Are You a Risky Borrower? 4 Ways to Find Out

Are-You-a-Risky-Borrower-4-Ways-to-Find-OutMost people will tell you that acquiring a mortgage can be a lengthy, complicated process. Throw into the mix a few credit blemishes or a heavy debt burden, and the path to homeownership can suddenly become an uphill battle.

Before you pick out your dream home and start mentally placing your furniture, it’s important to know if your financial situation will make potential lenders deem you a high-risk borrower. If they do, you don’t have to resign yourself to being a lifetime renter — there are steps you can take to improve your situation and increase the likelihood of being approved for a loan later on.

Tammi Robson, a mortgage broker at Metro Lenders Inc. in Denver, CO, determines loan eligibility using a three-pronged approach. “Approval of a real estate transaction depends on the approval of three things: the borrower’s credit, the borrower’s income, and the house itself. The borrower’s credit must meet minimum guidelines, their income must support their ability to repay the mortgage, and the house they want to buy or refinance must appraise for the amount needed.”

While every situation is different, here are the four major red flags that can cause potential lenders to consider you a risky borrower.

1. Your credit score is below 620

One of the quickest ways for a lender to get a snapshot of your ability to make future payments is to check your credit score and see how you fared with financial responsibility in the past.

You can receive one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) once a year, and some lenders will run an analysis to determine what can be done to bring your score within an acceptable range.

2. You don’t have steady employment or you have less than two years of self-employment income

W-2 employees working a minimum of 40 hours per week are the most attractive to lenders. If you are working part time, or if you don’t have at least two years of tax returns to properly represent your self-employment income, acquiring a loan becomes trickier. For the latter, Robson suggests having a mortgage professional look over your tax returns to determine how much home you can really afford.

3. You have financial responsibilities you aren’t taking care of

While credit scores and income are important, Robson explains that even more pressing are larger issues like delinquent child support payments, unpaid income tax liens, and delinquent federal student loans.

“If serious delinquencies show on a credit report, an underwriter will simply deny the loan,” says Robson. “Therefore, a borrower should bring those accounts current, and/or re-establish a payment history prior to pursuing home loan qualification.”

4. You don’t have a down payment

Lenders prefer that borrowers be financially vested in their new home from the get-go. So if you don’t have a down payment, you’ll have to jump through more hoops to showcase your financial worthiness, and private mortgage insurance will most likely be a requirement of your loan. However, your lender may be able to help you find down payment assistance programs to help bridge the gap.

How can you improve your chances?

When guiding clients through the process of acquiring a loan, Robson has a laundry list of things she suggests they tackle or monitor. Among the top items are acquiring a credit report, working to pay down debt and bring all accounts into good standing, and either securing funds for a down payment or searching for homes that allow 100% financing.

In addition, she suggests avoiding large purchases — like a car — prior to or at any point during the loan approval process. “Many borrowers ask me what is the maximum they can buy that won’t affect their loan qualification,” says Robson. “I tell them $ 30. If it costs more than $ 30, don’t buy it!”

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Are You a Risky Borrower? 4 Ways to Find Out was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

9 Effortless Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill Right Now

We all want to save energy and money, right? But it’s not always so easy – perhaps you don’t have the time for a home energy audit, or maybe there simply isn’t room in the budget for that energy-saving appliance you want.

No worries! Here are some quick and easy ways to reduce your home energy usage right now.

Reduce hot water usage

Don’t worry – you don’t have to take a low-flow shower! But heating up hot water does require energy, so take the simple and painless route:

  • Adjust the water heater’s temperature. Lower your water heater to 120 degrees F (49 degrees C). An added bonus – you’ll lower the risk of scalding accidents.

  • Don’t overuse the dishwasher. Try to run your dishwasher only once a day or when it’s completely full. See if your utility company offers savings for running appliances at off-peak times.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Most modern detergents clean clothes very well with cold water. If you have items that you really need to wash in hot water, save them up and do one hot load every few weeks.

Projected savings: Up to $ 250 per year, depending on the number of people in your home.

Turn it off

Little things add up! An easy way to save money on your energy bill is turning off the lights, electronics, and other energy users when you’re not using them.

  • Leave a room, switch lights off. Make a habit of turning off everything in the room when you leave it – the TV, lights, your computer, etc.
  • Get the kids involved. Make a game out of turning off the lights instead of constantly reminding them to do it. Offer some sort of small, nonmonetary reward for remembering to turn off their bedroom lights for a week.
  • Install countdown timer light switches. For intermittently used rooms, such as the bathroom or laundry room, install a countdown timer light switch that will turn off the lights after a specified period, so you don’t ever have to worry about it.

