How to Build a Winning Home Buying Team

Buying a home is a huge milestone – especially if you are buying for your first time. Although buying a home is exciting, there is a lot to keep track of and manage. It’s imperative to have a solid team behind you. Aside from having an excellent real estate agent to guide you through showings and the closing process, there are other essential people that you should have on deck.

Meet your home buying team:

1. Real estate agent: Your agent will help you research the homes that cater to your needs, negotiate with the seller, and help you find the rest of your home buying team. (Learn more about how your agent can help you.)

2. Lender: If you’re purchasing a home, you will most likely need a loan. Your lender can come from your bank, mortgage company, credit union, etc. Once you apply for a loan the lender will then decide if you qualify.

3. Home Inspector: An inspector will make sure that the home you hope to purchase is in good shape. Even if the seller has already had the home inspected, it’s a good idea to have someone else double-check and triple-check.

4. Appraiser: An appraiser will determine a “fair price” for the home by evaluating the home and comparing it to similar homes on the market. It is best to have an appraiser come before you negotiate with the seller.

5. Attorney: Your attorney will write contracts, settle any disputes, and review all documents before the closing.

6. Escrow officer: An escrow officer takes care of everything happening during escrow—the amount of time between when the purchase contract is signed and the date of the closing. The officer works for both the buyer and seller. Their main job is to hold onto all the documents and money during escrow, making sure that everything is taken care of.

With a team of professionals to take you step by step through the process, you’ll have a very positive home buying experience so that you can enjoy what matters most – your new home.

Recommended Reading:

-Open House Advice for Buyers

-On the Road Again: The Ultimate Moving Checklist

-We Asked, You Answered: Advice for First-Time Homeowners

 

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How to Incorporate Collections into Your Home

Your home should be a reflection of you and your family. Incorporate your personality into your home decor by displaying family collections. Your collections tell stories that deserve to be told – and represented throughout your home.



Get creative and find a place for all of your cherished collections. Here are a few sample ideas to get you started. Modify them according to your collection of choice.

1. Stamps: Do you have a bevy of vintage or one-of-a-kind stamps? Frame pages of stamps. Display your framed collections on mantels, in your entryway, or even create a gallery wall.

2. Crystal Figurines: Display your figurines in glass cases or on a shelf near a window. The light from the windows and glass will reflect on the figurines and make them sparkle beautifully.

3. Matchboxes: If you have a collection of fancy, beautifully designed matchboxes, put them out for show. Group them together on an end table or in an armoire with glass panels.

4. Antiques: One of the most popular collections to display in a home is antiques. Whether it’s antique furniture, picture frames, or something as small as a breadbox, place them in their appropriate room for added decor. Display them in different rooms so that you remember the story behind them whenever you see them.

5. Travel Souvenirs: Save travel souvenirs like museum tickets, plane tickets, and even currency. Put them in memory boxes and frame them throughout your home. Hang a map with pins representing every place you’ve traveled as a family.

6. Any other quirky item: Any collectible has the ability to be hung up on a wall. Creating a gallery wall is the easiest, no fuss way to display your items. Grouping similar picture frames, silver trays, or any other like items on a blank wall in your home creates a focal point of beautiful decor.

Displaying your beloved and timeless collections throughout your home is not only a great way to display your interests, but it’s also a great conversation starter.

Recommended Reading:

-5 Creative DIY Projects You Can Do with Wallpaper

-Old to New: Tips for Rearranging Your Furniture

-How to Make a House a Home: Creating Memories

 

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How to Turn Your Bathroom into a Spa-Inspired Escape

Your home should feel like a calm and comfortable space where you can unwind, relax, and recharge. Here are tangible ways to let the soothing qualities of a day at the spa inspire your bathroom decor.

1. Aromatherapy: Choose scents that match your desired mood and intention. If you are stressed, nervous, or can’t sleep use scents like bergamot, chamomile, cinnamon, lavender, clove, rose, sandalwood, or vanilla. If you are feeling a bit melancholy, use scents like clary sage, cypress, or marjoram. Tired and fatigued? Try cinnamon, cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, lemon, peppermint, sage, or spiced apple. Learn more at Underground Health, then set up a collection that makes scents for you!

2. Vanity: You’ll feel like a celebrity when you do your makeup at your vanity. As an extra perk, you can keep all of your beauty products and jewelry organized and accessible.

3. Mood Lighting: Skip the florescent bulbs. Your lighting affects your mood. Take some cues from the New York Times article, LEDs Change Thinking About the Light Bulb.

4. Calm Colors: Use the principles of color psychology when you choose your paint colors. In an interview with WebMD the color consultant Leslie Harrington recommends painting the bathroom in shades of blue, green, or turquoise. These colors, “give a sense of being clean and fresh — and calm.”

