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Buyers: As is Property 101

by Denise D'Amico
 
For Buyers: As-is Property 101

 

Most people interested in buying a home have come across, at one time or another, property advertised for sale "as-is." Here are a few guidelines to help you decide whether considering such a home is right for you.

What it means
An as-is description isn't necessarily a red flag that there's something wrong with the house. It simply means that the sellers will not be doing any repairs. The reasons could be financial – the sellers simply can't afford it or the transaction is a short sale. Or maybe it's personal – the sellers already left the area or their health and/or age won't permit them to oversee the work. Many banks and lenders selling foreclosed properties (REO properties) also will offer them on an as-is basis. And in some highly competitive markets, many homes are sold as-is because buyers are motivated enough to take the risk.

Disclosures
Talk with your real estate agent about disclosure laws in your state. In most areas, owners, including those involved in as-is sales, must fill out a disclosure form – a list of all known problems associated with their property. If during the inspection you come across previously undisclosed conditions that require significant, cost-prohibitive investment, you most likely can still walk away. 

Inspection
Inspections always are a crucial part of the process of buying a home, and in the case of an as-is home, a careful, thorough inspection is even more important. Your agent may be able to refer a reliable inspector experienced in looking at these kinds of properties. Be sure to get estimates on the various necessary repairs so you're not blindsided by the costs after you finalize your purchase.

Denise D'Amico can be your guide through the entire home-buying process​.

MAY 2014 National Housing Report

by Denise D'Amico

 

Ease Into Gardening Season With Containers

by Denise D'Amico
 
 
Ease Into Gardening Season With Containers

 

If you're ready for gardening but the weather – or the level of gardening skill in your house – is still too unpredictable, consider potted plants and flowers.

Container gardening is probably the quickest way to bring a flash of color – and a touch of class – to your entryway or yard.  Best of all, anyone can do it – and inexpensively, too.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • ​Unless you have a large budget, stick to terra cotta pots available in most home-improvement stores. For the price of one glazed ceramic pot, you can often get at least a couple of terra cotta ones. If you want to jazz them up, head to your nearest craft store and ask for terra cotta sealer and paint that will help you transform these humble vessels into eye-catching decorative statements.
  • ​Whatever kind of pot you decide on, make sure it has drain holes at the bottom to prevent root rot. ​If you're reusing old pots, make sure you clean them well with warm water, a mild dish detergent and a gentle brush. This will help to keep your flowers healthy in the event the previous plant was diseased.
  • If you chose a large pot, place large pebbles or rocks at the bottom before you pour in the soil. This will help the drainage holes from getting clogged or the soil from seeping out.
  • Don't set your potted plants right on a wood deck. Raise it to make cleaning underneath easier, and to avoid wood warping from water overflow. You should be watering frequently because many pots are porous and tend to dry out quickly.
  • ​Potting soil, mixed with compost, is usually recommended for container gardens. However, many people find that regular planting soil (which costs less) that's enriched with plant food and watered regularly works well, too.
  • Start with plants that thrive in cool weather. Few plants pack such an early visual punch as pansies, especially if you plant one color per pot. Pansies are hardy, widely available, don't cost a lot, and you can put them out right now.  Snapdragons and Lenten Rose also are good options.

Finally, a word of caution! Container gardening can be addictive and it isn't just for decoration. You can grow everything from herbs and vegetables to evergreens and small trees in appropriately sized pots. And because container gardening is growing in popularity, it can often enhance the desirability of a home, condo or townhome for sale.

If selling your home is in your plans, contact Denise D'Amico. She can advise other easy ways to enhance the look of your home, and what kinds of gardens appeal most to buyers in your area.

6 Decisions to Make Before the Home Search

by Denise D'Amico
 
 
6 Decisions to Make Before the Home Search

 

In the market for a new home but have no idea where to start? There are several decisions you should begin to make before you even start your home search. By asking yourself the right questions, you can quickly pinpoint what you want – and can afford – in your next home.

