Upsizing Your Home: Read this first


Before taking the plunge to go bigger, take a moment to ask yourself these important questions.

  • First of all, why are you considering an upsize?
    • What is it that your current home isn’t fulfilling for you? Know what this is, so that you can weigh the option of updating your current property or if it’s time to move on. Also look into the bigger picture, like the kind of community you want to live in, the school district, commute to work, and your lifestyle.
  • Think realistically: What are you future goals?
    • How long do you plan to stay in the home? How might your needs change?
      • Will your family size change? Do you dream of having a certain animals? etc.
      • Buy a home that fits with your lifestyle and goals. As your local Lake Norman Realtor®, I can help you find a home that’s as unique as you are. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me to talk about your goals, plans, and expectations.
  • What can you afford, what do you WANT to afford?
    • There is a difference in what you CAN afford (are qualified for) and what you WANT to afford (the lifestyle you want to live).
      • Take a moment to reflect on your current lifestyle and budget. Buying a bigger home, could mean more financial responsibility. (maintenance costs, mortgage, insurance, etc.)
      • Do you have hobbies, vacations, charities, or other things you enjoy doing that you may have to push aside if your home costs increase? If so, is it worth it? After all, life is about making memories and having life experiences. (in my opinion)
    • Know that you can afford to move up and still maintain your lifestyle. 🙂
  • How will you use the extra space?
    • Don’t let your money go to waste. Yes, that home may have more square footage than your current home. But does that mean it’s usable space for your needs?
      • Do you really need more bedrooms? What will you do with them? Do you have a vision for the “bonus room,” or will it end up as empty space? When you think of a bigger home/yard, envision what that means for you and how you’ll use the space.
  • Should you buy first, or sell first?
    • I recommend you sell your home before purchasing a new one. However, in some situations it may make sense for you to buy before you sell. If this is the case, do your best to:
      • Know what your home will likely sell for, think realistically and count on the low end of the range to be safe.
      • Get a 90 day closing on your home purchase to allow you more time to sell and avoid the stress of being in a time crunch.
      • List your home as soon as the due diligence is over for your new home purchase.
  • Know your options, should you choose to sell your home before you buy a new one:
    • I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s a HOT seller’s market right now. This means that sellers have the upper hand. Here are some options to keep in mind allowing you time to find a new home:
      • Request a seller lease-back from the buyer. It’s important you discuss this with the buyer(s) before accepting an offer. You and the buyers can negotiate the terms of the lease back (amount of time, compensation, utilities, etc.) This allows you as the seller more time to procure a new home.
      • You may also ask for a longer closing period to give you more time to get into a new home. I would suggest waiting until due diligence is over to make an offer on another home. The reason for this is:
        • 1. It allows you to give a stronger offer (showing you have a serious offer on your home, past the due diligence period and highly likely to close).
        • 2. Gives you more peace of mind that the buyer has done their due diligence and are moving forward with the purchase. Of course, in certain circumstances the buyer can still back out of the contract after due diligence, but this doesn’t usually happen. If it does, the buyer would likely be forfeiting their earnest money deposit.

In conclusion

Know your why, your motivation for a bigger home. Is it necessary to move to fulfill your desire? Know what lifestyle you want to live, can you afford (preapproved from your lender) the upsize and maintain this lifestyle? Envision yourself in this bigger home, do you have a vision for the extra space? Or do you simply just “feel” like more space would be better? Knowing your why, will help you envision how you want your home to be. If you’ve decided that it’s time to upsize, make a game plan. Are you going to sell first, or buy first?

Reach out to me to discuss your goals, strategies, and options to get you where you want to be. 🙂 You can schedule time on my calendar here. Or feel free to call, text, or email me at anytime.

(704)951-4017 or Maranda.Christensen@exprealty.com

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CREATE A MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK


Many homeowners would love to invest in making their property more energy-efficient. Going green can save you a lot of money over time and is great for the environment, but the up-front costs can be significant. Fortunately, there are some energy-efficient changes you can make to your home without draining too much of your bank account.


Seal air leaks: As much as 20 percent of the energy used to regulate temperature in a home can be lost to air leaks. You can seal doors and windows with weather stripping and the project will usually cost less than $200. If you’re in search of a professional quote, let me know. I’ve got a book of professionals on standby and ready to help! Contact me here or simply call/text 704-951-4017.

Smart thermostats: Older thermostats are usually inefficient because they only have a few settings. A smart thermostat like Nest can be programmed to reduce heating/cooling when you’re not at home or during the hours when you’re asleep. The energy savings you will see usually equal the cost of the thermostat after a year or two.

