Please enjoy this article that Penny Kice found for you on www.keepcurrentmatters.com
Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand increases at that time of year. However, the fall and winter have their own advantages. Here are five reasons to sell now.
At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers’. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.
Housing supply always shrinks dramatically at this time of year. The choices for buyers will be limited. Don’t wait until the spring when all the other potential sellers in your market will put their homes up for sale.
One of the biggest challenges of the 2013 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks have been inundated with both purchase and refinancing loan requests. Both of these will slow in the winter cutting timelines and the frustration these delays cause both buyers and sellers. <<MORE>>
Penny Kice Welles Bowen Realtors2460 N Reynolds Rd Toledo, OH43615
Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon/Published: November 14, 2011
Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.
I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.
Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.
The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.
If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.
Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.
Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.
Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.
Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.
Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow.
Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.
Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.
To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.
If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.
To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.
Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.
If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.
Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).
What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?
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Moving into your first home is exciting! But it also means you’ve got work to do.
When I bought my first house in May, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.
I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time home owners should know.
Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.
1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith – if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.
2. Check for plumbing leaks (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/plumbing/plumbing-leaks-8-smart-tips-stop-them/). Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.
Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/water-heaters/water-heater-maintenance/) for signs of a leak (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/plumbing/fix-a-leak-week-2012/).
Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a 2-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.
3. Steam clean carpets (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/carpet-or-hardwood/). Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh, clean start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service – you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out – or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.
4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner (http://www.houselogic.com/green-living/green-cleaning/), and replace contact paper if necessary.
When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/cabinets/), I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip …
5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, rats (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pest-control/Need-to-Get-Rid-of-Rats-Its-a-Community-Effort/), bats (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pest-control/attic-pest-removal/), termites (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pest-control/detect-termites-other-wood-destroying-insects/), roaches (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pest-control/roach-home-removal-tips/), and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.
For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/pest-control/how-help-snake-slither-out-your-house/) that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.
6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. My first experience with electrical wiring (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/electrical/when-time-for-electrical-wiring-upgrade/) was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself.
It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”
You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane (http://www.houselogic.com/protect-your-home/hurricanes/) or tornado (http://www.houselogic.com/protect-your-home/tornadoes-severe-storms/) is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve – it could be inside or outside your house – and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.
What were the first maintenance projects you did when you moved into your first home?
My family is the most important thing in my life and being at home a lot of the time with the kids and working out of my home office, I understand the importance of being comfortable in your home. Our home is where we put our children to bed, spend our holidays and create our memories. The home could be the most important decision most people ever make and the biggest investment of a lifetime. Understanding this, I feel, has made me the successful real estate agent that I am.
JOAN ROGGE, REALTOR, WELLES BOWEN TOLEDO OFFICE
Article From HouseLogic.com
By: Richard Koreto
Published: August 28, 2009
Your home is probably your biggest investment. To manage it, create a financial plan that takes into account repairs, upgrades, mortgages, insurance, and taxes.
Do you pay each home-related expense as it comes? If so, you’re missing opportunities for upgrades, or much worse, heading into a financial crisis when a slew of surprise maintenance items hit. So take a holistic look at what it costs to operate your house and set up a home financial plan.
Use our home financial plan budget worksheet, and start by writing a list of expenses, such as:
•Home insurance, including liability
•Repairs and maintenance, such as new furnace, roof, painting
•Voluntary upgrades, such as a swimming pool, a premium range, a new powder room
What will you learn from this home financial plan weekend exercise?
•How much you have to spend
•How much you need to allot in the short- and long-term for necessary maintenance and voluntary improvements
With this new found grip on your home’s expenses, you can create a home financial plan that’ll help you there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety.
The mortgage: Pay it–and then some
Yup, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up to an earlier payoff. Let’s say you have $200,000 in outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest.
Run the numbers (http://realestate-calc.com/Mortgage_Calculators/Mortgage_Calculator_Input_Add_Payment.asp) yourself for your home financial plan.
