Don’t Fall In Love With A House Before You Are Ready To Fully Commit

Finding the house of your dreams might seem pretty easy.

You know what you want and like. You feel like you will know the perfect house when you see it. The minute you find “the one”, it will be love at first sight. It will just feel right, like it was meant to be.

Kind of like the notion of finding your soulmate.

Back in the day, finding your ideal house or soulmate was a lot trickier.

Until…the Internet.

Nowadays, there are tons of websites for people to find the love of their life…and just as many to help people find the home of their dream.

The Internet has made it easier to find “the one”…in love, and housing.

But just because it is easier for you to find your soulmate, or your “soulhouse”, doesn’t mean you are in any position to do something about it.

Fate can only take you so far. Reality has to be dealt with…

Your “relationship” status in terms of housing has to be considered.

Are you “married”?

Let’s say you are married…

All of a sudden, you stumble into your someone who you feel is your soulmate somewhere. Could be at work, online, at a bar, at the gym. Doesn’t really matter.

Let’s put all debate about “right” or “wrong” aside… You decide to ditch your significant other, and follow the passionate path, and marry this new man or woman.

You’re going to have to deal with your marriage. You can’t ignore it. It is an issue. You can’t still be married, and actually marry your newly found soulmate. You could fool around. You could have an affair. But you aren’t getting married without ending the marriage you already have.

It’s kind of the same thing if you find the house of your dreams…

If you already own a house, it’s like being married. Most people don’t have the ability to buy another house, without selling the house they already own.

So, what do you do?

Should you sell the house you already own first, and just hope your dream house appears once your house is sold?

Or do you keep your eyes open for your dream house, find it, fall in love, and then scurry to get your house sold as quickly as possible, before your dream home gets scooped up by someone else?

There is no easy solution to this.

Are you seriously “dating”?

There is a lot more to ending a marriage than there is when you are simply dating someone.

So, if you are dating someone, and you fall head over heels for someone else, you can end things a little more quickly and easily. But, of course there will most likely be some headaches and heartaches to deal with.

Renting is like dating.

If you are renting a house or an apartment, and you come across the house of your dreams, you are probably not going to find it is the perfect timing. Maybe you will have to try and end your lease early. Or maybe you will have to continue paying your rent until the lease ends.

But these are not huge issues in the grand scheme of things. You are in better position to go after the house of your dreams, than someone who is married to a house they already own.

Are you “single”?

A lot of people look at being single as undesirable. Even more so if you are living at home still with your parents.

Let’s face it, if you you’re looking for your soulmate, you probably don’t want to fess up to living in your childhood bedroom, or your parent’s basement. It doesn’t sound all that impressive or intriguing.

(Whatever…if someone is truly a soulmate, they should be totally cool with you being a cellar dwellar!)

Not owning a home, or even renting your own place is like being single.

As unimpressive as this scenario sounds to some people, this is the best scenario to be able to act upon finding your dream home. You have nothing to sell, and no lease to worry about. This is as good and easy as it gets.

Did you get “divorced”?

Things happen in life. Life throws curveballs. People grow apart. People make mistakes. People split up. People hurt each other. And people who go through a breakup often have “emotional baggage”.

Plenty of people end up getting “divorced” from their own home…

Having a short sale, or a foreclosure in your past is like having gotten divorced.

This doesn’t mean you are unworthy of finding and getting your dream home. But it might affect you being able to get it. It depends on a lot of factors.

Get some pre-“marriage” counseling.

Most people do not really consider their current housing “relationship” when they start looking for their dream home.

It usually starts off as some wishful thinking. Maybe browsing a few websites…just seeing what’s out there. Then it progresses to flirting with possibilities, perhaps.

Before you know it, there you are…in love with the house of your dreams. So, you call a real estate agent who “introduces” you to the house in-person.

Sure enough, it’s “the one”!

Maybe you’re in position to jump on the chance to follow your heart…

But, unless you’re “single”, most likely you are not. And it is absolutely heartbreaking. You aren’t ready for the new relationship. You need to deal with the one you already have.

The best way to avoid any heartache is to put yourself in the best possible position to grab your dream home when you find it.