Change your light bulbs: LED light bulbs are expensive, but require just a small percentage of the energy incandescent bulbs require. A cheap incandescent bulb uses about $15 of electricity a year (if it lasts that long). An LED bulb costs $25, but uses less than $5 worth of electricity per year and will last up to 11 years.


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TIPS FOR HIRING A MOVING COMPANY


The process of moving can seem daunting, but with a little help from a reliable moving company, a lot of stress can be relieved. Here are some tips to make sure your belongings are in safe hands.


Get references from friends and family. You should always do you research thoroughly, reading review sites and local articles and blogs, however, nothing is stronger than a good recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor.

Require them to take inventory and do a walkthrough. A strong, reputable moving company will take steps to evaluate the job ahead of time, including taking inventory of your belonging that need to be moved and doing a walkthrough to note stairways, doorways, etc.

Understand the contract you’re signing. A contract with your moving company should include the following: description and scope of services, pricing (fixed rate vs. hourly rate), date(s) of pickup, date(s) of delivery, liability and claims protection, and any additional charges.

Double check the company’s insurance and amount of protection. There are several levels of liability moving companies offer, but the most common are full value protection on items, requiring them to either repair, replace, or provide cash value for items that are lost or damaged in the move, and alternative liability coverage that requires them to be liable for up to 60 cents per pound of the item in question.

Unpack in a timely matter and report problems. Depending on your contract, you have a limited time to report any issues to the company and file a claim, so make sure to unpack and evaluate your belongings before that deadline passes.

Reach out to me for recommendations on movers or other home professionals. View my calendar below to schedule at a time that works for you. Or simply give me a call/text at 704-951-4017.

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WHICH FEATURES ARE YOUNG BUYERS LOOKING FOR IN A HOME?


Millennials are the second-largest segment of home buyers, ranking behind only baby boomers, according to the National Association of Realtors. Here are five features that tend to entice millennials who are looking to buy.


Updated Kitchen

An up-to-date kitchen and bath
Younger buyers often have limited funds for renovations, so it’s important that they have functional and inviting bathroom and kitchen spaces from the very start.

An open floor plan
Having a formal dining room isn’t of particular importance to millennials, in fact, many prefer open spaces with no separation between kitchen, living room, and dining room. An open concept makes it easier to entertain everyone at once.

An office
More and more jobs are offering work-from-home options, and there are also plenty of freelancers and telecommuters among millennials. A dedicated space for getting some work done can be a key attraction.

Friendly location
With gas prices rising, many millennials prefer walking, biking, or public transit for their commutes. A great location is key.

Energy savings
Millennials are often more conscious of energy conservation and efficiency. Energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, and quality insulation can make a huge difference.


Contact me here

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FIVE NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT CAN KILL A SALE


Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:


 1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.

 2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.

 3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.

 4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.

 5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

For more advice and tips, feel free to reach out at anytime! It’s my goal to go above and beyond for my clients! My advice is always free. Reach out to me here.


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NEED-TO-KNOWS FOR SMART-HOME TECHNOLOGY


Homeowners have the ability to automate anything from locks to lights to air conditioning and more. With new technology popping up every day, it’s hard to stay up to date on the smart-home trend.

If you are considering installing smart-home technology in your home or looking to buy a home that is equipped with some of those devices, you want to ensure you do your research so you can make educated decisions. Here are three important factors to consider!

  1. Security. Because a large percentage of smart-home devices rely on Wi-Fi, they are vulnerable to being hacked. Although this may not be much of a concern for devices controlling your lighting or sprinkler system, it may be for automated locks or garage openers.
  2. Cost vs. Value Add. The initial setup costs for some smart-home technology can be daunting for homeowners, so it’s important to thoroughly map out the upfront cost versus your savings and its value to you over time. Many of these can help you be more energy efficient, reduce monthly bills, and save you time and stress. Plus, if and when you are ready to sell, smart-home technology can help improve your home’s resale value.
  3. Compatibility. With so many companies throwing their hats into the smart-home ring, it is can be difficult to select the right devices for your home. If you are considering automating various features in your home, you may want to take a look at the big picture and try to choose devices that are compatible with one another or that can be controlled by a singular hub.

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THE INS AND OUTS OF HOME INSPECTION


Home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. After finding the perfect house, you will want to ensure that there are no hidden faults that may require lengthy and expensive repairs or renovations down the line.


To prepare you for this process, here are the top four things you need to know.

