The Not-So-Hidden Talents of Your Real Estate Pro

In a world where you can buy or sell a home with the click of a button, the work of a real estate agent becomes even more critical.

Sure, you may be able to perform an actual sale on the web, but the extra perks an agent provides simply can’t be replaced by the internet. If you’ve ever worked with a real estate prop before, you know that this process is much more than just a clickable transaction.

To show you what I mean, I want to share a few of my “not-so-hidden talents” with you this month. These are some skills, benefits, and knowledge I provide in addition to assisting you with buying or selling your home. You’ll also find a few numbers speaking to the high-quality work real estate agents provide for their clients.

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A home is one of the largest purchases you’ll make in life, and I’m here to make it a positive experience you will never forget! You know I can help you buy or sell, but here are some other perks I can provide you.

SKILLS FOR A SMOOTH TRANSACTION

I will use my exceptional sales and marketing skills during every point of the transaction. My goal is to negotiate a fair and competitive price whether it’s for a home you are selling or the dream home you want to purchase.

PERKS AFTER THE SALE

I’ll pop by occasionally with small items to brighten your day-to-day and send you monthly information you’ll find of value. I want to continue the relationship past the sale so you know how I’m available to help with all of your real estate needs.

SAVE YOU TIME AND ENERGY

I’ll handle all the hard work during your transaction — marketing, communication, paperwork — leaving you with less stress and more time for what you actually want to do.

NETWORK OF REFERRALS FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS

My robust contact list of trusted professionals is full of contractors, accountants, mortgage pros and other experts to assist you in any area of your life.

A REAL ESTATE GUIDE

I stay up-to-date on market trends and news to keep you informed. Whether you’re currently in a transaction or just curious, I’m here to answer your questions and provide information on the market and industry.

MAKE YOU A HERO

I am a part of a vast network of agents across North America who can set your family and friends up with a great experience. If you need a referral for an exceptional agent outside our area, give me a call!

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Survey Says…

YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH YOUR REAL ESTATE PRO!

More of a numbers person? These industry stats are a telling indicator of the high-quality work real estate pros consistently provide to their clients.

  • More than 80% of all transactions are conducted through an agent’s sphere of influence — an existing relationship that leads to a sale.

  • 91% of all sellers used a real estate agent.

  • 90% of buyers and 86% of sellers would use their agent again or refer them to others.

I will always strive to provide you with an unparalleled level of service with anything you may need, regardless of whether it’s real estate related or not. Need a referral for a great contractor? Have a question about these topics? Give me a call — I would be honored to serve you!

Get Your Time Back!

Cut Time Out of Your Routine

Life is busy. Maybe you’re a full-time parent getting ready to send the kids back to school, or a young professional balancing two jobs. No matter your situation, try these time-savers to help add extra time to your day and eliminate some stress

MEAL PREP

Meal prep means planning and preparing the week’s meals in advance to save time and money and eat healthier, portioned meals. Apps to help you plan: MealBoard, Mealime, Paprika, PlateJoy

GROCERY DELIVERY

Add items to your online cart, then have them delivered in as quick as an hour. You pay extra for the convenience, but cut back on inevitable in-store impulse buys. Can’t be home for pickup? Select a service that uses insulated containers. Stores with delivery: BJ’s Wholesale, Costco Wholesale, Kroger, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Target, Walmart // Websites with delivery: AmazonFresh, Boxed, Instacart

COMMUNITY SUPPORT AGRICULTURE (CSA)

Fresh, seasonal produce is delivered to your home, or you can pick it up at a designated location. In addition to fruits and veggies, some CSAs include items like eggs, honey, maple syrup, salsa and even flowers.

What to Do With Your Extra Time?

When things get busy, our personal plate is typically the first one to drop. Use the time you shave off your current routine to do something for yourself! You’ll feel more fulfilled and well-rounded when you add in one of these activities.

TAKE AN ONLINE COURSE

Sharpen your business skills, take a deep dive into photography or earn a new certification in your field. Websites for online learning: LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass, Udemy

ONLINE WORKOUTS

Access 10 to 30 minute workouts through Facebook videos, YouTube or an app. Workout apps: Asana Rebel, Daily Yoga, Gixo, Nike Training Club, Sweat

JOIN A GROUP FITNESS CLASS

Yoga, Pilates, cycling, cardio dance and other group fitness classes are a fun way to invest an hour in your mental and physical well-being.