This doesn’t mean you need to be absolutely “single” before you start looking for your dream home. But you do need to have a plan in place as to how you will transition from your current housing relationship, into one with the home of your dreams.

There is no one solution, or even an easy solution.

The best solution is to call a real estate agent before you start your search.

Let your agent put on his or her “marriage counseling” hat, and advise you on the best way to plan for and make the transition from your current housing relationship, to the one of your dreams.


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 3:28 pm
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

4 Mistakes To Avoid The First Time You Buy or Sell A Home

If it’s your first time buying or selling real estate, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are tons of potential pitfalls and challenges along the way that it’s hard to anticipate when you don’t know what to expect.

But luckily for you, most of the missteps taken by first time buyers and sellers are pretty universal, which means you can learn from their mistakes and avoid falling into the same traps.

Here are four common real estate mistakes to avoid the first time you buy or sell a home:

1. Thinking you know the right price

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The price of a home – whether you’re buying or selling – is one of the most important components of a real estate transaction. But there’s a lot more that goes into pricing than what meets the eye.

Pricing a home is a kind of science. There are so many factors that come into play – time of year, current market conditions, how quickly homes are selling the neighborhood, the current value of the home. The real estate agent takes all of those factors into consideration when coming up with the right price for a home.

Without a real estate background, it’s impossible for you to understand all of those conditions and how they affect the price of a home. If you’re selling, you’re likely to think your home should sell for a higher price because of the value it holds for you. If you’re buying, you’re likely to think a property should sell for less because that means a better deal on your end.

But ignoring your real estate agent’s pricing advice because you think you know what the price of a property should be is a mistake. As a seller, you’ll end up overpricing your house (which will leave it sitting on the market). As a buyer, you’ll end up lowballing your offer (and losing the house in the process).

The first time you’re buying or selling a home, it’s your best bet to leave the pricing to the experts. Your real estate agent will always work to get you the best deal – and keep you from pricing yourself out of the deal you want.

2. Not budging on negotiations

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Another mistake first time buyers and sellers make is being too rigid when it comes to negotiations.

Most real estate transactions require a bit of compromise. As a seller, you might need to give in on some of your buyer’s demands and as a buyer, you might need to work with the sellers a bit in order to close the deal. It’s just the way real estate works. And if you’re not willing to give an inch, the deal can very quickly go south.

Now, just to be clear: you should never compromise TOO much. Don’t compromise on the things that are important to you. But if a minor repair is all that’s standing between you and closing your real estate deal, giving in can be much easier than walking away.

3. Not thinking outside of the box

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If there’s a mistake that nearly all first time home buyers make during their home search, it’s not thinking outside of the box.

Most first time buyers have a very specific idea of what they’re looking for in a home. And while it’s fine to know what you want, refusing to look at properties that don’t check off every single item on your wish list is a major mistake – a mistake that can keep you from finding a home you’re in love with.

If you want to find a home you love, it pays to get creative and see as many properties as possible. Have certain non-negotiables (like a specific number of bedrooms or a designated outdoor space) but allow for some wiggle room on everything else. You’ll end up seeing more properties, and who knows? You might fall in love with a house that’s totally different from what you thought you wanted – a house you would never have seen if you didn’t think outside of the box.

4. Trying to do everything on your own

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Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make the first time you buy or sell a home is trying to do everything on your own.

Buying or selling a home is not only hard work, but it requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise. You need to know where to look for hot properties, how to market to buyers, how to negotiate, how to file all the paperwork… if you’ve never bought or sold a home, it can be completely overwhelming.

Which is why you need a real estate agent to walk you through the process. When you work with a great real estate agent, they make the experience of buying or selling a home easier, faster, and more profitable.

Trying to do everything on your own is a mistake. But hiring a real estate agent can quickly rectify that.

Buying or selling your first home can be overwhelming. But now that you know the most common mistakes to avoid, you’re well on your way to a stress-free first time buyer or seller experience.


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 3:27 pm
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

The Lifespan of 20 Essential Household Items

Has your air conditioner ever failed on a hot summer day? It’s a struggle no homeowner wants to deal with. When you own a home it’s important to budget annually for repairs that might be needed and anticipate when things might need to be replaced.