  1. The buyer is responsible for the inspection. Make sure you give yourself ample time to find a reputable, certified home inspector by asking for referrals from your real estate agent, friends, and family and do your research online. Plus, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the inspection into your budget.
  2. Home inspectors are usually generalists. They will evaluate most areas of your home, such as the foundation, basement, plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, walls, floors, ceilings, and attics. But, if your home is equipped with special features, like a pool or chimney, you may need to hire a specialist.
  3. Buyers can attend the inspection. In fact, a lot of inspectors suggest it! This is an opportunity for you to get any outstanding questions regarding the condition of the house you are purchasing answered.
  4. You have options if the inspection uncovers a problem. If the problems discovered are serious, like structural damage or safety issues, the seller is legally required to fix them. You also have the option to back out of the purchase without facing any consequences. If the problems are smaller, you can submit a formal request for repairs and negotiate for them to cover some or all of the cost.

TAKE 5: PREP YOUR BUDGET FOR BUYING A HOME


Choosing to enter the home buying process is likely the largest financial decision you will make in your lifetime, so it is not one that should be taken lightly. Ensuring that your other current and upcoming financial responsibilities are under control is crucial to having a smooth transaction and being able to enjoy your investment fully. These tips will help you prepare your budget for purchasing your dream home.


Calculate your monthly income. How much money is coming in every month? This is the amount that is left after taxes, health insurance, and retirement savings are taken out of your monthly salary.

Understand your current expenses. Make a list of all your current recurring expenses month to month. Don’t forget to factor in things like loan payments, gym memberships, car maintenance, groceries, self-care appointments, etc.

Determine where you can find savings. Are there any ongoing memberships or subscriptions you don’t use that can be canceled? Can you cut out your daily coffee or eating out lunch? Make these adjustments right away to start saving more.

Boost your financial standing. Before buying a home, it is recommended that you dedicate extra effort to paying off other debts and boosting your credit score. Taking these steps will help you during the loan approval process.

Don’t move finances around. Your lender will review your bank statements during the pre-approval process and then again during underwriting. Any large withdrawals or deposits may throw a red flag so try to avoid these when possible. If you can’t, make sure you have proper documentation to explain the movement of money.


If you’re looking for more advice, lenders, financial advisors, or anything real estate related. Give me a call, text, or email and I’ll get you in touch with one of my many trusted professionals. It’s my goal to go above and beyond for my clients. Contact me here.


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HOW AN AGENT CAN HELP ALLEVIATE STRESS


Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before. But that’s one of the reasons that working with a real estate professional is so worthwhile. With your agent’s guidance, buying a home should be enjoyable, rather than stressful. Here are some of the more unique circumstances where your agent can make your life much easier.


Out-of-town buyers: If you’re looking for vacation homes or moving to a job in a new city, there’s a good chance that viewing homes will be difficult—you could be a long drive or even a plane ride away. With today’s video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime, your agent can walk you through a property virtually. It’s not the same as walking through in person, but it will at least give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further.

When life is just too crazy: If you’re just getting too busy with everything else going on in your life, a good buyer’s agent should be able to recognize the situation and help you take a step back. They can suggest that you take a few weeks off from your home search to recharge, or only focus on properties that exactly fit your wants list.

Inspection issues: You’re dreaming about move-in day, and then some unforeseen issues turn up during inspection. A good agent can work out those issues by negotiating a lower offer—to cover costs of repairs—or by getting the seller to fix the problem.

4 Facts to Help You Choose the Best Offer


The nation’s real estate markets, for the most part, are still leaning toward sellers. Multiple offers on attractive, reasonably priced homes are common in many areas.

It only makes sense then that the higher the offering price, the better the offer, right? For many sellers, yes, but it isn’t always the case.

Sometimes the highest offer may have the worst terms, so it pays to scrutinize the entire contract before deciding on which to choose.

BUYER FINANCING

The buyer’s funding is also an important consideration. Most sellers give preference to a buyer who is offering to pay cash for their homes, at least in markets that favor them.

Barring that, a large down payment is attractive in that it lowers the amount the buyer must borrow for the purchase, making it more likely he or she will qualify for a loan.

FHA LOANS

FHA-backed loans have a more stringent appraisal process than a conventional loan, so if there are possible issues with their home, many homeowners put any offers using FHA financing at the bottom of the pile.

EARNEST MONEY

How much earnest money is each bidder depositing? The amount can vary, and the buyer with the highest earnest money deposit has the most “skin” in the game and is less likely to bail on the deal.

CONTINGENT OFFERS

Some offers are contingent upon the sale of the buyers’ current home. When determining the value of contingent offers, keep in mind more variables need to be met for the deal to come to fruition. Therefore, their value should be measured accordingly.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Buyer offers can be deceiving and having the right assistance to ensure you are excepting the best offer while avoiding possible pitfalls is crucial. The above list is just an overview of what I’ll look at in the purchase contracts you receive. I’m happy to share the rest with you – feel free to contact me.