5. Little Luxuries: Incorporate little luxuries like, fresh flowers, a heated towel rack, pretty soaps and storage containers, a bath pillow, bath salts, fluffy bathrobes, and an additional shower head.

6. Storage Space: Keep your bathroom clean, open, and clutter-free. Recent studies have shown that clutter causes stress. Don’t let a mess ruin your at-home oasis.

Now the only thing left to do is to draw a bath, pick up a good book, and relax.

Recommended Reading:

-5 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall

-5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

-Be My Guest: How to Style a Guest Room

 

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4 Books for Boosting Your Career

Is improving your profession one of your New Year’s resolutions? Pick up a book. You can learn so much from other people’s paths, experiences, and advice. There is a wealth of books that can provide the insights you need to make your career goals attainable.

Here are four books that can boost your career.

1. Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell:

This book will help you discover what you want out of a profession, and how you can measure your success. Filled with exercises and inspirational stories from successful professionals, this is a book that will surely help you find out how to be successful – on your own terms.

2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg:

This is another book linked to both professional and personal lives. Duhigg analyzes why people act the way they do, both in their careers and in everyday life. It’s hard to change a habit once it’s formed. The book examines the habits of successful people and shows you how positive habits can help you. Falling into a business routine can stunt your growth. This book helps you understand why you do what you do, and how you can help change it.

3. Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus:
Real estate is a business where you need to sell, not only houses, but also yourself. You have to show clients that you’re a leader in your field. Selling yourself is something that most people struggle with but this book helps you talk about your assets without sounding conceited.

4. Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark:

Throughout the course of your profession, it’s important to keep things fresh and new. Reinventing yourself and changing things up is a necessary step in order to keep growing, despite what stage your professional life is in. Clark gives realistic advice on how to showcase your talents and skills, and how you can constantly reinvent yourself. She interviews successful business people, offering a broad spectrum of advice.

These books are filled with knowledge and advice that can guide you on the right path, no matter the stage of your profession.

Recommended Reading:

-5 New Year’s Resolutions for Real Estate Agents

-Tech Talk: 5 Apps for Real Estate Agents

-5 Essential Networking Tips for Real Estate Agents

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Does Your Home Meet The Electrical Codes?

Contribution from Home Advisor.

You may not be an electrician, but you should know whether or not your home’s electrical system is up to code. Electric codes are put in place to protect you and your home from an electrical fire — and failure to ensure that your system meets these codes could put you at risk of serious harm and property damage. Don’t know what to look for?

Below is a quick list of the safety measures each room in your house should contain. It’s also a good idea to research and calculate your electrical costs before hiring an electrician.

Kitchen

Kitchen lights courtesy of Provident Electric, LLC

There should be a separate circuit for every motor-powered appliance in your kitchen. This includes the:

●     Garbage disposal

●     Refrigerator

●     Microwave

●     Dishwasher

The electric code dictates that you should have a minimum of two receptacle circuits above your countertop for plug-in items like portable appliances. Your cooktops, electric ranges and ovens should be wired to a dedicated 240-volt circuit. If your kitchen doesn’t have any of these features, you need to have it rewired. This will avoid power outage in cases when too many appliances are plugged in at one time, and it will be much safer as well. If you need to install additional circuits for your appliances, you can hire an electrician who might charge between $370 and $550 for their services, depending on the extent of the work and your location.

Bathroom

A 20-amp circuit is required just for your fan, heater and light — and another 20-amp circuit is required for your electrical outlet. Your outlets should also have ground fault current interrupters (GFCIs). Depending on how many bathrooms you have and how many people live in your home, there could be a hairdryer, electric razor, curling iron, heater, fan and lights drawing electricity at the same time. If this is the case, your bathroom uses an abundance of power, and it might need more than a single circuit.

Additionally, make sure that all of your light fixtures are covered with globes or lenses and that they’re moisture resistant if they are placed near your tub or shower area.

Stairway lights courtesy of Tru-Line Electric, Inc.

Stairway

For safety’s sake, all of the stairs in your home should be well lit. Ensure there are three-way switches at the bottom and top of the stairs. There’s a possibility you might have to invest in more lighting fixture installations if you have any turning stairs.

Bedroom, Living and Dining Rooms

These rooms require a switch on the wall next to the entry door, which can either be a wall light, a ceiling light or an outlet that connects to a lamp. Any fixtures on the ceiling must be controlled with a wall switch instead of a pull chain. All wall receptacles must be positioned no more than 12 feet apart. Usually, dining rooms need a separate 20-amp circuit for a single outlet, which may be used for appliances.

