Tracy Johnson's Blog
If you've owned your house for a long time and are putting it on the market, take time to consider how the buying and selling process has changed. Today’s buyers are both smart and cautious. They have access to more information than was possible a decade ago. Research shows that buyers begin shopping twelve to eighteen months before they're ready to buy. Your real estate professional has inside information on the local market, they can help you navigate the new selling terrain.
Take advice to heart in these essential areas:
Choose a reasonable price. Setting the wrong price gets your market plan off on the wrong track. When it’s too high, it will sit on the market for days or weeks derailing your plans to move. You want to get the most that you can from a home sale, but the market will bear only so much. Smart shoppers already know the comparable homes recently sold and come armed with a wealth of information before making their offer. Setting the price too low can backfire too. If a buyer is not interested in rehabilitation or renovation work, they may pass over a property that is not priced competitively.
Take great photos. Most serious buyers begin their search online. If your agent suggests hiring a professional real estate photographer, it’s often worth the investment. Internet shoppers quickly pass over blurry, out-of-focus, dark, or cluttered shots. Clean the windows and take pictures with the shades and curtains wide open. Bright and inviting photos encourage the buyer to visit in person.
Staging is more than décor. Take the time to remove personal objects, family photos, and collections. Organize your furnishings to make the best use of your space. Downplay dated areas that need updating and focus on the “bones” of the home and curb appeal if the entire house requires a makeover.
Test drive the online experience. Go online yourself to see how the photos look. Upload new ones until you're satisfied. Also, check out the street view on Google or Safari Maps. If they post outdated images where curb appeal is lacking, take a similar shot, and post it instead.
Make sure you know how the buyer sees your house when you put it on the market. Modern buyers are cautious. They come armed with information. Let your agent help you address issues relating to how your house appears online.
An ultra-efficient home is one that's designed and constructed not only to save you energy but provide its own. This means it uses no more renewable energy that it generates. To the novice homeowner, this may sound impossible. However, to the architects and engineers who specialize in designing this type of abode, it's all in a day's work.
How Can a House Be Its Own Energy Source?
Using a whole-house systems approach, architects use materials that are designed to harness and trap energy from the sun. Homeowners then use this energy to heat the water and air inside the home. It takes careful planning to design and build an ultra-efficient house, and the costs of construction usually reflect this. However, once built, this type of structure uses little in the way of traditional energy, and utility bills may even be nonexistent.
To provide its own energy, a home must feature south-facing windows and unobscured access to the sun. As the sun rises throughout the day, it shines into the windows and is collected by materials inside the home - usually a wall made of masonry or a tiled floor. Heat is stored in these materials according to their thermal mass. As the sun goes down and the day cools, heat stored in the thermal mass keeps temperatures inside the home comfortable.
There are controls in place to prevent the home from overheating. Usually they comprise window awnings, blinds or landscaping that limits the amount of sunlight that's allowed to enter during the hottest hours of the day.
What Types of Materials Are Used in Ultra-Efficient Homes?
Builders who construct ultra-efficient homes use materials that are functional for collecting and storing heat as opposed to ones that are simply attractive. These include:
Spray foam insulation
Radiant barrier sheathing
Most materials used in the construction of your ultra-efficient home will serve a purpose while looking beautiful and modern. They're filled with natural light and rich finishes that lend themselves well to heat absorption. The temperature and humidity inside the home is always comfortable, and if you have a utility bill, it won't fluctuate with the seasons.
What Does It Cost to Build an Ultra-Efficient Home?
It may cost as much as 7 percent more to build an ultra-efficient home as opposed to a more traditional design. However, you'll usually recoup that extra investment in under 10 years. By using energy-efficient materials, appliances and building techniques, the day-to-day costs of home operation are greatly reduced. As a result, the money you would usually spend on heating and cooling can begin going back into your savings account from the day you move in.
Can you afford to build an ultra-efficient home? The answer to this question may surprise you. There are several government grants and programs designed to encourage homeowners to build or upgrade to energy-efficient homes, according to Energy.gov. Some come as annual tax credits. Others are available as grants or as Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEMs). Make sure to look into these options if you're interested in an ultra-efficient home.
If your budget allows for it, hiring a good housekeeper is well worth the money. If you're like most professional couples, you probably already feel "maxed out" after you've put in 40 to 60 hours at your jobs . When you add parenting responsibilities into the mix, there's not too much time and energy left for cleaning the house! While certain basic house cleaning tasks are unavoidable on a daily basis, it's a relief to know that a paid house cleaner will be coming in to do a thorough job soon.
Finding a reliable housekeeper with whom you feel comfortable can be a bit of a challenge, but if you can get referrals from family, friends, and others you know, then your search should put you on the right track.
