Real Estate


Wondering what price of house you can actually afford to look at (and still have money to live comfortably)?  Well I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey’s, and after going through his Financial Peace class, I feel like I took a little knowledge from it.  We live off our income only, and have one credit card for emergencies only (i.e. our debit card isn’t working for security purposes—is it me or are there more and more security breaches every day?!)…and the occasional cc perks I suppose.  I digress, ANYWAY, after getting ourselves into a house that we could afford fine when we purchased it, but didn’t think ahead (like to having kids—too bad we were pregnant and didn’t know it!)…once we are able to sell our house, we want to be SURE what our monthly payments will be—WITHOUT having to rely on our realtor’s integrity to tell us what we can afford (instead of what they’d like to sell).  So, I discovered Dave’s mortgage calculator and I loved it!  I had to bookmark it on here for you all to use as well.

Here’s to Le Dolce Vita for YOU!

Okay, so with the market how it is these days, it makes me wonder.  Either a realtor is essential, or not useful at all, which one is it?  Well I’ve been toying with the idea of going the “for sale by owner” route, and in doing that, studying up on it.  I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you.  This is from HomeBuying.About.com.  Here just a few of the MANY tips, ideas, and information that they give:

The largest number of buyers are actively searching for a new home during the months of April, May and June.


Questions to ask Buyers when selling your own home

What is Your Overall Impression of This Home?

How Do You Compare This Home With Others You Are Considering?

What Do You Like Most About This Home?

What Do You Like Least About This Home?

What is Your Opinion of the Price?

How Do You See Yourself Living in This Home?

What Would It Take For You to Buy This Home Today?

Tips For Preparing Your Home For Showings/Open House:

Mow diagonally and edge lawn along driveway / sidewalks. Artfully manicured lawns are edged and tell buyers you pay attention to small details. Diagonally mowed lawns make your yard appear larger.

Yellow flowers stimulate buying urges. After a long winter, everybody is anxious to see the first signs of spring. Yellow tulips and daffodils induce feelings of happiness and contentment. Arrange containers in groups of three or five near the entrance.

Clean drapes, curtains & blinds and open every window. Send your window coverings to the dry cleaners or wash, dry and press. Toss blinds into a soapy bathtub for a quick wash. Get rid of all accumulated dust and spider webs. Crisp linens and a spring-time breeze through the windows invites the season inside.

Set out fresh-smelling flowers such as just-clipped lilacs branches or peonies. Why not flatter your neighbors and ask if you can borrow flowers from their yards? Natural scents are more appealing than artificial and trigger fewer allergies among those susceptible. Peony vases are designed to hold peonies upright, but wash the flowers first to avoid carrying ants inside. Clever home staging brings color and fragrance indoors.

Utilize towels, throws, pillows in light colors – yellows, pinks, pale blues, lavenders. Even if it means replacing items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents you can buy. In soft spring colors, they will light up a room. Layer towels on bathroom towel racks and place rolled wash cloths on the counters in a fashionable pyramid.

Offer an outside mat for cleaning shoes & put umbrella stand at entrance. No matter where you live, spring weather is often unpredictable. In some states, it can be 72 degrees one day and snowing the next. If it’s raining, give buyers a place to stash umbrellas and wipe their feet before entering your home. Some sellers lay down plastic runners across floors for protection, but that tends to ruin the effect of a glittering polish job.

Buy brightly colored helium balloons. Stationery and party-supply stores sell helium balloons for about a dollar each. So, there’s no reason not to pick up a couple dozen balloons to tie to your open house signs. Balloons build excitement and will get your home noticed by home shoppers.

Set out four-color flyers & financing options. Don’t skimp on your marketing materials. You want home buyers to select your flyer among the dozens they pick up. Color sells better than black and white. Show home buyers how easily they can afford to buy your home by giving them two or three financing options. The first thing on buyer’s minds when considering a home purchase is the monthly mortgage payment. Don’t make them guess.

Fill sink with ice to chill bottled water for guests. Put a couple dozen bottles of water in a sink of ice for buyers. You can also tape labels to the bottles, printed from your computer, with your phone number, a photograph and address of your home.

Set out treats, individually wrapped in cellophane & tied w/ribbon. Touring homes makes buyers hungry. Give them a snack. It will give buyers an opportunity to linger in your kitchen and marvel at its elegant appointments, which might otherwise be overlooked.

Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two.

Don’t turn on a commercial radio station – fill the CD changer so your music will be continuous

If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one sad buyer has said, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!”

Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.

The listing should contain the following specifics:

  • Property Address
  • Age
  • Square Footage
  • Lot size
  • Bedrooms & Baths
  • Sales Price

If Buyer is Interested in Home:

Reduce Your Closing Costs. Depending on your local area, there may be fees associated with closing that are customarily paid by the buyer such as title insurance, property taxes, recording fees or escrow. In a buyers’ market, you can ask the seller to pay those closing costs. Typically, those costs can add up to one or two percent of the sales price and are often paid out-of-pocket by buyers. Ask your agent if these fees are negotiable. Then ask the seller to pay them.