PICK UP A HOBBY

Identify an activity you’ve always wanted to try, but never had time to actually pursue. Start a garden in your backyard, learn to play piano or pick up a paint brush — the world is your oyster!

Make Your Dreams a Reality

“Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” -Anonymous

How many times have you talked about visiting the Colosseum or snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef without actually planning the trip? It’s easy to dream, it’s difficult to “do.” We all have excuses for why we can’t accomplish a distant dream. Remove those limits, and follow this path to make your dreams a reality.

Visualize Your Dreams

Create a vision board with pictures of what you want to achieve, and glance at it regularly. Don’t worry if your dreams seem far-fetched at first. Dreams require you to do what you’ve never done, to go where you’ve never gone!

Anticipate Obstacles

Think of all the factors that may disrupt your dreams—thoughts such as, “I can’t afford it,” or “The kids schedules are too busy.” As you write your goals, acknowledge your circumstances and plan accordingly.

Set Actionable Goals

Write down steps to help you achieve each goal, like putting away $50 extra per month in a travel fund or getting a passport. Finally, determine by what age or date you will achieve these goals to add urgency.

Getting the Mortgage Monkey Off Your Back

Only 34% of Americans own their homes free and clear. All other homeowners have a mortgage they’re chipping away at. If you have a mortgage, you may want to consider paying it off early.


Before you begin, you should know…


Some states allow lenders to implement prepayment penalties, which means it could actually cost you more to pay off your mortgage early. Regulations vary per situation, so before you proceed, find out from your lender if you’d face a prepayment penalty on your mortgage.

If there is a penalty:
Decide if it’s worth it to you. Fines are typically a percentage of the mortgage itself. Carefully evaluate the risk versus reward before committing.

If there is no penalty:
Start chipping away at your principal as soon as you can. The first five years is the best time to make additional payments toward your principal.

7 Strategies to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

  1. Bi-weekly payment plan. Pay half your monthly payment every two weeks. Some months will have an additional payment. This could add up to an extra full payment per year.

  2. Matching principal payment plan. Add your initial principal payment to every monthly payment that follows. This shaves years off your mortgage and saves interest.

  3. Make an extra full payment per quarter. In some cases, this can take up to 11 years off your mortgage.

  4. Cash influx. Put unexpected cash - like an inheritance, birthday gift, tax refund, etc. - toward your principal balance.

  5. Refinance to a 15-year loan. This is helpful if you’re on track to pay it off early, rates are low, and you’re early in the mortgage. Consult your mortgage professional if you’re not sure.

  6. Divide your mortgage payment by 12. Add this amount to your monthly payment and make one extra payment per year.

  7. Do what you can. Make small budget cuts and save money to contribute toward your principal.

Make sure you talk to your bank or lender and tell them your plans before you get started. If you want to learn more about these best practices, talk to a mortgage professional - call me for a great referral!

How to Build Wealth the Smart Way

Make the right moves when it comes to managing your money. Many entrepreneurs keeps a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason on their bookshelves. In this classic, Clason offers timeless financial advice through several parables. Here are some of the valuable lessons.

PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Start small. Save at least 10% of all your income earned. Even if you paying off debt, 10% is still recommended.

Make saving automatic. Automatically deposit that 10% savings into a retirement account, savings account or other investment vehicle.

If you get a raise, keep your expenses the same. Avoid “lifestyle inflation” - this is when you increase your expenses as you start to earn more money.

MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU

Earn more on investments. Compound interest will help - this is simply interest on interest and it adds up quickly.

Reinvest the dividends. Rather than cashing out, put the money elsewhere and watch it grow.

Create a passive income. Get paid with high dividend or real estate investments.

Need a financial professional you can trust? Call me for a great referral in my network! I’d also be happy to show you some great investment properties in the Lynchburg region. Just call 434-665-1457 to setup a meeting to discuss your real estate needs.

Major Changes That May Affect Your 2018 Returns

I’m sure by now you’ve heard someone complain about their tax refund. Here are a few major changes to the federal tax code that may affect your 2018 returns.