1. What's your budget? See how your finances stand up to the 28/36 rule, which lenders use to see what you can afford to pay each month. A financial adviser or your real estate agent also can help you crunch the numbers. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process lets you know how much lenders will allow you to borrow – plus it helps you show sellers that you have the funds to backup your offer.

2. What do you need in your new home? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? What about a large kitchen, a home office or a playroom for the kids? How many cars need covered parking? It's critically important to ensure the home you select meets your family and lifestyle needs.

3. Do you want a condo or single-family home? Condos come with much less maintenance. You typically won't be shoveling snow in the winter or replacing the roof, but you'll likely pay monthly association fees to cover services and repairs in the community. Houses, on the other hand, come with more privacy and freedom to customize. They also come with full responsibility for maintenance.

4. How do you feel about living under covenants? Depending on where you buy, you may have to pay homeowner association (HOA) fees in addition to your mortgage. There are benefits to HOAs, such as maintenance, community centers, and maybe even a pool or gym. But you also could be faced with more restrictive rules about the look of the outside of your home, down to the color of your front door, types of window coverings, and whether you can plant flowers in your yard.

5. What school district do you want to be near? Even if you don't have children in the house, local schools will affect your property value. Prospective homebuyers tend to search with education in mind. Do your research on the schools in the areas you'd like to live in.

6. Should the home be move-in ready? Ask yourself how much elbow grease you're willing to put into a home – or how much you'll pay someone else to do the work. Fixer-upper homes can be great after the work is done, but you'll want to figure out your renovation budget before you start your home search. A 203k home-renovation loan might be the right resource for you. If you're not ready for the extra financial commitment of rehabbing a home, or you can't or don't want to wait for remodeling projects to finish up, then a home that's move-in ready might be right for you.

After considering all these factors, you'll be ready to start the home search with a clearer picture of where you're headed.

Improve The Safety of Your Home

by Denise D'Amico

 

IMPROVE THE SAFETY of YOUR HOME

When we think of home, we think of both physical and psychological shelter. We want to go there and relax, free of everyday worries, and just spend some quality time with our families, and it never occurs to us that there are hazards that lurk. To give you a simple number, over 2500 people die annually due to home fires, and when we include all the other hazards, that number goes way up. So, we have made an all-encompassing guide that will provide you with some tips about safety, and, hopefully, help you improve the overall safety of your home.

 

Fire

Most of the fires start in the kitchen, mostly because people leave their appliances unattended for a prolonged periods of time. About 7 people die each day in home fires. The fire is extremely fast, and it only needs about 30 seconds to completely destroy a room. The thick smoke and toxic flames it produces kill more people than the actual heat of the fire. This is why it is extremely important to react quickly and appropriately. Burning oil in a frying pan cannot be put out with water, only with a fire extinguisher, and that is why you should always have at least one in your house, especially in the kitchen. Smoke detectors are of crucial importance as they will notify all the occupants and give you enough time to react or evacuate. Smoke or carbon-monoxide detectors should be placed in the bedrooms, hallways, and kitchens. In some countries, new regulations require that all new houses must have a sprinkler system installed. This can totally suppress fire, or give you enough time to rescue yourself, children and the elderly, and call for help.

Electricity

We take electricity for granted, and the consequences of it cannot be seen until it is too late. Electric shocks can knock you unconscious, or slow down and stop your heartbeat and cause burns. If you have small children, it is of the essence to prevent them from sticking anything into electric sockets. Never use any appliances that were not approved for your country, and do not use any appliances near bathtubs or sinks. Do not make any electrical repairs, but if you absolutely have to, turn off the circuit breakers or make sure that there is no danger. Always hire a professional to do this sort of repairs and installations for you, as you are not trained to deal with these sort of situations. If there is an incident, do not touch anyone who has been electrocuted without shutting off all the power sources first. Check all the electrical installations regularly and make sure that they are safe for use and not showing any signs of damage.

