apply for a loan with a credit score that will only make you eligible for a subprime loan.

Find Out Where You Stand. You can check your credit score each month using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card.  This completely free tool will break down your credit score into sections and give you a grade for each.  You will see, for example, how your payment history, debt and other factors affect your score, and you will get recommendations for steps you may want to consider to address problems. In addition, you will also find credit offers from lenders who may be willing to offer you credit.  Checking your own credit reports and scores does not affect your credit score in any way. 

Homebuyer Do’s and Don’ts When Getting a Loan

  • DO continue to make payments on time for current mortgages, cars, credit cards, etc..
  • DO paper trail, document, and explain any large or unusual deposits or withdrawals into accounts such as checking, savings, stock, etc.
  • DO keep pay stubs, bank statements, tax forms, etc., in case the lender needs to update the documentation prior to closing.
  • DO ask questions if something is unclear about the loan program, fees, and/or loan conditions.
  • DO let the loan officer or mortgage broker know if anything changes, for example, your employment, income, assets, credit history, etc.
  • DO document that the earnest money deposit has cleared your account; obtain a copy of the cancelled check and/or statement that reflects the funds have cleared.
  • DO lock-in the interest rate.  These are ordinarily thirty to sixty days and definitely worth it if rates are trending upward.
  • DO have homeowner’s insurance agent information available and provide updated documentation (pay stubs, bank statements, etc.) in a timely manner so as not to delay the closing.
  • DO NOT increase credit card balances and/or loan balances.
  • DO NOT apply for additional or new credit or put balances on a paid credit card.
  • DO NOT ignore late payment and/or collection notices that are received during the loan process.
  • DO NOT purchase anything that is “same as cash”, as it will show on the credit report as a new debt.
  • DO NOT buy furniture, a new car or appliances on credit until after closing.  This is the most common “don’t” action that has occurred during my sales.
  • DO NOT lend money to family members or friends if the money is needed for closing.
  • DO NOT store money at home; place it in a bank account so it can be documented as savings throughout the loan process and can qualify as assets on hand.
  • DO NOT have overdrafts on a checking account.
  • DO NOT quit or change jobs during the loan process.

 

 

The Mortgage Challenge

MortgageChallenge

 

De-clutter Your Home

Consider this list of creative ways to de-clutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes: Put at least twenty-five items away in five minutes.  If the item does not have a home, or is no longer needed, place it in a donation box.  2. Give away one item each day. This is manageable de-cluttering, simply done one item at a time.  3.  Fill one trash bag: This is an easy way to process excess papers and packaging that is no longer necessary.  When the bag is full, you are done with that task.   4.  Try the Closet Hanger Experiment: To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction.  After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction.  After six months, you will have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.   5.  Take the 12-12-12 Challenge: A simple task of locating twelve items to throw away, twelve items to donate, and twelve items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize thirty-six things in your house. You can select a smaller number for children to process.  6. The Four-Box Method: As you set out to de-clutter an area, set up four boxes:  trash, give away, keep, and relocate.  Each item in every room is placed into one of the four categories.  No item is passed over; each is considered individually.  Some projects may take an hour and others may take days or weeks but the technique and principles remain the same.  No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these six or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it.  There is a beautiful world of freedom hiding behind that clutter.