7 Important Deductions Going Away

  1. Dependent and personal exemptions

  2. Interest on Home Equity loans not used to build, buy or improve your home

  3. Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP)

  4. Exclusion for forgiven debt

  5. Miscellaneous itemized deductions - i.e. unreimbursed employee expenses

  6. Moving expenses

  7. Tax preparation and investment fees

New Deduction Rules

Taxpayers who itemize their deductions can only deduct up to $10,000 on a combination of the following:

  • State income taxes

  • Sales tax

  • Local taxes

  • Property tax (If you pay high property taxes you will feel these effects more. This is common in states like California and New York.)

Standard Deductions

SINGLE: In 2017 $6,350 — In 2018, $12,000
MARRIED: In 2017 $12,700 — In 2018, $24,000
HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD: In 2017 $9,350 — In 2018, $18,000

The Child Tax Credit

The per child credit in 2017 was $1,000, that has been increased to $2,000 for 2018.


Important Dates


Tax Day Deadline - April 15th

Some USPS locations will be open late to postmark your tax return. Approved Post Providers do not offer late postmarking, so verify their last collection hours. If you file electronically, file no later than 11:59 pm.

Paycheck Check-up - July

In July, ensure your withholdings are up to date and adjust if necessary.

Extension Deadline - October 15th

This is the last day to file your tax return if you received an extension from the IRS. Need more help making sense of it all? Consider using a tax professional. 20% of income tax returns prepared on paper have mistakes, which can lead to overpaying taxes or penalties. If you don’t have one yet, call me for a great referral!

All information is general in nature and should be taken as legal advice or guaranteed. Readers should not rely solely on this information. Contact a tax professional for more context on the tax law changes. Sources: IRS & USPS

Amy + Joseph

I used to live in an apartment in Forest, VA. Amy lived in a townhouse in Lynchburg. We were getting married and looking to find a great starter home to begin our lives together. Starting the process was daunting, especially with the price tag involved in buying a new home, coupled with planning a wedding and finishing school.

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Finding a real estate agent we could trust was really important to us because we knew we would need to rely on them throughout the process and were trusting them to help us find a place to start our lives together. We knew that we wanted something to get us started in life and something we could grow into. We didn’t know exactly what that looked like in a practical sense, but we were excited to have a home and yard that we could call our own and work to make our own.

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We found out about about Tammi through a close friend of Amy’s. This friend had a close working relationship with her and spoke very highly of her. Needless to say, we were excited to have a recommendation from a friend considering the process we were about to begin. We had a modest budget and we really didn’t even know what we wanted. I remember walking into Tammi’s office to discuss using her as an agent and thinking through the questions our parents and friends who had purchased homes of their own encouraged us to ask. To my amazement, Tammi answered each of these questions without us needing to ask them.

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The process of buying our first home was surprisingly easy…because of Tammi. We sent Tammi a list of homes we wanted to visit. She set up showing at each of the properties and even surprised us with a few of her own that we had missed. When we saw each of the houses, she was more than willing and able to answer any of the questions we had. She was also honest with us about the homes we were visiting and what she thought would or wouldn’t work for us. What impressed me most about Tammi was the attention she payed to us as people, both as individuals and as a couple. This attention made the insight she gave both applicable and helpful. It also made us know that we could trust her to help us in the process, something we deeply valued at the time and still do now.

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We wound up purchasing a home Tammi recommended to us that we never would have found without her. Another thing that continues to surprise us about Tammi came after the process of buying our home ended. You don’t expect your real estate agent to stick around once the sale is done, but Tammi is different. She has continued to follow up with us even after the purchase of our new home was finished. We did some minor renovations in our home after we purchased it.

You don’t expect your real estate agent to stick around once the sale is done, but Tammi is different. When we finished the renovations, she was there to encourage us. Almost a year later, Tammi is still there encouraging us and giving us helpful tips on ways to improve our property.

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We would gladly recommend Tammi to any friends or family buying in the area. We referred Tammi to one of our friends also purchasing their first home, and the stories that come out of both their and our experiences make Tammi look more like a super real estate agent than a normal person doing a job, but that is just the kind of person you want when buying a house.

