3 Sure Fire Ways to Lose When Buying Your Next Home!

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Thinking about making a move?  GREAT! What an exciting time for you.

Before you begin your home-buying journey, be sure to avoid these 3 sure fire ways homebuyers lose – big time – when buying a new home.

You may ask:  “Lose? How can I lose?”

Great question

Too many buyers rush into the home-buying process before they’re ready.  And doing so not only wastes their time but, in some instances, it costs them thousands of dollars.

Keep reading to learn what these top 3 mistakes are . . . so you make sure to avoid them!

Not getting prequalified BEFORE beginning your search

Many buyers make this mistake, thinking they know what they can afford.

What you may not consider, however, are other costs associated with home ownership – or a host of other issues that may affect your credit.

I’ve worked with some buyers who were pleasantly surprised that they could actually qualify for MORE than they imagined.  But I’ve also had buyer clients who learned of issues on their credit report that had to be handled and resolved before they would be able to move forward in the homebuyer process.

An informed buyer is the BEST buyer.  The 5-10 minutes it takes to talk to a lender to get prequalified is, without a doubt, well worth doing.

Not thinking through your “wish list” & prioritizing what’s most important

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Believe it or not, regardless of your budget, there will ALWAYS be compromises.

That’s right!  Even with a $1 million budget, it is unlikely that you’ll find EVERYTHING you’d like in your next home.

That’s why it’s always best to take time to really think through your dream home “wish list” and, then, prioritize your list from most important to least important.  In fact, some buyers create 2 lists – one for “must haves” and another for “like to haves.”

This is particularly useful information for your real estate agent, who knows the local market well and can better guide your search to find the home that will be perfect for you.

Not hiring a professional real estate agent 

Did you know that the seller pays for YOUR agent?  It’s true!

And yet some buyers believe they can do better to ‘go it alone’.

A professional real estate agent is well versed in negotiation strategy specifically tailored for real estate transactions.

You see, there are certain points of negotiation that are unique to real estate.  If you aren’t represented by an agent experienced in these types of transactions, you will miss out on opportunities (i.e., negotiable issues) simply because you don’t know they exist.

Similarly, some buyers have an agent, yet they attend Open Houses or new home construction sites alone (instead of advising their agent to register them and, thereby, protect their interests).  I’ve seen buyers leave literally thousands of dollars on the table when they negotiated a transaction alone. I don’t want that for you.

When you can have expert representation – without it costing a penny – and, in fact, potentially SAVING you not only time but mega money as well – why wouldn’t you hire an agent?

 

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FUN Fall Family Ideas

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After a busy, enjoyable summer, isn’t it nice to be back in routine with kids back to school, the sun setting earlier (making kids bedtime easier), etc? It sure is. And that doesn’t mean the fun times have to end– no way! Here’s a list of family fun things you can plan this month.

1) Decorate

– Wreath for the front door
– Inside your home for fall
– The porch with pumpkins and other fall decor

Check out the tutorial for this adorable DIY paper leaf wreath by Polkadot Chair

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2) Bake

– Pumpkin pie
– Pumpkin bread
– Homemade apple cider

Try this delightfully simple spin on pumpkin pie cheesecake by Smitten Kitchen

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3) Enjoy the Outdoors

-Make raking the leaves a family event.
-Go to the local pumpkin patch & hop on a hayride.
-Grab the ingredients for s’mores, then go outside after dinner to roast & enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate.

Check out these local events for lots of fall family fun!

S’mores & Ice Skating at Tenaya Lodge!

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Pumpkin Patch fun at Billy Bob’s Pumpkin Grove!

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ZooBoo at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo!

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And so much more!

What fun fall things does YOUR family do?

Do tell, I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

5 Tips to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

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1. SHOP AROUND

Homeowners insurance premiums can vary widely. Be sure to seek out quotes from a number of different companies. Consider not only price but also service, from both the agent and the company itself. Ask for reviews (these days if an agent doesn’t have a bunch of testimonials, that should be a red flag). You can often get a better rate when you combine your auto and home coverages. Finally, ask about any other discounts (e.g., home security).