If you take care of your home, your appliances and fixtures should last longer. This means keeping them clean, performing regular maintenance and preventing unnecessary wear.
Even the most well-kept homes will need repairs at some point and it helps to know how long you should expect your items to last. We’ve put together a list of how long certain household fixtures and appliances should hold up.

Check out each of the rooms below, or click here to see the full infographic.

Exterior:

Fixtures outside your home can suffer the most wear and tear of anything you own because they are constantly exposed to the elements. However, they are usually some of the most sturdy and are typically built to last. These are the items you will likely have to pay more for but luckily not as often.

  • Window Unit Air Conditioner: 10 Years

The typical window unit air conditioner can last anywhere from 8–12 years depending on how much it’s used and how well it’s taken care of. Be sure to turn the unit off when it’s not needed and clean the air filter often.

  • Garage Door: 12 Years

You can expect 10–15 years of reliable service from a garage door depending on how often it’s used. To prolong its life, apply lubricant spray to door springs every three to six months.

  • Siding: 30 Years

Siding can last anywhere from 20–40 years depending on the material used, weather conditions in your area and how well it’s taken care of. For instance, aluminum siding will last 15 years but needs to be repainted when it fades every five or so years.
Wood siding that is painted or stained every five years should last decades. But vinyl siding is a popular choice because it can last up to 40 years and is virtually maintenance free!

No matter what material you use to keep your siding clean to prevent dirt and mildew that can shorten its lifespan.

  • Roofing: 25 Years

Most homeowners will need to re-roof their house every 20–30 years, although the type of shingles you use will impact this number. A metal roof can last even longer, up to 50 years, although it’s more expensive upfront and therefore less common.

To get the longest life out of your roof ensure you check it after inclement weather and be sure to repair it quickly to avoid more damage.

  • Deck: 35 Years :

Depending on the type of wood, your deck can last anywhere from 20–50 years. However, the average deck lasts around 35 years.

Seal your deck and keep up with minor repairs to keep it strong and sturdy for many years.

Interior:

Maintaining the interior of your home can keep it looking stylish and new. Even the most diligent cleaners will at some point have to replace worn out fixtures. Doing so proactively can help you avoid an emergency situation.

  • Carpet: 10 Years

Carpet in your home typically has a 5– 15-year lifespan. It will eventually begin to wear out (in the most traveled areas) and it will need to be evaluated. If you notice it’s starting to look dirty, matted or has a foul odor, it’s time to replace it.

It’s a maintenance best practice to steam clean your carpet often (before it becomes visibly dirty).

  • Faucets and Fixtures: 15 Years

Properly cleaned and maintained faucets and fixtures can last anywhere from 10–20 years. However, if they are not properly cleaned they can last less than 10 years. If you want to make them last, clean out hard water residue often.

  • HVAC System: 20 Years

It’s best to replace your system around 15 years which means saving up the money and having a professional in mind to fix it.

To get the longest life out of your HVAC change the filters often to avoid overworking your system.

  • Windows and Skylights: 30 Years

Windows and skylights last so long that often people forget they need to be replaced at all. Good windows will last most people from 25–35 years or more, but you will know it’s time to change them when they start looking warn, begin to suffer damage or are not insulating your home properly.

Be sure to clean window tracks twice yearly to prevent buildup and prolong their life.

  • Countertops: 15-100+ Years

It’s smart to invest in stone countertops such as granite or quartz because they last so much longer than laminate or cement countertops. Laminate countertops will last anywhere from 10-12 years, while a well-maintained stone countertop can last over 100 years!

Keep your investments safe by avoiding contact with hot surfaces or cutting directly on them. Reseal your stone countertops often and they can last a lifetime.

Appliances:

The appliances in your home are some of the easiest things to fix and some of the more inexpensive to replace. While some people replace appliances as newer technology emerges, it’s most cost-effective to use them for the duration of their lifespan.