Are you looking for someone to guide you through the process of buying or selling a home? Contact Tammi Moore for assistance by sending an email to tammi@tammimoore.com or calling 434-665-1457

Wealth-Building Financial Goals for Every Stage of Life

If building wealth is among your aspirations for the year ahead, below are some ideas for potential goals to set, depending on your age and stage of life. Although your priorities will surely change over time, the goal of continuing to build wealth may not. If you would like a referral to a financial professional in our network, give me a call!

In Your 20’s

Your focus: Start saving and balance debt-to-income

GOALS:

  • Reduce debt. Although it’s important to build credit, aim to keep your balances low and apply more money toward your payments, if possible.

  • Build retirement savings. Many investment models will encourage you to maximize your investment risk while you’re young and can weather market corrections easier than older people who have less time to save and recover.

  • Create an emergency fund. Aim to save enough to cover at least six months of expenses should you lose your job or face an unexpected circumstance.

In Your 30’s

Your focus: Save as much as you can for large goals while you handle the demands of growing a family or caring for aging parents.

Goals:

  • Save for a down payment on a home. They more you can save, the sooner you can build equity.

  • Fund your retirement. By this time, retirement should be a top priority. Aim to save 15% of your pretax salary each year, if possible.

  • Save for your children’s education. If you have children, the best time to begin saving for their education is when they’re young. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan sponsored by states and several private colleges and universities that encourages you to save money to cover future education expenses.

In Your 40’s

Your focus: This is your peak earning decade: Research shows pay growth peaks at 49 for college-educated men and 40 for college-educated women.

Goal:

  • Grow wealth. This may include a variety of methods, such as investing in real estate, working with stocks and bonds or taking advantage of high-yield savings accounts. Ask your financial professional for strategies to meet your overall financial goals.

In Your 50’s

Your focus: Max out your savings and catch-up on saving for retirement. With retirement a little over a decade away, now is the time to save as much as you can.

Goals:

  • Maximize your retirement saving contributions

  • Add income-generating investments, such as an investment or rental property

In Your 60’s

Your focus: Retire and make your money last.

Goal:

  • Continue to make money grow for you. Speak with your financial professional about creating a mix of investments that will help you maintain your lifestyle and create a legacy.

Tip: Roll over any 401(k)s from previous employers into a retirement account. If it’s been moved to an IRA, work with your financial professional to help you track down the money and transfer it to your retirement account.

How to Protect Your Home During Extreme Cold Weather

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the snowiest periods will be in mid-December, early January, and early February. After all the snow we received yesterday I wanted to provide you with some tips to help you protect your home during freezing weather, ice or snow.

How to Prepare Your Pipes & Prevent Freezing

Inside the house, prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so they should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth. In extreme cold weather, the water lines should be opened slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an indoor sink. This encourages water flow and makes freezing pipes less likely to occur. Neglecting your pipes can bring severe consequences, as the cost to repair damage from a rupture ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000.

Trim the Trees

If a wintery mix strikes suddenly, it can cause ice to accumulate on your tree limbs before there's anything you can do about it. And if the ice builds up too much, it can bring even sturdy branches crashing to the ground. So, it's important to trim your trees early in the season when weather is more favorable.

Look out for branches that could hit your roof or come crashing through your windows, and use particular caution when trimming branches near your power lines. If an icy winter storm brings your power lines down under the weight of ice buildup or with a falling branch, don't go near them. Call your electric company to report the problem immediately.

Clean your gutters

Clear gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they're clogged however, especially in colder months, they're more apt to freeze, causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep into your roof, or flood your home's foundation, causing damage.

If it's safe to do so, take some time before winter hits and clear out your gutters, or work with a trusted roofing professional or contractor to have your gutters cleaned.

Tips Provided by DirectEnergy.com & Farmers.com

Alyson + Michael

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We were living in a smaller home closer to the city limits but knew we wanted to do a custom build on a larger lot with more opportunities for outdoor projects. This inevitably meant moving a little farther away from Lynchburg but it was important to us that we stay in the Forest area. 

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A mutual friend recommended we talk with Tammi when she learned that we were hoping to build and would need to sell our house quickly once it was listed.  