Make sure your buyer is prequalified by a lender to purchase your home.

If a buyer does not have an agent, you can offer to help the buyer write the purchase contract.

Accept an earnest money deposit that makes your buyer, as the expression goes, put money where the mouth is.

· Think about asking the buyer for a contingency offer, which is subject to finding your replacement home. If you are concerned that you won’t find a suitable home, making your offer contingent on it is one way to guarantee you won’t be homeless.

· On the other hand, the buyer might ask you for a contingency sale. Handled correctly, you can always bump the buyer out of the deal or force the buyer to remove the contingency if a better offer comes in.

Expect that you will write a counter offer. You don’t have to accept the buyer’s offer, and if it is too low, always counter; don’t walk away. Sometimes buyers want to test the water by poking in a toe.

If the buyer refuses to pay your price, you might want to sweeten the deal by offering to buy-down the mortgage for the buyer or offer to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs.

· The buyer will likely obtain title insurance, which again is a negotiable expense between the parties.

For peace of mind after the sale, it is a good idea to offer to pay for a home warranty plan for the buyer. This way, when every little thing breaks or malfunctions, the buyer isn’t calling you to fix it or blaming you for the failure.

How Can Two Offers on a Listing Happen at the Same Time? http://homebuying.about.com/od/offersnegotiations/f/050108_2-Offers.htm

I hope that these tips help a little.  If you are going to take on a venture like this yourself, you MUST have as much knowledge as possible, and there is so much out there, but this could get you started, and give you a source.  Good luck, and here’s to Le Dolce Vita!!!

Have you considered putting your house on the market, or is it already there and you’re wondering how to get it to sell?  Well, as with any sale (yourself, business, real estate, used items), you must make it stand out.  What is it about what YOU have to offer that is different from the rest?  If it’s the same as the others, they will pass on by until they find something that catches their eye.  Now, that doesn’t mean doing something crazy—that might just get them running in the opposite direction.  So, to help you, I have found a few tips from msn to help you out.

Online appeal- Most people these days are found searching on-line these days.  Make sure your photographs are at their best!!

First impressions- Curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal—it can’t be imphasized enough.  Whether through a picture or not, that’s the first thing you see when you check out a house.  And, as we all know…first impressions are everything (no matter the situation).  “Does it need to have sand, dirt or pebbles swept clean?  Does it need to have leaves, cigarette butts or other debris cleaned up? Are there weeds or grass growing in the cracks and crevices of your curbs and sidewalks? Concrete curbs (sidewalks, driveways, etc.) that are badly cracked or broken should be replaced.  You’ll be amazed at how other things in your yard start taking on a much more attractive look.” — Curb Appeal

“If the house is small, remember if you plant your bushes and trees at the corners of the exterior the house appears much larger.” — B. Glass

“Curb appeal is huge, especially in the winter when sidewalks are icy and snow-covered. If you take time to shovel and salt your sidewalks, the home looks like it’s been taken care of even when the buyers can’t see the lawn under the foot of snow covering it. In the spring and summer, lawn ornaments are a no-no, and a quick driveway resealing is inexpensive and works wonders for the drive-by appearance of your house.” — Waddle

Keep it clean- Would YOU buy a house that was dirty???  The first thing I want to do is run out of there–epspecially when you can smell the dirt!  All I can think is, oh man, it will be soo much work to get this place cleaned up and ready to move in.  The last house I bought was heavily influenced because it stated in the discription (and was obviously so), meticulously clean.  This lady had an all white house (carpet, walls, decor), and I was so impressed.  Now, after purchasing it I realize how unrealistic white carpet is (especially with kids), but when you’re in awe, you just imagine living your life as they do (like maybe they’ll come clean your house for you…or maybe their cleanness will rub off on you if you buy the house—yeah right!). ““Clean: Believe it or not, this can make your home more valuable. Either do it yourself or hire a cleaning service to come in and deep-clean your house. Nobody buys a dirty shirt. Why would they buy a dirty house?” — mpharnish

I love this lady—““When we found out we were going to move, I followed the best advice given to us:  Make your house look like a very comfortable, expensive hotel room — clean, uncluttered and not like anyone else has ever been there. We rented a storage unit and moved close to 75% of our belongings into it, including everything in the attics, and cleared out the closets to only those clothes we would need in two weeks. We sold in one day, $5,000 above our asking price. … However, it took a lot of work. I literally cleaned the tracks of the windows with Q-tips — total craziness!” — anlatima