Hallways

There should be enough light in your hallways that shadows do not form when you’re walking down them. This is important because hallways are escape routes during bad weather conditions and emergencies, and everyone in your home needs to be able to easily see where they’re going if they’re in a hurry. If your hall is more than ten feet long, it should include a general purpose outlet and three-way switches at both ends. If you have several points of entry throughout your hallway, consider adding four-way switches to the exterior circuit near doors.

Garage

Lighting in your garage should be controlled by at least a single switch — preferably a three-way switch for your convenience. Electric code requires that garages have a separate GFCI circuit for at least one outlet. If exterior outlets are linked, they must be linked to either a GFCI breaker or a GFCI outlet.

 

If you’re ever in doubt about whether your home’s electrical system is up to code, it’s best to consult an electrician and have it inspected. Making adjustments and additions may be a pain, but they are required for a reason — to help keep you, your home and your family safe.

 

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Best Linkedin Practices for Real Estate Agents

LinkedIn is an essential tool for professionals. The platform currently has over 300 million users who use it to showcase and share their professional accomplishments. Think of LinkedIn like a public version of your resume, and a community of like-minded peers. If you’ve already tackled the standard social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest now it’s time to use LinkedIn to help promote yourself and your business.

Here are four best practices.

1. Join and participate in groups: There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn that cater to a wide range of industries. Join groups related to real estate and show your thought leadership by being an active participant. Engage and participate in discussions, respond to questions, and ask questions of your own.

2. Share content: It’s recommended that you not share listings on LinkedIn because your connections are not your target market. Instead of sharing listings, we recommend that you share content that shows that you are a thought leader. Use the Rich Media Button to post videos, blog posts, images, documents, and presentations.

3. Optimize your profile: Add keywords to your profile to increase the likelihood that it will come up in search. Use words that are specific to your niche and your location to push your profile to the top of searches. For example, if you do residential listings in Charlotte, North Carolina, make sure those words are included somewhere in your profile.

4. Customize your URL: Change your standard LinkedIn URL to a URL that contains your first and last name. This will make it easier for clients and fellow REALTORS® to identify you.

LinkedIn is providing a new and unique outlet for people to build their personal brand, share advice and insights, and be regarded as an industry expert. These tips will help you do just that.

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6 Homes Nominated for the Globes

Roll out the red carpet. It’s award season. There were so many fantastic movies and television shows in 2014. It’s hard to choose a winner, but we’ve done some of the work for you by nominating one house that could be straight from the set of some of our favorite films and small screen shows. And the winners are…

1. We could see Cinderella escaping Into the Woods from her duties at this spacious home. Luckily she’ll be able to switch her rags for riches, love, and a walk-in closet full of glass slippers.

2. This doesn’t look like a House of Cards, but we’re sure President Underwood wouldn’t protest vacationing here with First Lady Claire. Sometimes you just have to get away from The White House. There is plenty of room for scheming, plotting, and presidential duties.

3. This seems like the perfect home to Get Away with Murder. We could practically see Professor Keating and her prodigies sitting in the living room till the early hours of the morning, solving their latest case.

4. These brownstone homes are fit for all the Girls. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna are bound to get themselves into some sort of trouble while living here. The nearby coffee shops are a perfect place for Hannah to work on her writing — she is the voice of her generation, after all.

5. This home is fit for the entire Crawley clan. We’re sure the Earl and Countess of Grantham would thoroughly enjoy living in this abbey. There is also plenty of space for the sprawling staff.

6. This home could belong to Amy and Nick Dunne, before Amazing Amy’s disappearance that is. It’s big enough and just creepy enough to be the site of an alleged murder and the morbid mystery that follows.

We wish luck to all of the houses and casts nominated for tonight’s accolades.

Recommended Reading:

-Carrie, Seinfeld, and Friends: NYC Apartments Straight From the Screen

-What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie? 10 Real Houses Where Your Favorite Scary Movie May Have Occurred

-Let the Games Begin: Which District Should You Live In?

 

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5 Ways to Help Save Money in 2015

Saving money is typically a New Year’s resolution, but it’s not always as easy as one would hope. One of the best ways to save money is to make improvements at home.

Follow these steps to help cut spending and, simultaneously, improve your home.

1. Install dimmers: Putting dimmers on your lights will decrease your energy bill. You don’t always need full lighting in a room and there are times when it would actually be beneficial to have more control over your lighting. According to DoItYourself.com, dimmer switches save 98% of energy compared to normal light switches, potentially decreasing your energy bill by 10%.

2. Close closet doors: This may sound odd, but closing your closet doors will save you money. Your house will heat or cool these spaces if the doors are open so, if you keep them closed, you won’t be wasting energy on unused spaces.