With our first meeting we knew that Tammi was more than capable of handling the sale of our old house and overseeing the progress on our new build.

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We wanted our new home to have plenty of space for our family to expand. It was important that we ended up in a safe neighborhood not too far away from our every day conveniences.

Tammi was immediately able to point us in the right direction when looking for lots early on in the process. As our build progressed she was able to list and sell our old house within six weeks. It was easy and fun working with her.

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We would absolutely recommend Tammi! She is honest, hardworking, very personable, and never lets your house become just another number.

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We feel fortunate that we not only successfully got into our dream home but feel we made a friend in the process.

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Are you looking for someone to guide you through the process of buying or selling a home? Contact Tammi Moore for assistance by sending an email to tammi@tammimoore.com or calling 434-665-1457

Charity + Josh

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I learned about Tammi through Zillow and Realtor.com. I reached out to her about a house I was interested in and she got in touch with me immediately. We lived in Appomattox and were looking to move to be closer to work and to be in a house that would accommodate our growing family.

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We were looking for a 3-bedroom house in a county neighborhood, and also really hoped for a space to be able to do some work from home in addition to a play area for our three boys.

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Tammi sold our old house (and had it under contract in less than half the average time on the market in Appomattox), and got us into the new house in a matter of three months. We began looking for a house in the early summer, when the market in Lynchburg was crazy. The inventory was so low and nothing under $200k was lasting more than a few days on the market.  However, even though finding a new place proved to be a challenge, Tammi made it as smooth and hopeful as possible. She did not want us to settle for something that wouldn't be a good fit. Her confidence that we would find the perfect place and her determination to do whatever she needed to do to help us made such a difference in our experience. 

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When we finally found our new home, Tammi had the contract negotiated and signed in just a few days. She completely took care of anything that came up before closing, and just handled the whole process with such wisdom and grace.

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Would I recommend Tammi to my friends…YES! I absolutely recommend Tammi to anyone I know that is looking to buy or sell a house. She is absolutely amazing!

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Are you looking for someone to guide you through the process of buying or selling a home? Contact Tammi Moore for assistance by sending an email to tammi@tammimoore.com or calling 434-665-1457

When to Get Excited About the Housing Market

Real estate professionals get that consumers, by and large, ignore housing statistics and the market until they become involved in the purchase or sale of a home. It's only natural then that what impacts the market is a bit of a mystery to many. What determines a buyers' or sellers' market? What factors influence home prices?

Of course the answers to these questions and more may be multi-faceted, but it's important to pay attention to them if you hope to keep more of your money when it's time to buy or sell real estate.

Believe it or not, even in what seems like the gloomiest of real estate markets, there will be a glimmer of light for some.

Pay Attention to Interest Rates

It certainly is no secret that obtaining a lower interest rate for a mortgage typically allows for a lower payment. Naturally then, low interest rates make home-buying an attractive venture—and, even whispers of a rate hike can spur folks to get out into the market.

For instance, by the end of 2015, the U.S. saw 5.26 million home sales, which was the most robust housing market since 2006. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), attributed the robust market, in part, to the mere “prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months.”

And, rise they did, throughout the following year. In fact, late in 2016, mortgage interest rates rose eight times in nine weeks, according to bankrate.com. Sounds rather gloomy until one recognizes that, post-hike, rates were still at historic lows.

The bottom line is that if you're in the market for a home and interest rates decrease or remain attractively low, it's time to get excited about the housing market.

The Economy

The current economy is a key factor affecting the real estate market. “Broadly speaking, when the economy is sluggish, so is real estate,” claims Joseph Nguyen at Investopedia. Rather than look at the glass half-full, however, we choose to take the opposite tack—when the economy is humming along, the housing market is at its most attractive.

When job growth is robust, consumer confidence rises and we're more apt to spend money on high-ticket items, such as cars, appliances, vacations and, yes, homes.

Exciting Markets for Sellers

There's an old saying in the real estate industry that counsels homeowners that the best time to sell a home is when you need to sell your home. Yes, we understand that isn't very helpful. If you're one of the fortunate who has no compelling reason to sell (such as a job offer in a different town or divorce), you have the luxury of choosing when to put the home on the market.