Projected savings: Between $ 100-$ 300 per year, depending on the number of people and rooms in your home.

Heating and cooling bill savings

Generally speaking, the furnace and air-conditioner are the big energy hogs in your home. Here are some easy ways to reduce your dependence on them – and save money!

  • Use windows strategically. Install heavy drapes or blinds on windows located in sunny areas of your home. Open the blinds on cold days to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, and close them on warm days to block out the sun.
  • Install ceiling fans. This one takes a bit more effort than the others, but the payoff can be quite large. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise or downward during the summer to force cool air down into the room. Run them clockwise and upward in the winter to better distribute the warm air.

  • Adjust the thermostat. Yes, this sounds obvious, but one of the best ways to save on heating and cooling bills is simply lowering the thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer! A programmable thermostat is ideal, but you can save money even with a traditional thermostat. In winter, lower your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours – when you leave for work, before you go to bed, or both – then raise it when you’re back.  If you have air-conditioning, do this in reverse come summer.

Projected savings: From 10-30 percent on your heating and cooling bills each year.

Saving energy doesn’t have to be a chore. With some very simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save big!

Related:

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9 Effortless Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill Right Now was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Small Updates, Big Return: 5 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value

Whether your home improvements are for you or potential buyers, consider their impact on your home’s potential resale price before picking up your toolbox (or the phone to call a contractor).

A brand-new kitchen or bathroom will undoubtedly wow potential buyers, but there’s no guarantee you’ll recoup the money you put into those pricey remodels.

To help you navigate the choices that lead to the best return on investment, we asked two industry experts (and one enthusiastic DIYer) to weigh in.

Kitchen renovations

“Renovating the kitchen is always the biggest way to add value to your home,” says Grace Fancher, real estate agent at Kansas City firm Sarah Snodgrass. “People love to cook, and everyone tends to gather in the kitchen. If you add seating, such as an island with barstools, buyers go crazy for that.”

A full remodel is a major investment, but smaller projects make a big difference if you can’t – or don’t want to – go all out. “Nicer appliances really stick out to potential buyers – even if you’re planning to take them with you,” Fancher says.

She also suggests replacing tired finishes with fresh, neutral materials. “You don’t want to be too trendy, but you want it to look up-to-date,” she says. “Everyone loves clean, white subway tiles now, but they’re really a timeless look.”

Replacing dated countertops (quartz is your best bet, according to Fancher) and flooring is also worth the time and money.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Bathroom updates

The smallest rooms in the house can have a big impact on its value, so Fancher suggests adding a second bathroom or upgrading existing ones so your home features at least two full baths.

Joe Monda, co-owner of Seattle-based general contracting firm Promondo, agrees. “People are spending more on upgrading their houses before listing them,” he says. “They really want to maximize the potential house value.”

But if you’re remodeling a bathroom just to put your house on the market, keep it simple. “Most people don’t want to pay for upgrades, so you want it to be a neutral space that doesn’t look straight out of the big DIY warehouse stores – even if it is,” says Fancher.

She adds that an easy solution is spending a little more on details, like high-quality towel bars and upgraded hardware for those big-box store vanities.

Not in a position to remodel? “Re-grouting tile, or even just using one of those grout paint pens, gives any bathroom a fresher look,” says Sharyn Young, a self-proclaimed DIY addict from Minneapolis.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Lighting upgrades

“The brighter a room feels, the bigger it looks,” says Fancher. “And when you’re selling, you want every space to look as big as possible.”

She recommends replacing flush-mount ceiling lights with recessed and/or pendant lighting – a relatively cheap upgrade that looks modern and makes a huge impact.

“LED lighting has changed everything,” says Young. “There are so many readily available, inexpensive options now that are easy to install. I added Ikea under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen of my last house, and I was amazed at how that one simple upgrade made the space feel larger and cleaner.”

Photo from Zillow listing.

Fresh paint

Like lighting, a new coat of paint can also make a space feel cleaner and brighter. Stick to neutral shades, such as light gray and beige, and if you don’t have time or budget to do the whole house, start with the living areas you see when you first walk in.