Burglary

Making sure that your house safety is not only limited to fires, electricity and water incidents, but it also includes making sure that your property, and its occupants, are safe from any form of intrusion. There is a burglary happening every 14 seconds in the US, and that is why we recommend that you take actions against it. Installing special sensors that can detect movement (such as a passive infrared sensor) could alert you of any intrusion, and this can be very important. Glass break sensors can also be used, as they are set to detect special vibrations that are produced when a window is broken. This all will activate the alarm which will act as a deterrent, scaring off the intruder, but will also serve to notify you and your family as well as the authorities. Activate the alarm when you are sleeping, and especially when you are away, and make sure to regularly check that the sensors are working properly. Again, make sure to hire a professional company that specializes in home and business security.

Of course, the list doesn’t end here. There are many more safety tips if you have small children or the elderly in your home. Special attention must be given to security measures for them, as they can be unable to properly react in the case of emergency. The best advice that we could give you is not to take these things lightly. If these accidents happen, it will be too late, and that is why you must be prepared. Do thorough research and try to find a professional opinion about how you can improve the safety of your home and making life easier for you and your family.

 

Be Cautious of Moving Mistakes You Can Make

by Denise D'Amico

 

Be Cautious of Moving Mistakes You Can Make

Do you know what the Tuesday after Memorial Day is? It is the busiest day of the year for people to move items into self-storage and one of the most popular days of the year to move, earning it the name "National Moving Day."

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

We've all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you've been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie's List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues -- are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you've done your research and still aren't confident in the movers you've come across, you always can go the DIY route -- just be sure you're up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won't do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, don't rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven't laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to "edit" your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven't seen, worn or used something in a year, it's best to think hard about whether you need to keep it -- and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks -- or, better yet, months -- in advance. You don't want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you're supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

You'll find very few people who'll say that packing is fun. In fact, a 2013 survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who'd moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won't need right away -- for instance, if you're moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they're out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you've got plenty of food and beverages as a "thank you" for your volunteer helpers. If you can't rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.

Garbage Free Day

by Denise D'Amico

 

ENCOURAGEMENT CORNER

 

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us! 

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, really friendly. So I asked, “Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!” This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck.” He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage (frustration, anger, and disappointment, etc.). As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. 

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so… love the people who treat you right & pray for the ones who don’t. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it! Have a Great and Garbage-FREE Day.  

 

Interior Design Trend Alert - Metal

by Denise D'Amico

 

Interior Design Trend Alert

When you think of heavy metal, what comes to mind? If you just put both hands over your head, made dual peace signs, and started banging your head like some ‘80s hair band singer... well, we'd be lying if we said we didn't do the same.

But when it comes to interior design, metal has a whole different meaning. And it's right on trend now, meaning it's everywhere, from high-end shops to the Target on the corner, so you can easily incorporate it into your décor, no matter what your style.

Industrial chic

Whether you're just looking to add a piece or two to your existing décor or establish a new style, the industrial chic look is a great way to go. Old pieces with history can give your space some solid foundation with a side benefit of a great story to tell. But if you don't have one of those or don't feel like looking, head over to World Market for the Jackson Metal Tub Chair.

These new-old industrial-looking but still comfortable (we tried them!) dining chairs can bring a fresh look into your space. Target has a similarly styled metal chair that also comes in red, black, or copper for those who want the metal look with a punch of color.

Copper, copper everywhere

Renowned for its warmth look, copper has been surging for the past few years and is still going strong. You can find it in everything including the kitchen sink - lighting, wall tiles, accessories, fixtures - although we wouldn't recommend doing it all at the same time in the same space. If you're looking for a more rustic look, hammered copper might appeal to you. Looking for something a little more sleek? You've got great choices here too.

Make everything old new again

One of the easiest ways to bring the metal look into your world on the cheap is with paint. Metallic spray paint can transform a tired piece of furniture into a showpiece.