2. RAISE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

Raising your deductible – from $250 to $500 – could save you more than 10% on your policy. Increasing the deductible to $1,000 could save you over 20%. Be sure to ask your agent for the amount you could save on your homeowners policy.

3. STAY WITH AN INSURER

Many insurers offer a discount for staying with them for several years. For example some insurers will reduce their premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for 3 to 5 years; by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for 6 years or more.

4. LOOK INTO GROUP COVERAGE

What groups do you belong to? These may include: alumni, business associations, professional associations, etc. Members often receive a discount when working with these groups’ preferred vendors.

5. BECOME EDUCATED

Insurance can be quite confusing. Some agents will try to sell you the most expensive policy without explaining what precisely should be insured. It’s worth the time and effort to ask an agent to thoroughly explain the different coverages available. Also ask her/him what exactly needs to be insured. Depending on your home’s location (e.g., in or near a flood zone or by the coast) or the age of the home and its major systems (e.g., electrical, heating and plumbing systems) as well as its overall structure, your premiums may be quite different than a similar home in another part of town or much older (or newer). Choosing wisely could cut your premium by 5 to 15 percent.

8 Things “Amazing” Real Estate Agents Do for Their Clients

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All real estate agents are not created equal!

Some, whether in the business for years or just months, consistently go “above and beyond” for their clients. Here are 8 things that an “amazing” real estate agent does for her clients:

(when interviewing agents, take note as to whether they talk about these important value-add services)

1. Explain the home buying and home selling process

(so you fully understand what to expect every step of the way)

An amazing real estate agent takes the time to explain the home buyer or home selling process, so you fully understand what to expect. If you’re a homebuyer, for example, she will explain that once your offer is accepted, you’ll have an opportunity to have the home inspected by an inspector of their choice. If a defect or anything concerning is found, negotiations will take place to repair or replace whatever is problematic. If you’re a home seller, your agent will explain, for example, what to expect during the negotiation process once an offer is submitted to purchase your home. She will ideally have a handout for you that clearly lays out every step along the way to closing.

2. Find great homes for buyers before they hit the market

(which could make the difference between finding “the one” or missing out)

Dedicated real estate agents are connected. Connected with other dedicated real estate agents. Connected and “in the know” in the communities they serve. As such, an amazing agent often learns of properties that are coming on the market before they hit the MLS. That means you’ll find out about hot properties before everyone else (which could make the difference between getting your dream home or missing out, yet again)

3. Provide an accurate home valuation for sellers

(& keep you up-to-date on the market)

An amazing real estate agent can provide a current home valuation for any home at any time (not just when you’re about to list your home for sale). This valuation is typically a range of anticipated fair market value, based upon a thorough review of comparable recently sold homes. It’s a good idea to request a home valuation every couple of years, if not annually. (Don’t trust online valuations, such as Zillow, because their valuations are based upon algorithms which may be spot on for some and as far off as several tens of thousands of dollars for others.) Nothing beats an in-depth valuation report from a local real estate professional who can explain nuances in value (including why a home may have sold for more than similar homes elsewhere). The homeowners who stay up to date on the value of their home often become the most profitable home sellers.

4. Recommend styling or staging your home

(to ensure sellers get top dollar)

An amazing agent knows that properties that are clean, light and de-cluttered sell faster & for more money. She has a design sensibility that allows her to recommend floor plan layouts for each room of her clients’ homes, making it easier for homebuyers picture themselves living there.

5. Help buyers prioritize items on their “dream home” wish list

(to find the “perfect” new place)

Believe it or not, buying a home always requires some compromise, even when your budget exceeds $1 million. An amazing real estate agent knows her local market, and the different types of homes & amenities available, and can help you prioritize your wish list. Knowing which of your wish list items are “must haves” versus “”like to haves” is helpful to find your perfect new place!