An even quicker fix is refreshing just the trim. “Beat-up, dirty trim can give buyers a subtle impression that the whole house is dingy,” Fancher says. “Repainting gives a sharper look and shows the buyer that you’ve taken care of the house.”

Photo from Zillow listing.

Landscape improvements

“A lot of people overlook how important landscaping is, especially when you’re selling in the spring or summer,” says Fancher, adding that you can increase curb appeal by just putting down new, dark-colored mulch, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on planting.

Monda suggests paying special attention to the entry. Repair or replace any damaged stepping stones, concrete paths, and porch plants, then give the front door a fresh coat of paint and add some potted plants. “You want people to be excited to walk in the door,” he says.

Photo from Zillow listing.
Top photo from Zillow listing.

Get more home improvement ideas on Zillow Digs.

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Small Updates, Big Return: 5 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

7 Ways to Use Gray in Your Home

Decorators call gray the little black dress for your home’s interior, the new white, a chameleon and other terms of endearment. No longer is this color associated with a depressing, dowdy look. Gray blends with any style, adds breadth and compliments anything on the color wheel. Use it on the walls as a base or an accent. Bring it into the room with furniture or art. Try these ideas to enrich your décor.

1. Looking to Revamp the Bedroom

Pair charcoal gray with hunter green and black. These rich, bold colors play well together. Assign a supporting role to the black while giving the gray and green center stage.

 

Gray and Green Bedroom

 

2. Baby on the Way

You’ve decided to wait until the birth to find out the sex of your newest family member, so paint the nursery a gender-neutral gray. Bring in accents in the color of your choice – yellow and coral exude warmth, while blue and mint lower the temperature a little.

 

Gray Yellow and Coral Nursery

 

3. Getting Ready to Sell

Prospective owners want to imagine a house furnished with their own panache so go with a neutral color. Paint the walls with a flat, light gray to hide a multitude of blemishes. Then brush a creamy shade onto the trim for a well-defined look.

 

Gray Walls

 

4. Decorate the Man Cave

A deep gray and a vivid red evoke a robust, masculine feel. The same color combo also makes a dramatic impact on the living room.

 

Gray and Red Man Cave

 

5. For a Bold Effect

Cover the walls in gray and the ceiling two shades lighter. You’ll add dimension and give the room a snappy, fresh look.

 

Gray Theater Room

 

6. Opt for a Lavish Bathroom

Charcoal, slate and silver all articulate luxury and elegance. Infuse the room with tiles, paint, grass cloth or wallpaper in those colors.

 

Gray Bathroom

 

7. Makeover the Kitchen

Pewter, blue-gray, slate imply simple and reliable according to color psychology. Pair several shades together for a more complex feel. Use a glossy paint to create a modern look.

 

Gray Kitchen

 

Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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7 Ways to Use Gray in Your Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home

As a new generation graduates from renting to homeownership, they face plenty of uncertainties: How much homeowners insurance is enough? Is a home warranty necessary? How do you fill a 4-bedroom home with the stuff that used to be in a 1-bedroom apartment?

Transitioning from an apartment to a larger home is always tricky, but making that move – known as “upsizing” – is extra complicated for today’s young home buyers because they’re really going big.

“When Millennials do become homeowners, they leapfrog the traditional ‘starter home’ and jump into the higher end of the market by choosing larger properties with higher prices, similar to homes bought by older buyers,” states the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. “They pay a median price of $ 217,000 for a home-more than Baby Boomers, and just 11 percent less than Generation X. The Millennial median home size is 1,800 square feet, similar in size to what older generations buy.”

Many millennial home buyers move from small apartments into 1,800 square feet or more. Photo from Zillow listing.

When you upsize from an apartment into a spacious new home, opportunities abound – plenty of closet space, a yard for the dog, and extra rooms for that home office, spare bedroom, or home gym you’ve always dreamed of.

But once the moving van’s gone and the boxes are unpacked, new homeowners often face the harsh reality of upsizing: The furniture, wall hangings, and knickknacks that fit so perfectly in your small apartment occupy only a fraction of your larger home’s space. And that spare bedroom would be perfect – if only you had a spare bed.

Many new homeowners’ first instinct is to hit the discount stores and buy affordable pieces to fill the space. While budget-friendly furniture has its place, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your new acquisitions.

There are plenty of ways to use what you already have – and optimize your spending for the things you don’t – to make your new house a cozy home.