  • Microwave: 9 Years

A microwave can last a long time if properly cared for. Usually, they last anywhere from 5–15 years and sometimes even longer depending on usage. When using your microwave, clean it often and avoid slamming the door. Never run your microwave without something inside, as it can cause serious damage.

  • Dishwasher: 10 Years

Depending on the make and model, a dishwasher can last anywhere from 7–12 years. If you start to notice your dishwasher isn’t washing well, give it a good cleaning before giving up on it.
To properly clean it, unscrew the drain and clean the filter monthly to prevent clogging. Once the filter is clean, empty the dishwasher completely (racks and all) and running it with a cup of distilled white vinegar inside it.

  • Washing Machine: 12

The average washing machine lasts between 10–15 years depending on the brand and how well it’s maintained.
To stretch its usable years further, check your washing machines water hoses for signs of wear or weakness a few times each year.

  • Dryer: 12 Years

Similar to your washing machine, your dryer should last anywhere from 10–15 years. If you buy them together, they likely will be ready to replace around the same time. If you notice it’s making strange noises or emitting strange smells, it might be nearing the end of its life.
A good maintenance best practice is to clean your lint trap before every drying session.

  • Oven: 14 Years

Ovens these days will last anywhere from 10–20 years. Don’t wait until you start ruining meals to replace your oven.

To ensure it’s running properly, inspect coil burners for deformities and replace any damaged ones.

Miscellaneous:

There are other household items that may not necessarily be fixtures or appliances but are important and should be maintained nonetheless. Things like your mattress and sprinkler system are more obvious because you use them often. However, smaller things like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and electrical wiring can cause damage if not properly maintained, so it’s important to keep your eye on them.

  • Mattress: 8 Years

Your mattress is typically used more than most other things in your house and can collect dirt, dust and grime. It’s important to get a new mattress if yours starts to look or smell dirty, or if it’s losing its firmness.

Most people get a new mattress every 7–10 years which is a good rule to follow. Make your mattress last longer by rotating it 180 degrees from head to foot every two to six months.

  • Smoke alarms: 9 Years

Three out of five home-related fire deaths occur in a house that has malfunctioning smoke detectors. It’s important to not only replace batteries every year but to replace the detectors and alarms every 8–10 years.

  • Fire extinguisher: 10 Years

It can be tough to tell how old your fire extinguisher is if you didn’t buy it yourself as some don’t have expiration or purchase dates on them.

A good way to tell if it’s working properly is to check its pressure gauge monthly to ensure the needle is in the green area of the pressure scale. If it’s damaged, has low pressure or you think it might be older than 10 years, it’s probably best to replace it.

  • Sprinkler System: 20 Years

If you’re lucky enough to have a good quality sprinkler system it can last you anywhere from 10–30 years! Take good care of it to ensure you’re on the high end of that scale. Get your backflow checked annually and drain the system of water during the winter if you’re in an area that freezes.

  • Electrical Wiring: 100+ Years

Old wiring can cause serious safety issues for you and your family. The good news is that wiring systems can last a lifetime if properly maintained. Buy an electric socket tester and routinely test your electrical outlets’ voltage.

If you start to notice low voltage, get a tingling sensation when you touch the walls, smell burning anywhere in your home or have ungrounded outlets around your house it might be time to replace it.

In general, as long as you properly maintain your appliances, fixtures and household items you should get fairly long lives out of most of them. If you also save the recommended 1% of your home’s value every year for repairs you won’t be blindsided when a costly repair does need your attention. Use this list to anticipate your product’s lifespans and enjoy stress-free home repairs.


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

7 Things That Can Go Wrong If You Hire The Wrong Real Estate Agent

Buying a home is the biggest investment you’ll likely ever make, and it has all sorts of implications for your personal and financial future. This is why it’s so important to work with the right agent.

Too many people don’t realize just how much can go wrong if they make the wrong hire. There are some very serious problems that can arise if you accidentally work with the wrong person to buy or sell a home. Here are some of them:

1. Not listening

A professional real estate agent (or any other professional for that matter) will take the time to listen and understand their client and the client’s needs. The wrong one, however, isn’t going to listen to what you have to say, and will instead focus on what they want for themselves.