6. Hook you up with awesome contractors

(whether moving in or preparing your home for sale)

Amazing real estate agents have a team of go-to contractors to refer to their clients – whether painters, handymen, electricians, plumbers or general contractors. When you’re selling a home, that can mean the difference between getting your home ready for sale within days/weeks or months. Hitting the market when it’s “hot” can make a big difference in your bottom line.

7. Negotiate the best price and other important terms

While the agreement of sale varies state by state, they all are multi-page documents with many important terms. Some of these include: price, financing, closing date, inclusions and exclusions and several deadlines leading up to settlement. An amazing real estate agent knows all contracts related to a home purchase or sale and can guide you through each term. She is an excellent negotiator and staunch advocate for her clients and their best interests.

8. Market your home, both online and offline

(to ensure a quick & smooth sale)

An amazing real estate agent is marketing savvy AND knows technology. Indeed, given that over 85% of homebuyers begin their home search online, great agents know how to maximize exposure for their sellers’ homes on the Internet (including the websites where your listing will appear). She’ll be sure to have professional photos taken and create compelling marketing pieces to get your home seen offline as well.

4 Home Improvements With the Best ROI

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Whether your plan is to remain in your home for years or sell in a year or two, here are 5 home improvements that, according to a recent report issued by ‘Remodeling’ magazine, deliver the best return on investment.

Replacing your garage door

This one may have come as a surprise. But when you think about, having a newer, updated garage door can freshen up the look of the entire home. Be sure to choose a door that complements your style of home. (For example, if your home is a classic colonial, a contemporary door would ‘fight’ with the home’s style and look out of place.)

A new front door

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: ‘enough with the doors already.’ But the statistics show that these issues are important to homebuyers. And let’s face it: a pretty entry door says “Welcome Home”!

Add a patio or deck

Everybody loves more space, even outdoors! If your home doesn’t have a patio or deck, adding a deck is a great investment. While any size would be appreciated, a popular deck size is 16’ x 20’.

Spruce up your kitchen

We’re not talking about a major remodel but, rather, a minor improvement (such as adding a solid surface countertop or a cabinet refacing). For most, the kitchen is the hub of the home, so dollars spent to make that room more functional and appealing are one of the best investments you can make in your home.

 

September Homeowner Checklist: 5 To Dos

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It’s that time again… time to prep your home for the cooler weather that’s on its way.  Get these completed so that you can take a much- needed break by taking a nap on the couch or curling up with a good book. ☺
  1. Change décor & bedding.  It will soon be chilly and that means the lighter sheets currently on your bed, need to be changed out with layers of warm comfort like maybe wool or fake fur.  Also, with the change in season, comes Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas so now is the time to swap out summer pillows and décor for the cozy cooler weather décor and accessories, such as a cozy throw and thicker window curtain panels, etc.
  2. Check smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detectors.  & replace batteries.  Also, now is the best time to check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher too.  Lastly, did you know that if your smoke detectors are yellow, it means they need to be replaced?  It’s true, so do this life-saving maintenance this month for sure!
  3. Schedule furnace & chimney maintenance.  As the seasons change, it’s important to have an HVAC pro come out and maintain your furnace.  And since colder weather brings about fireplaces being used, it’s also the perfect time to have your chimney inspected and cleaned.
  4. Weatherstripping check. Now is the time to check all existing weatherstripping and replace if needed.  And add any new to windows and doors that let too much air escape. Your budget will thank you.  Your family will be warmer! ☺
  5. Inspect your roof & gutters.  Roof leaks are the worst, especially during cold & inclement weather seasons, so now is the time to have a pro come out, clean out your gutters and inspect your roof (from on top of the roof) and make any necessary repairs now.
If you need any referrals to good contractors, send me a text or email or give me a call & I’ll share with you my go-to list of the best in town!
I look forward to hearing from you! ☺ Happy September!

Day 73: Houston, we have a winner!