Don’t buy things just to fill space

It’s tempting to stockpile new furniture and decorations, but it’s an effort that can easily backfire, according to Jennifer Dwyer, professional organizer and owner of Seattle-based A Logical Mess. Inevitably, the measurements are wrong, or the piece doesn’t match your existing style or decor.

“People naturally want to fill the space, but you really have to consider how you’re going to use it,” advises Dwyer. “Wait until you move in, place the furniture you have already, and assess at that point.”

Start by placing the pieces you have, then decide what to add. Photo from Zillow listing.

It’s OK to sparsely furnish the new place while you get a feel for your new home and the style you’re after. “You can tell when people just go to, say, Pottery Barn and buy what’s on the showroom floor,” says Jason Mathews, owner of Seattle interior design and home staging firm, Jason Mathews LLC.

Prioritize with a special piece

To furnish a large living room or family room, Dwyer recommends investing in a sectional couch. Like a dining room table that expands to seat more people, a sectional sofa pulls apart and goes back together depending on design preferences. And such sofas often have expansion pieces you can buy later to further fill space, adds Dwyer.

Sectional sofa components can be separated and expanded to change the room. Photo from Zillow listing.

Mathews agrees that a sofa is a good investment piece. “It’s something you’re going to use every day,” he says. Furthermore, sectionals pull apart to create more than one focal point in a room – think an L-shaped seating area and coffee table in one part of the living room, and a smaller couch and lamp in another for a cozy reading nook.

Not everything needs to be a statement piece, both Dwyer and Mathews emphasize. Once your sofa is in place, find inexpensive side chairs or perhaps an antique table to repurpose as a coffee table.

Place furniture thoughtfully

Furniture arrangement can make a big space seem smaller. Area rugs are ideal for anchoring furniture groups and making a space feel more homey.

A patterned area rug defines a space within a larger room. Photo courtesy of S+H Construction.

“The great thing about rugs is that they don’t have to be expensive – even a large rug,” Mathews says. He advises centering the rug, then placing furniture on and around it. “Even if the rest of the room is empty, you’re starting out with a cozy spot.”

Homeowners often make the mistake of pushing furniture right up against the walls. But pulling the furniture toward the center of the wall helps minimize an expansive room.

In an expansive room, arranging furniture away from the walls creates natural living areas. Photo from Zillow listing.

“Even just six inches off the wall,” advises Mathews. “It gives the room a chance to breathe a bit.”

Decorate your space

Once you’ve furnished your new home, it’s time to decorate. Items like a standing coat rack in an entryway or decorative vases in a stairwell are classic pieces that also fill space – and they don’t have to be expensive.

“I’m a big fan of T.J. Maxx and Ross,” says Dwyer. “You can play around with ideas, and if they don’t work out, you’re not out a ton of money.”

A few well-chosen decorations give a room a personal touch. Photo from Zillow listing.

Give extra rooms purpose

Empty rooms hold such promise: Will you have a home office? An extra bedroom for visiting families? A place for a treadmill, weight set, and stationary bike?

It’s OK to take some time to think it over – just shut the door if the emptiness bothers you. But whatever you do, don’t use that extra space as a storage room, warns Dwyer, or it will never become anything else.

“Find a home for everything, and don’t leave those boxes lying around,” she says. “If you don’t know where to put it, you probably don’t need it in your new home.”

Top photo from Zillow listing

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Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighborhood, Faster

While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Moving to a new home is tough, but it gets even harder when the move includes relocating to a new city or neighborhood. Logistical considerations — like figuring out the best way to get to work — are stressful and time-consuming but require only a bit of trial and error.

Finding your sense of place within a community is not as straightforward. While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Here are five tips to make the transition go more smoothly, whether you’re moving across town or across the country.

1. Make the first move

Sure, it can feel daunting to approach a new next-door neighbor and introduce yourself, but they may be equally hesitant to disturb your family, particularly if you seem busy settling in. So take the initiative and look for an opportunity when they don’t look rushed or preoccupied either. A simple wave or hello can open the door without being intrusive.

2. Make yourself approachable

Likewise, create chances for others to welcome you. Sit on the front porch. Take leisurely walks. Or perhaps just focus on being approachable — avoid the usual mad dash to your car every morning and ditch the grumpy expression upon returning from work.

The same rule applies when you’re out and about in the community. Pick a bar seat over a corner table to enjoy a coffee or beer; there’s something about communal seating that encourages conversation. Take the kids to a playground or park — and don’t keep your face submerged in your iPhone. Make eye contact, smile, and say hello.