This will set the precedent for the rest of the process and make any real estate transaction a miserable experience. An agent who doesn’t take the time to know your wants and needs will cause you stress, confusion and heartache.

2. Bad advice

If there’s one thing you need a competent agent for, it’s the advice they’re able to provide. A good agent will serve as your trusted advisor, guiding you through the myriad of decisions you’ll make when buying or selling a home.

A bad agent, however, will either give you advice that’s not based on any experience or research, or is just plain self-serving. This can cost you financially or prevent you from accomplishing your goals altogether.

3. Failed negotiations

Lots of people consider themselves good negotiators, but very few actually are. While negotiating might be just one part of real estate, it’s an important one. You need someone on your side who’s working in your best interests in a competent and effective way.

A bad agent will either negotiate in such a way that attainable deals fall through, or will simply negotiate in their own best-interests rather than the interest of their clients (you).

4. Lack of responsiveness

This may or may not be one of your pet-peeves, but unresponsiveness in something as complex as a real estate transaction can be an absolute nightmare for the person whose money, home, and future are on the line.

A great agent is available most any time you need them (within reason). The wrong one, however, will let your calls, messages, and emails go unanswered while you worry yourself sick about what’s happening (or not happening).

5. Missed opportunities

Real estate is a business that moves quickly, especially when the market is hot. Even when there’s high demand, there are still opportunities for buyers, and a good agent will know how to spot them and take advantage quickly.

The wrong agent will miss good opportunities because they’re unable to recognize them, will move too slowly and miss them, or just generally not care.

6. Legal pitfalls

Real estate is complex by nature, and legal questions arise on a frequent basis. Thankfully, good agents have the knowledge and resourcefulness to help you navigate them and can find solutions even if they’re not immediately apparent.

Hiring the wrong agent will mean that when the inevitable problems creep up during the transaction, they’ll either give you the wrong advice on what to do, or will simply look at you and shrug their shoulders.

7. The process won’t be enjoyable

There’s no rule that says a real estate transaction has to be unpleasant. Yes, it’s a lengthy process that has lots of implications. But if you take a step back and think about it, buying or selling a home is usually a positive thing—whether it’s an upgrade, a money-saving downgrade, or a general lifestyle change. You should work with someone who can at least make it a pleasant experience.

And that’s the thing about hiring the wrong agent. They’re all but guaranteed to make the process one that you won’t enjoy.

So choose your next real estate agent wisely; your happiness—and the height of your high five when it’s over—will likely depend on it.

 


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 2:25 am
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

You Can Still Find Your Dream Home During The COVID-19 Pandemic

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is our new normal—and could continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future. But staying at home and keeping a safe distance from others isn’t preventing real estate agents from helping their clients or potential buyers from exploring and finding their dream homes—they’re just having to get creative.

Thanks to video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, virtual tours are becoming the go-to method for real estate agents to show their properties—and for would-be buyers to continue to explore homes while they’re social distancing at home. Just how popular are these video walkthroughs? According to recent data from Redfin, requests for agent-led video home tours increased a whopping 500 percent last week.

The Takeaway:

What does this mean for you? The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t have to put your home search on hold. Thanks to technology, you can continue to tour properties and find the right home for you and your family—all from a safe distance.


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 2:24 am
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Median Sales Price Up 7.4 Percent Year Over Year

Much of the country was still under stay at home orders during the month of April. But that didn’t stop buyers, including first-time buyers, from hitting the market. It also didn’t stop sellers from successfully selling their homes—many for a higher price than they may have anticipated.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors outlined in a recent article from REALTOR® Magazine, the median sales price for existing homes in April 2020 was $286,000—up 7.4 percent year-over-year. And of the homes that sold in April, more than one-third (36 percent) were first-time buyers—a jump of 4 percent from April 2019.

The Takeaway:

So, what does that mean for you? Home prices are holding strong. As states continue to lift restrictions, more buyers will likely hit the market. Despite the challenges, the housing market emerged strong in April, and should continue to get stronger as we move forward—so if you’re thinking about selling your home, now is a great time to make a move.


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 2:22 am
Al Brucker | Posted in Uncategorized |

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