The Selection Process
Since the main reason you're hiring a cleaning person is to make your life easier, the last thing you want to deal with is dependability problems or substandard work. That's why it's important to get referrals from people you know and trust. It often pays to interview more than one prospective cleaning person because you want to find someone who is the best match for your budget and needs. When you have two or three prospects to choose from, you'll be in a better position to choose the one with the best attitude, top references, and the most agreeable personality.
Unless a cleaning person was referred to you by someone you know well, it's a good idea to request references and contact a couple of them before making any final decisions. Calling at least two of their current customers (or past bosses) should give you some helpful insights into their work habits, punctuality, and willingness to follow directions.
Although most customers will probably try to be complimentary, if you ask the right questions and look for "red flags" in their answers, you'll be surprised at what you can learn. While it may be too blunt to ask if their cleaning person is honest, a lot can be inferred from their responses to other questions. For example, if a housekeeper has been working for the same customer for several years and cleans their house while the costumer is at their office or other place of employment, then there's a good chance the cleaner does excellent (or at least satisfactory) work and can be trusted. One direct question that generally needs to be asked when talking with references is "Would you personally recommend this person?" Asking how their housekeeper responds to special requests, suggestions, or constructive criticism may also provide revealing answers.
When getting a quote from a cleaning person or house cleaning service, it's useful to get an itemized list of what chores or services would be covered in the price. There are two advantages to this. First of all, you'll be able to compare "apples to apples". Secondly, you'll be able to gauge your expectations to what was initially promised and agreed to. While there may be other issues to consider, like possible background checks and insurance coverages they carry, once you've found a house cleaner you like and trust, you've cleared the biggest hurdle in your search!
The real estate market can be tough to navigate, especially if you want to obtain the best price for your house. Fortunately, we're here to help you analyze the housing sector and make informed decisions as you sell your residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you review the real estate market before you list your home.
1. Assess Housing Market Data
Learn about the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own residence. That way, you can establish a price range for your house.
Furthermore, it often is beneficial to check out the prices of recently sold residences in your area. This real estate market data will enable you to see how quickly houses are available before they sell. As such, this information may help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market.
2. Conduct a House Inspection
A home inspection generally is reserved for buyers who request an inspection after a property seller accepts an offer to purchase. However, taking a proactive approach to a home inspection may go a long way toward helping you distinguish your residence from others in a competitive housing market.
During a home inspection, a property expert will examine your residence both inside and outside. This property expert then will offer an inspection report that details his or her findings. And once you have this report, you can prioritize home repairs.
Ultimately, a home inspection may help you take an objective view of your residence. After you conduct an inspection, you can complete home repairs that may help you boost your house's value as well.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you are struggling to understand how the housing market works, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can collaborate with a real estate agent and receive housing market insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and help you map out a home selling strategy. This plan will account for the age and condition of your home, your home selling goals and the current state of the real estate market. As a result, your home selling strategy will enable you to achieve the optimal results at each stage of the home selling journey.
Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent will provide as you navigate the home selling journey, either. A real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events to promote your residence to prospective buyers. Also, if you receive an offer to purchase your residence, a real estate agent will help you review this proposal and determine the best course of action.
Perform a deep analysis of the housing market before you list your residence – you'll be happy you did. By reviewing the real estate sector, you can find unique ways to ensure your house stands out to potential buyers and accelerate the home selling journey.
A dish just about everyone can agree on anytime is pizza, and this tasty recipe for veggie pesto pizza with a homemade cauliflower crust is a healthy alternative to delivery or frozen options. While it takes about an hour to prepare and cook, those extra few minutes of prep are well worth the results.
Ingredients for Cauliflower Crust
Get the oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper atop a baking sheet. Begin by breaking up cauliflower into small pieces and use a food processor until finely chopped. Give the cauliflower a gentle steam, drain well and allow to cool. Combine the cauliflower and the cheeses, spices and eggs into a bowl until well mixed.
Place ‘dough’ onto the parchment lined baking sheet and begin kneading and spreading it into a circle or shape of choice. You can determine the thickness of your crust from thin to a hand-tossed style. Add any ‘extras’ to the crust if desired by brushing it with olive oil and sprinkling add-ons to the edges. Place atop a pizza pan. Bake for 20 minutes, and begin prepping the toppings.
Rub the prepared cauliflower crust with a side of open garlic clove until the top is fully covered or to desired taste. Spread the pesto sauce atop the crust, adding extra if a saucier pizza is preferred. Top your masterpiece with the prepped spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, yellow pepper and sprinkle with the basil. Evenly spread the cheeses across the toppings and sprinkle the oregano to finish it off. Place in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted or until the crust reaches desired crispiness.
When cut into 6 pieces, this pizza is only 310 calories with an estimated 4 grams of saturated fat—so enjoy it guilt-free with your family and friends in your new home anytime the craving strikes.