3. Become a local

Do as the locals do and frequent a local restaurant, farmers market, or shop. Got a dog? Even better. Dog parks practically beg to help you and your pet make new friends. Soon enough, a nearby destination will be one of those places where at least a few people know your name.

4. Get involved

There’s no better way to meet like-minded people than by participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Finding the right fit may just require a little digging. Check with local schools and universities, park districts, recreation commissions, sports organizations, and — perhaps the greatest reference of all — neighbors and fellow parents.

Large cities often house bars that cater to locals who cheer for out-of-town professional teams — say a “Steelers bar” in San Francisco. Just search on Google, try a handy app, or check out message boards on the team’s website.

Parents have additional outlets for making new friends, like volunteering at school activities, getting involved in car pools, or hosting play dates. Donate your time to community organizations to get to know the neighborhood and improve it by cleaning up trash, helping other residents, or clearing park trails.

5. Use your existing network

Take advantage of organized programs that can help you meet others in your new community. If you were active in a church or other place of worship in your previous location, ask for a referral to a similar establishment. Many employers offer programs that connect newly relocated workers with one another as well as longtime residents.

Most colleges and universities also have local alumni chapters. And don’t forget to mine your online networks. Ask Facebook friends if they know anyone in your new town, or search sites like Meetup.com to find others with similar interests. With a little time, you’ll find “community” is wherever you make it.

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5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighborhood, Faster was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

9 Ways to Personalize Your Bedroom

To get the right amount of sleep, you need to spend one–third of each 24 hour day, or eight hours in your bedroom. Yet, this room can often be neglected when it comes to decorating because visitors rarely see the bedrooms in your home. Forget about guests for now and transform the master bedroom into a relaxing, soothing sanctuary by putting your own creative stamp on it. Match the decor to suit your personality.

The following tips will turn your bedroom into a much-needed retreat.

1. Display Your Photos

Pictures of family, friends, pets or just scenes you like belong on your walls and dressing tables. Make a collage of framed photos to hang on a single wall or above the bed. In a kid’s bedroom, a poster of their favorite musical or comic character displayed on one wall might suggest a theme to follow.

Rustic Bedroom

2. Choose a Theme

Whether your premise involves colors, artwork or nature, let it reflect your interests. Other ideas to consider include nautical themes, a country motif, jungle décor or large cat prints. Focusing on a theme also makes decorating easier because you’ve narrowed down your choices considerably.

Country Bedroom

3. Add an Area Rug

A soft, fluffy rug next to your bed warms your toes when you get up in the morning and gives the room a lift, too. You can find these gems in numerous textures, sizes and shapes. Changing the rug to suit your mood or the season instead of installing new carpet makes good economical sense. Treat your feet with high pile, a faux polar bear pelt or sheepskin.

Faux Fur Area Rugs

4. Hang Artwork

Paintings, artistic photos, inspirational quotes or a special quilt all have their place in your sleeping room and these items don’t need to always be relegated to the living room. If you have something you love, don’t be afraid to hang it. You can even use the art as your theme and decorate around it.

Bedroom Painting

5. Include Scents

Do you have a favorite smell, one that calms you and instantly reminds you of pleasurable activities? It could be coffee, lavender, vanilla or something else. Place your favorite scented candle or a dish of potpourri with that aroma on your bureau, but only one fragrance at a time, please. You don’t want them clashing.

Bedroom Candles

6. Stick With Soothing Colors

Either choose from a palette of neutral shades and assign the brighter colors to your accessories, or you can have the more bold colors on the walls. Greens and cool shades of blue create a restful haven, while too much red or orange can be stimulating, and not soothing.

Blue and White Bedroom

7. Put Your Signature on Wall Treatments

Match the drapes, curtains or blinds to your theme and add ambiance to your bedroom. Here again the choices run the gamut from sheer to heavy, most any color or pattern, and from tailored to shimmery.

Floral Wallpaper

8. Keep Furniture to a Minimum

Strive for the minimalist, uncluttered look and you’ll sleep better. A bed, stool, a dresser for each person, a nightstand and chair are really all you need so you can splurge on quality. You might choose solid or reclaimed wood or even wicker furniture.

Minimal Bedroom

9. Accessorize

Houseplants, throw pillows, a lamp that represents your theme, the bedspread or duvet, all reveal your personality and put your stamp on where you relax at the end of the day.