Advantages of an early payoff, says Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y.:
•Less debt means more money to spend later.
•It feels darn good to own your house outright as soon as possible.
•Minimal tax loss. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment goes to the principal, not the interest, so you’re getting only a small tax break anyway.
Of course, if you’re still saving for retirement, put the 100 bucks elsewhere:
•A retirement plan
•An account for the inevitable home repairs
•An account for discretionary improvements, which can raise your home’s value
Insurance: Protect your property
Your vegetable garden is pointless without a fence to keep out rabbits; likewise, your home financial plan will come to nothing without an insurance “fence”:
Homeowner’s insurance. Basic coverage (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-are-you-over-or-underinsured/) for your home and everything in it. The average cost is $636 per year but this varies widely by state.
Liability coverage. Protects you from a lawsuit if someone gets hurt on your property, for example. Your best bet: An umbrella policy (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/umbrella-insurance-and-homeowner-liability/). For about $300 a year you can by a typical $1 million policy.
Various disaster insurance policies. Optional policies (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/insuring-against-natural-disasters/) cover flood, earthquake, and hurricane damage. As part of your home financial plan, you have to research to see what disaster coverage, if any, you need in your area, and what your standard policy already covers. For $540 a year you can buy flood insurance, for example.
Don’t under- or overbuy insurance
For your basic policy, get homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-time-for-annual-check-up/) in case your house burns to the ground.
That sounds simple, but heads up on calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this. This difference will vary widely by region.
Another heads up: Don’t make the common and potentially disastrous mistake of thinking that because your home has fallen in value you need less insurance. If you bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom, it’s true it now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t improve your home financial plan by cutting insurance costs that way.
Other ways to cut your insurance budget:
•If you make structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, your insurer may give you a break.
•If you belong to certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, your premiums may be lower.
Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity
You own a home, so you’ll be spending money on everything from a new faucet to-surprise!-a new roof. Freddie Mac and other authorities say as part of your home financial plan, you should be prepared to spend 1% to 3% of the market value of the home annually on maintenance. To be extra-prudent, open a savings account and make regular payments until your account reaches 1% to 3% of your home’s current value.
To help you budget:
Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10?
Keep a log of your major appliances’ age so you can estimate when they’ll need replacing. Some estimated life spans:
•Roof: 20-25 years
•Heating systems: 15-20 years
•Range/ovens: 11-15 years
•Water heaters: 8- 13 years
Then get estimates on what replacements will cost and start saving.
Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance, too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services.
Resist the siren call of the home equity loan (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/a-guide-to-equity-loan-options/) to take care of everything. That just defeats your efforts to pay off the mortgage early.
Separate out what you want from what you need. A $50,000 kitchen remodel is nice, but you’ll recoup only 76% of the project cost your home’s resale, according to Remodeling magazine (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2009/costvsvalue/national.aspx).
If you can afford to redo, go for it. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace-about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range-$6,000 and up).
Taxes: (Almost) no way around them
Even if your lender handles your property taxes from an escrow account, you need to budget for them in your home financial plan. They creep up almost every year, it seems. Take responsibility for tracking the changes in your area: Look over past tax bills to get a sense of how quickly they’ve risen in the past.
Or if your lender handles escrow and you haven’t saved your bills, ask for an accounting. The median annual property tax payment is $2,198, but that hides the enormous range in medians from state to state:
•New Jersey: $6,320
•New York: $3,622
You can generally deduct property taxes on your federal return. A tax pro can tell you how much of a tax break you’ll get, to help you fine tune your home financial plan.
You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first: Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. You can challenge the assessed value (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/appeal-your-property-tax-bill/) and get yourself a rollback.
If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program (http://www.orps.state.ny.us/star/index.cfm) for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.
Richard J. Koreto is a managing editor of finance, taxes, and insurance at HouseLogic. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.
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