Get excited if real estate professionals mention the words “sellers' market.” This is a period in which there are few homes for sale but buyer demand is high. During sellers' markets prices typically increase rapidly and homes sell at or above list price.

One of the biggest mistakes we see in sellers' markets is the homeowner who feels that the market itself will bring top dollar for the home, regardless of condition. Be aware that it's the homes in good condition that sell the quickest and for the most amount of money. Regardless if market conditions favor sellers, if your home isn't in move-in condition, it may be passed over by home buyers.

Buying a Home This Year?

A buyers' market—when there is a large selection of homes for sale and few other buyers in the market—is a great time to purchase a home. Unlike a sellers' market, prices aren't rapidly escalating and you won't be competing against a slew of other buyers. These markets are more relaxed so homebuyers can take their time deciding.

In a sellers' market, however, it's more important than ever to have all your ducks in a row before making an offer on a property. Ensure you know exactly how much you can spend and that you've obtained a preapproval letter from your lender. Make your offer stand out from others by keeping it lean and mean, with the shortest time periods for contingencies as possible. Finally, come in with your highest and best offer. A sellers' market moves too quickly to assume the homeowner will negotiate over price.

While the type of market may determine when to jump in, as mentioned earlier, interest rates can also cause excitement in the housing market. Low rates and relaxed lending guidelines, such as we saw in 2015 and 2016, presented a prime opportunity for many would-be buyers who previously couldn't afford to purchase.

Lower mortgage rates mean a lower monthly payment, which means you have more purchasing power, and that additional power can "mean the difference between buying a 2-bedroom home versus a 3-bedroom one; between buying a home with large closets versus small closets; and, between buying an upgraded home versus a dated one," according to Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports.

Regardless of the media's perception of the housing market, there is always a mix of good and bad news, depending on whether you are in the market to buy or to sell. Arm yourself with a professional real estate agent who can supply you with current and local market information (too often what you read in the news is stale and based on nationwide statistics), follow his or her advice and buying or selling a home in any market will be an exciting process.

Choosing the Right Home


Looking for the right home can be a daunting process for first time buyers and seasoned vets alike. From the style of the house to the type of appliances, there are countless factors that can go into such a big purchase. The following short checklist outlines the most important things you should think about when you're on the hunt for a new home. 

1. Define your budget: 

It's never fun to fall in love with a house that you can't afford. Avoid the heartbreak by taking the time to analyze your financial situation before you begin the search. Start by reviewing your credit score, monitoring your debt and choosing an appropriate down payment. Meeting with a financial professional can help you get an accurate picture of your financial situation and the loans you are eligible for. 

Looking at your debt-to-income ratio is one of the ways that creditors establish how qualified you are for a mortgage loan. Your debt-to-income ratio is determined by taking your monthly debt (think current mortgage payments, student loans, car loans, etc.) and divide them by your gross monthly income. Ideally, you want to keep that ratio at 43% or lower. According to the Federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, "studies of mortgage loans suggest that borrowers with a higher debt-to-income ratio are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments. The 43 percent debt-to-income ratio is important because, in most cases, that is the highest ratio a borrower can have and still get a Qualified Mortgage." 

Don't skip the down-payment analysis! A huge factor in getting the best mortgage rate relies on how much cash you are able to put down initially. The rule of thumb has been to put 20% down as a minimum. Anything below the 20% rule will usually require mortgage insurance and end up costing you more on the loan long term. Determining the right path for you will require you to analyze your own situation—your budget, timeframe and any other factors involved in figuring out your financial capacity to save and put money away for your new home. 


2. Your Must-Have List: 

Always search for homes that meet your "must-have" list. A must-have list encourages you to write out exactly what you need in a new home and will significantly aid in narrowing down the scope of your search, especially when searching with another person. This list will also foster communication on critical aspects of your new home that might not have been discussed previously, and help you identify requirements that may be in conflict with each other. 

Focus your list on the high-level, pricey aspects of a home. Minor changes such as painting and smaller renovation projects can be worked on down the road, but changes that add up in time and money should be avoided (think kitchen remodels or adding another bathroom). Narrowing down your search to homes that don't require major changes will help ensure you choose a home that is within your budget. 