Contemporary Bedroom

 

Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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9 Ways to Personalize Your Bedroom was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Ways Home Buyers Make Their Agent’s Job Harder

Buying a home can be a long and challenging process. It’s a big, expensive and infrequent transaction that can cause lots of stress and anxiety.

Some buyers take years to complete a purchase, and they require a lot of hand-holding and make lots of requests. Others are more self-sufficient, and only bring in the agent from time to time.

Good real estate agents can accommodate any buyer at any time – as they should. We’re in the service business, and I always say the customer is always right.

But let’s face it: All buyers (and all agents) are not created equal, and since buyers don’t pay for the agent’s time, there can sometimes be a disconnect.

Here are five buyer behaviors that can make life tough for agents.

Planning a (secret) price swap

It’s one thing for a buyer to ask a seller for a credit if the final home inspection uncovers a problem. But after you have a deal, planning to negotiate the price down without telling your agent is a big no-no. It adds stress and ill will among all parties involved, during what could already be a difficult transaction.

It’s better to be upfront about your intentions. If the deal is not meant to be, it’s better to not go down the path at all.

Making unjustified lowball offers

The seller’s property is on the market for $ 400,000, and it’s worth close to that, based on recent comparable sales. And yet, a potential buyer offers $ 300,000 and won’t budge on the price.

It’s not because the home is grossly overpriced or there’s something seriously wrong with it, but simply because the buyer wants a bargain.

Unjustified lowball offers can be a waste of time for everyone involved. The seller isn’t going to swallow $ 100,000 for no reason, even if the property has been on the market a while.

In fact, a lowball offer will likely just help the listing agent get a small price reduction, thus opening the window of opportunity to another buyer.

It’s certainly okay to offer less than the asking price, but be realistic.

Requiring too much during the showing

It’s typical for a potential buyer to view a property during an open house, then ask for a private showing – even two or three times. That’s par for the course.

However, it’s frustrating when a buyer arrives to a showing with a designer, architect, contractor or just some friends, then spends an hour or two at the home checking out and measuring each room. This is counterproductive, particularly if you do it at one home after another and never make an offer.

Some buyers have even been known to bring their psychic, who, after making a big splash with tarot cards and numerology charts, declares that the property has “negative energy” and isn’t a good fit, mainly based on the numbers in the property address. Did the psychic really need to see the property in person to figure that out?

Buyers typically give themselves an opportunity to gauge their own reactions to a property before bringing in friends, family or hired consultants. To go over a home inch-by-inch on the first or second visit is often a waste of everyone’s time.

Demanding loads of attention early on

Some people are just beginning to think about buying a home. That’s fine; buyers have to start somewhere.

Unfortunately, sometimes buyers are a year or two away from being ready to pull the trigger, yet they make a lot of demands on the agent’s time.

Asking an agent to research city building permits on a house just because you’re curious – and even though the property doesn’t fit your requirements – is probably not a fair request.

Agents can’t be as effective with their active clients if they’re spending lots of time researching tax records or city permits for clients who are years away from being ready to purchase.

Changing your mind repeatedly

It’s fine to shift course based on what you learn during the home shopping process. This is a common part of the buyer evolution process.

Many buyers set out for X but end up with Y after learning the market and seeing where their dollar goes. By the time you’re ready to start making offers and moving in the direction of acquiring a home, you will be laser focused.

But if you find yourself moving around and you’re uncertain about the object of your search, it’s possible you just aren’t ready to buy. That’s fine. Take your time and learn the market.

The home-buying process is a journey, and a good local agent, brought in at the right time, can add so much value. Be mindful that agents work for free until a buyer or seller closes. Agents should be leveraged as a huge resource – when the right time comes.

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Originally published May 23, 2014.

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5 Ways Home Buyers Make Their Agent’s Job Harder was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

7 Ways to Reduce Stress During a Move

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend.

Whether you’ve decided to accept a new job offer in another city, found the perfect apartment on Trulia, or finally closed on the home of your dreams, a fresh start is always exciting. Packing all your belongings into boxes and lugging it all to a new home? Not so much.

We get it. Moving can be crazy and stressful — but there are ways to survive the process without aging yourself prematurely.

Here are seven ways to manage your stress before, during, and after you’ve boxed up your life.

1. Purge

Clutter creates stress. Minimize the junk clogging your closets and you’ll automatically breathe a sigh of relief. Clear the clutter from your home by organizing things you no longer need into three piles: Sell, Donate, and Toss.