The smell factor- This you have to be careful about.  You don’t want strong scents that make people think you’re covering up something—or are offensive to people’s noses and want to get out.  You want, clean, airy and possibly slightly sweet smell in your house. ““As far as candles and cookies and such … you really can’t leave those things going in the house while you’re gone. So you have to count on cleanliness and clean-smelling things to do the trick while you’re away. No. 1: Don’t allow any smoking in the house while it’s on the market.  To help with other typical smells, I’d recommend the following. For the bathroom: Try swabbing the toilet daily with a little squirt of dishwashing liquid or clean-smelling shampoo. For the kitchen: Run some ice and dishwashing liquid in the garbage disposal daily. For carpets: Steam clean. Then steam clean again. I’d think that all things being equal, most folks could live with a paint color that wasn’t to their taste for a few months after moving in. But no one would pay top dollar for a house that appears ill-maintained and smells just plain weird!” — wecanhope

No surprises- “Operating costs: Have reasonably accurate information on the costs of your home taxes, annual heating bills, along with documentation of any recent major repairs or upgrades such as a new roof or new wiring or plumbing.” — Coldwell Banker Terrequity

Precision pricing- “What makes a home stand out is price. … This is a business deal. Price it right and then pray.” -– Grandpa Frank

Hopefully these tips will help you as you set out on your next venture in life.  Here is to Le Dolce Vita (the good life)!

With the housing market how it is these days, every aspect counts when it comes to being competitive and selling YOUR house.  I was reading the article, The Staging Diva’s Photography Tips for Real Estate Agents, my link wouldn’t work, so here’s the link if you’re interested:

http://www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/default.cfm?Action=ReleaseDetail&ID=24668

Basically it talks about clean, clutter-free, and de-personalizing is the key.  Refridgerator fronts free of everything, above cabinets clear, mantels clear, etc.  So this got me interested in any other tips there might be out there.

The way you live in your home and the way you sell your home are two different things.”

-Barb Schwarz, the Creator of Home Staging

I thought this quote was insightful since we tend to only see things as we live in them.  But we must remember,

“There are two major components to selling a home quickly and for top dollar. They are:

  1. Appearance – The appearance of the home must show the buyer the value of the home
  2. Price – The price of the home must match the value of the home”

quoted from Home Stage Advantage.

And although there are many tips and  resources out there, the favorite I found was Home Staging Tips.  They go room for room through the house giving tips on exactly what to do and look for.  Sometimes it can be hard to be critical when you may have gotten used to things in your house and are unable to “see” them.  This article helps you remember those things, as well as gives other resources.

Give it a look, and good luck!!!

Help potential buyers to see the value of your house!

Help potential buyers to see the value of your house!

Okay, so I’ve painted and decorated every room in the house except for the master bedroom.  Why is it that we always care for ourselves last?!  So, after my husband commenting several times that he’d like our room to be next on the decorating list, I’ve made it my mission to do so.

After getting books from the library, and being threatened that if I didn’t return the book they were going to come after me, I’m at a standstill.  Will someone please tell me what would look romantic, but realistic (come on, I do have little kids who every morning crawl into bed with us with graham cracker covered hands)?!

So I’ve gone to the web.  I looked on The Daily News Online, and I enjoyed reading some of these perspectives.  Okay, so here we go:

  • “The key is to think of your house in its entirety and not just each room by itself…Otherwise it’s like you have these abrupt starts and stops from room to room… Direct the whole play, not just one scene.”
  • as a rule, darker colors look best in the biggest rooms with the most light, whereas lighter colors can brighten up a small, dark space like a narrow hallway or half bathroom.”
  • Maybe red is your color. Or blue. If you’re decision averse, choose only one color you like and use a little of it, painted in different shades or techniques, through the entire house“—WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!
  • If you’re using just one color, try it on an accent wall in one room”–I think I may do this…(then) take it into the kitchen on the backsplash. In another room, the entire room is painted that color. While it’s the same color, it will look different in different spaces… because of the lighting and architecture.”
  • a black wall is sophisticated and calming…It translates into simple elegance.“–Hmm…would this look good in a master bedroom with 2 windows on that wall?  What about if I have browns in the family room next door?
  • One tip to keep in mind: Make sure all the colors you use have all warm or cool undertones. Warm colors look sunnier and often contain more yellow undertones, while cooler colors appear icier and have more blue undertones. Having the same undertones keeps a house from looking disjointed.”
  • Different undertones also affect how pale or glowing you look in a room. For example, a peach room is flattering for almost everyone, while a green room can make even the rosiest face appear under the weather”— Good to know!
  • don’t think white is an easy fallback noncolor. White also contains warm and cool undertones. And the choices can be just as numerous and mind-numbing and selecting any white willy-nilly could prove disastrous. You could find that china white makes you look dead and studio white makes you look cheap”’But dove white makes you look 10 years younger.”

Oh, the pressure well with these tips I will begin to search the “oops paint” sections of our hardware store.  Did I mention I never pay full price for anything?!

Maybe navy, according to Patricia Gray, it’s the new black!

Love the blue!

Love the blue!