Or, go all in and paint your bedroom walls with Modern Masters metallic paint in finishes including silver, pewter, and antique nickel for a glamorous look.

Bring in the accessories

Metal accessories are available in every shape, size, style and price point.

They're easy to find, easy to introduce into almost any décor, and easy to swap out if you decide next week you need to go with wicker next week instead.

 

Repair, Declutter and Stage Your Home for Sale

by Denise D'Amico

 

Repairs, Decluttering and Staging For Sale

 

If you're getting ready to sell your home, there are a few things you should do first. At the top of the list are repairs, decluttering, and staging your home for sale. With the help of your agent and/or homestager, you can create the perfectly staged home that's eye-catching at first glance.

In today's market that's vital; buyers typically begin their search online. That means they're going to view photos and videos of homes before they decide if they want to actually go to see the home in person.

Start with rooms that tend to be the biggest attractions: the kitchen, master bedroom, and bathrooms. Declutter first. Gather up large trash bags and boxes, then sort through the clutter by either packing up things that will move with you or throwing out trash and unusable items. Use another bag for items that you'll sell or give to charity.

Don't go on to another room until you have cleared away the clutter and the personal belongings in the first room. This process can become highly unsuccessful if you bounce between rooms, moving clutter from one room to the next. The idea is to get organized by having three categories: moving boxes, charity bags, and trash.

Once, you've cleared some space, now lighten and brighten the room. If you have dark or heavy curtains or window coverings and you're selling your home in the spring or summer, consider swapping them out for a lighter color and material that's more seasonal. They don't have to be expensive. They should, however, convey a tone of cheerfulness and help to open up the room and show off its best features.

Chipping and peeling paint, cabinets that look worn, and stained countertops are all signs of wear and tear. While these things alone may not deter buyers, they do give them cause to think twice about your home. However, it's a good thing there are quick and relatively simple tricks like applying fresh paint on the walls and refinishing cabinets and/or built-in shelf-tops. These fast renovations seem like huge improvements and add value to your home.

While setting the stage for a super home sale sounds like it's all about the physical appearance, just like in life, a successful relationship evolves from having understanding and accurate expectations. In the case of selling your home, be sure you understand how your agent will market your property. Having a solid marketing strategy is key to a successful sale. Patience is also required. Even in a seller's market, being patient is important. Sometimes offers come in that are disappointing. This is when you have to have the stamina to wait things out. A willingness to negotiate and take action when the right offers come in is equally important.

Sellers are usually very busy. Life still goes on during the listing process. Selling a home adds another layer to an already busy lifestyle. So, getting the home show-ready, preparing necessary paper work, and taking timely and efficient care of other personal matters will benefit everyone. If you work with your real estate agent to do your part and set the stage for sale, it's likely you'll achieve exactly that.

Call Denise D'Amico today if you need any assistance preparing your home for sale.

 

Let's Work Together.

by Denise D'Amico

 

LET'S WORK TOGETHER

All year long, RE/MAX agents have a warm, fuzzy feeling in their hearts. That's because over the past two decades and counting, agents from across the U.S. and Canada have donated $130 million to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. They donated more than $8 million in 2013 alone!

Here's how it works: RE/MAX agents can label houses as a Miracle Home® – or Miracle Property on commercial property. You'll notice them by the yellow Miracle Balloon logo on RE/MAX yard signs and as you search for homes on remax.com. Each time one of these properties sells, the agent makes a donation to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. RE/MAX agents working with homebuyers also make donations. Also, there are countless golf tournaments, auctions and other great fundraisers RE/MAX agents host and sponsor year-round – all to support the hospitals right in their communities.

And hospitals use the money where it's needed most. Each year, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada treat 17 million kids.

During the summer – the hottest selling season of the year – is the RE/MAX Month of Miracles. Each August, agents raise even more money – and awareness of the good things happening at CMN Hospitals.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, you'll be glad you spent them watching this video:

 

 

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