Put big-ticket or valuable items in the “sell” pile. Then snap some photos and list them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. (Or go old school if the weather’s nice and hold a massive yard sale.)

Score a tax deduction by donating items to Goodwill or a local thrift store. Throw away or recycle any items that have little or no use left in them.

Here’s the most fun part: Eat through the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Spend the weeks prior to your move creating oddball meals based on whatever happens to be in your cupboards. And don’t forget to drink all your booze!

2. Clear your calendar

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend. You’ll get more done by packing continuously for several hours than you will by packing in short bursts of time.

If possible, bribe some of your friends to help. Promise to buy them dinner and drinks if they’ll donate a few hours of their time to help you pack and move.

3. Accumulate boxes

Start accumulating a stack of newspapers and boxes several weeks prior to your move. Ask friends if they have leftover boxes from previous moves or visit local grocery stores and retail outlets, walk back to where the employees unpack the inventory, and ask if you can walk off with a stack of boxes. Costco and Trader Joe’s both keep a steady supply of boxes in-store.

If you’re willing to splurge, you can buy boxes from shipping and packing stores or your local home improvement store. The benefit to buying boxes is that they’ll all be standard sizes, making them easier to stack and load.

4. Plan

Don’t start packing without a strategy. One of the most efficient ways to pack your belongings is to methodically move from room to room. Clearly label each box based on where in your home it was packed. This way, when you unload boxes in your new house, you’ll know where each box should go.

5. Protect your valuables

The last thing you need is a nagging concern that you can’t find your wedding ring and passport. Those worries will stress you out more than almost any other aspect of moving!

Pack one suitcase as if you’re going on vacation and include the items you’ll need to immediately access, such as clean underwear, socks, and a toothbrush. Add valuables and the most important documents so that you’ll know they haven’t gone missing.

6. Give ample time and deadlines

Nothing is more stressful than knowing that you can’t start moving into your new home until 8 a.m., but you need to be out of your apartment at noon that same day.

If you can, allow for your time in each place to overlap. This may mean paying two rents or two mortgages for up to a month, but it will allow you the benefit of time — and that will work wonders on your stress levels.

Also, create minideadlines for yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll pack up one room per day, or that you’ll unpack for two hours per night after you move into your new home.

7. Delegate

Finally, the best way to reduce stress is by outsourcing and delegating. Use online resources like TaskRabbit and Craigslist to search for people who can help you pack and move. Before they leave, ask them to help assemble furniture and move big boxes and furniture where you want it.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And when you’re moving, you need as many hands as you can get.

Trulia’s Blog

7 Ways to Reduce Stress During a Move was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall

The leaves changing color indicates the season has changed, and so follows your home decor. Decorating for the chillier fall months means incorporating warm and inviting colors and textures into your home’s interior design, specifically in the kitchen.

Try these four tips to create a cozier kitchen for fall.

Weave in dark textiles

Fall means decorating with gorgeously textured throws, pillows, and table linens. Introduce your kitchen to an autumnal palette using dark, natural window coverings and similar table linens for a cozy effect. This look juxtaposes raw texture with soft details like fresh fruit, warm placemats, and smooth surfaces.

Bank on butcher block

Found most often in farmhouse-style or rustic homes, butcher block is great for countertops and tables because it’s durable and looks better the longer you have it.

If you’re thinking about switching out your countertop, consider butcher block for a warm, inviting feel. If you don’t want to commit to a full countertop, try a large cutting board or table to add earthiness to your kitchen.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Add pops of color

If your kitchen has a blank space or accent wall, consider painting it for an inviting scene. For the fall season, you can choose to use warmer, darker colors like a deep red, warm orange, or olive or brown tone.

Don’t want to paint an entire wall? Select a piece of art or two featuring deep and rich colors to create a cozy ambiance. You could even paint your cabinets or counters.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Nurture indoor plants

Houseplants are always good go-to decorations because they require little upkeep, and add a touch of freshness to any space. They are particularly useful in the fall because they can double as herb gardens or unique decor.

Install a small indoor garden on your window sill or on a shelf near a window to have easy access to fresh rosemary, sage, and basil, even when the weather might not call for gardening.

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While these suggestions may seem small, they are great touch-ups to boost your festive theme this fall season. Add one or two, or mix all of the design tips for a home-sweet-home feel.

What are your favorite fall-themed ideas for a cozy kitchen?

See more kitchen design inspiration.

Related:

Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

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4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home