If you are struggling on where to start, think about what type of home you want to live in–Single Family or Townhome/Condo? How many bathrooms and bedrooms do you need? Do you want a fireplace or pool? What's the minimum lot size you would be comfortable with and do you require a garage? What about air conditioning? 

Keep your list short and sweet–try to keep your must-haves on the shorter side by focusing on major requirements and ranking them by importance. Prioritizing your list will help when it comes to decision-making time, as selecting a home will often require some flexibility. Your list will provide you with an easy way to determine which aspects you can compromise on and which are red flags telling you to move on. 

Compromise can be hard, but don't let small things completely take a home off of your short list. Remember, minor changes such as painting and smaller renovation projects can be worked on down the road, however, if there are a lot of these things the costs of those projects can add up. Focus on the minor modifications that you feel comfortable changing. 

3. Location, Location, Location! 

While the importance of location is often a no-brainer, the location of your potential new home serves multiple purposes. Location will impact your daily life and happiness as well as your home's value down the road. 

When looking at location in terms of resell value, you want to look at a multitude of things: school districts, crime stats, and the neighborhood & community. A little research can answer most of these questions, and this website offers Market Insider, a tool to give you details on all these factors and more! Besides looking at the current stats and trends, take this information and think about what the value of the area might be in 5 or 10 years when you potentially could resell your home. 

Along with the resale value, analyze the location of a home from the perspective of your wellbeing and happiness. Things such as your daily commute, surrounding noise, and community will greatly shape your experience in the home. 

Along with this checklist, seeking guidance from a professional is always a good idea! A realtor like me can offer a wide array of skills and expertise, from the showing of a home to the endless paperwork. You can count on me to guide you through the process and assist in your home buying decisions. 

Finding the right home might not necessarily mean finding the "perfect" home, but rather, finding the right home for you to make your own. Hopefully this checklist provides you with a guide to start your journey towards the right home. When you're ready to start looking, don't hesitate to give me a call!

5 DIY Improvements to Make Your Home Classier

Updating your home to be more chic - without looking cheap - is completely doable on a budget. 

If you're looking to add more class to your home, taking on a DIY project can give your house that extra sense of style while saving you money. No need to cringe at those three little words: "do it yourself." There really are fast, easy and affordable projects you can do on your own. Here are five relatively easy ways to enhance your home. 

1. Replace Your Light Fixtures 

Switching out an old or basic light fixture for a more elegant one is an easy way to shift the ambiance of a room. By adding a sophisticated light fixture, you can control the intensity of the light and character of your room. And you don't need to pay a pretty penny for expensive new fixtures - you can buy used fixtures online. 

2. Add Floating Shelves 

Installing floating shelves in your home combines the functionality of extra storage space with a bit of style and personal flair. Floating shelves can be mounted on walls in many different patterns, and they come in various materials to give your rooms a unique touch. For a small room choose shallow shelves to display framed photos; for a larger room you can afford to use deeper shelves to hold vases, books and unique trinkets. 

3. Paint an Accent Wall 

Painting an accent wall can add a pop of color and showcase your personality. Usually a low-risk project, a homeowner of any skill level can tackle this project in a day. You just need some painter's tape, a brush and the color that suits you! Just make sure the color you choose is complementary with the other colors in the room. Stay consistent between warm and cool tones. 

4. Install Decorative Molding

 Adding decorative molding around your home can add an extra touch of elegance. Install molding to the ceiling by capping walls, columns and cabinets, or add chair molding lower to the ground. With detailed molding you can add character to your rooms while also making them feel taller and more finished. 

5. Build a Stone Fire Pit 

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Take your sophisticated style outside by building a stone fire pit in your backyard. Completed in only a few hours, take uniquely shaped rocks or large stones and put them together to create a functional and stylish fire pit. Before starting the project, be sure to check your local fire codes or homeowners association to ensure you are safe and allowed to start building. 

Adding a touch of class to your home doesn't have to break the bank! Just be sure to start with one project at a time, allowing yourself to complete one before starting the next. Otherwise, you'll fall victim to chronic project incompleteness syndrome - not a good look! 

Now that you know about these five inexpensive DIY projects, which will you try?