3. Organize the pantry: Keeping a well-organized pantry or food closet is essential for a happy home and it will also save you money. If you keep your pantry neat and tidy, you’ll be able to see exactly what groceries you have and what you need to stock up on.

4. DIY cleaning products: Save a few extra dollars every month by using items like vinegar and lemon juice to create your own cleaning products. DIY cleaning products are easy and inexpensive to make and you won’t need to rush out to the store when you run out.

5. Use cold water: Using cold water in your laundry will greatly decrease your energy bill. Most clothes will wash the same in cold water versus hot. Hot water uses more energy, so switch over to cold.

Making these small changes around the house will add up.

Recommended Reading:

-Money Matters: How to Decrease Your Energy Bill this Winter

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

-Winter is Coming: How to Prep Your Home for Winter

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5 DIY Projects to Tackle this Year

With the New Year in full swing, take this fresh start as a time to complete some fun DIY projects. You’ll save money and get the satisfaction of having made something yourself. Take out your paint brush and your tool kit and get started.

Tackle one project at a time and you can have an improved home in no time.

1. Install a new backsplash: You can instantly alter the aesthetic of your kitchen by sprucing up your backsplash. There are lots of creative ways to DIY a backsplash. Tile, stainless steel, glass, chalkboard, or mosaics are all lovely options. Regardless of what you choose, you can pay a fraction of the price by doing it yourself instead of hiring a professional.

2. Change your architecture: Change your architecture – without hiring an architect or needing a wrecking ball. Add a chair rail and/or crown molding to give your room texture and depth. Take the proper measurements, then head down to your hardware store to get the materials you need.

3. Paint cabinets: Whether it’s your bathroom or your kitchen cabinets, adding a fresh coat of paint can make the room feel brand new while also adding value to your home. This DIY project doesn’t take much time or money.

4. Curb Appeal: Make a good first impression. Paint your front door, change the address numbers, add a unique knocker, and repair or paint the exterior trim. This is another quick and easy DIY that project that can make your home feel new again.

5. Paint: Paint your interior for an instant upgrade and shift to your decor. Change a light colored wall to a dark one for a completely different look, or simply repaint with the same color to make the room look fresh again. You can also put up wallpaper to add a more detailed design.

DIY projects don’t have to take a lot of time or money. Projects like these can be done in a few days and you could end up with an improved home at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional.

Recommended Reading:

-Creative DIY Projects You Can Do with Wallpaper

-Just DIY It: 5 Natural Cleaning Products

-How to Style a Gallery Wall

 

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7 Ways to Combat Clutter in the New Year

The New Year is the time for a fresh start.It brings a feeling of starting over, and an opportunity to improve all areas of your life. In the New Year, take some time to complete projects you’ve been putting off for months. You can create an even better home for you and your family by decluttering and organizing your home.

Follow these tips for easy and quick ways to de-clutter your home.

1. Keep things at arms reach: Keep items you use daily somewhere where they can be easily reached, whether that’s in a basket, on a shelf, or in a cabinet. Store everything that is used sparingly on a higher shelf or in the garage or attic. It will be easier to find what you need when you need it.

2.  Add shelves: If your home is cluttered adding more furniture won’t help. Instead of adding a bookshelf or desk, add wall shelving.  You’ll have room for books, picture frames, paperwork, and even a television without cluttering your home with more furniture.

3. 12-12-12 Challenge: This challenge comes from BecomingMinimalist.com, and is a simple project to add to your routine. Clean and organize by choosing 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 to return to a proper place in your home.  This helps you organize, declutter, and give to a good cause all at the same time!

4. Garage storage: Make your garage your main storage area. Use old dressers and other furniture to store seasonal items and items you don’t use daily. Paint the furniture the same color to create a unified look.

5. Get rid of broken items: There’s no point in keeping items that are broken or unused, they’re just taking up precious space in your home. If you haven’t used it or gotten it fixed in the past six months, you probably never will. Throw it out or donate it to make room for something new.

6. Use things up: It’s a habit to save special items for special occasions, whether it’s fancy bath soap or an expensive spice. Stop saving these things for the right time, use them and enjoy them now. Use what you have before you buy something new to help keep clutter at bay.

7. Deal with one room at a time: Take it step by step. Organize and declutter one room at a time, makes it easier to focus on the task at hand. If you try to juggle too many rooms at once, it may never get done.

Go through these tasks every few months to help maintain an organized home. A decluttered home can give you and your family peace of mind – and room for something new.

Recommended Reading:

-Old to New: Tips for Rearranging Your Furniture

-Small Changes, Big Difference: 5 Low Cost Ways to Make Your Home Appear Larger

-How to Make a House a Home: Creating Memories

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