Today’s tour is a house located near Cedar & Nees. It’s an adorable Mansionette in a lovely and quiet neighborhood where pride of ownership is very much alive and thriving! This home has only had ONE owner since it was built in 1987. At just under 2,600 sq ft, this single story home feels amazingly spacious. It is situated on an expansive 10k sq ft lot, which is very impressive given its location in the middle of the city. The love and care that this house has known over the last three decades is abundantly clear. Although it has not been updated from the original design, the bones and layout of this home are just perfect. With a little TLC and DIY (or a good contractor) it can easily rival the aesthetics found in newer homes with all of the quality and charm of older construction.houston-collage1

“Very Nice Mansionette in great neighborhood! This is a 1 owner home has been well maintained and cared for over the years. Incredible storage, extra cabinets built in by owner throughout the house. Very Spacious home with over 2500 sq ft of living space – 4 BR, 3 BA , with living room, dining room, and family room, all very large. Fresh paint throughout the home, large covered patio, well landscaped yard with automatic sprinklers. Extra storage shed and oversized garage. All this and CLOVIS SCHOOLS! This is a very desirable area!”

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Main Features

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • 2,594 sq ft
  • 10,010 sq ft lot
  • Clovis schools
  • Wathen Mansionette
  • $374,900

This could be your next home! If you want a private tour and more information, call, text, or email me anytime!

Thanks friends!

Erica

Day 71: Pinspiration

Have you ever wondered what it would take to get your home ready to sell? Do you play the comparison game with homes in magazines and think yours could never look that good? Think again!

Achieving amazing curb appear isn’t that hard or expensive! There are so many simple DIY projects that can be done in a day and cost next to nothing. I’ve created a handy chart to show just a few.

These little things have a big impact on the marketability of your home. If you need more inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards on home design!

I saw a nice home in Woodward Lakes for this post. Always on the hunt for new delivery methods, I toured it live on Facebook. Here is the playback of my live video tour!

Cheers!

Erica

Day 41, 42, 43,…70! (part 2)

So, here’s a thing…I have three houses in escrow right now. Whaaaaat?!

Yeah, baby! It’s going to be a crazy few weeks getting everything to close, but I’m totally up to the challenge and man will it be worth it! If all goes well, I will be able to breathe and enjoy the holidays before the insanity of the new year hits.

I’m learning so much. I’ve flubbed a few things, but nothing major or irreversible. I’m gaining critical experience with each and every conversation and soaking up as much knowledge as possible from all the amazing people around me. And most importantly, I’m building relationships and nurturing prospects with so many amazing people! This is a wild ride, my friends. A wild ride, indeed.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Catch up time!!! Here are a few more houses that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks.

 

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Day 56: Bremer Ave
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Day 57: Ellery Way
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Day 58: Patterson Ave

 

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Day 59: Grant Ave
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Day 60: W. Herndon #129
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Day 61: Vartikian Ave

 

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Day 62: Nees #164
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Day 63: Nees #162
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Day 64: Villa #9

 

 

 

 

Day 41, 42, 43,…70! (part 1)

Holy moly did I get behind on posting content! I have seen dozens of houses over the last few weeks, but a really crazy thing happened. I got busy doing real work! I guess this is a good thing because I’m staying insanely productive. I have one in escrow, another one in counter offer negotiations, and expect to submit another offer early this week. That’s good stuff!

The downside to being nose to the grindstone IN the business is that it’s difficult to remain focused working ON the business. Getting back to basics means I will renew my commitment to posting daily.  There won’t necessarily be witty content to accompany each house, but I think we will all survive 😉 To get back on track, I’m going to summarize the last 30 (!) houses I’ve seen here.  It’ll be fast and furious, so try to keep up!

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Day 41: Chennault Ave
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Day 42: Meadowood
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Day 43: Camarillo Dr
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Day 44: 10th St
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Day 45: Bonadelle Sequoia Model at The Grove Loma Vista
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Day 46: Wilson Residence 4 Model at Elev8tions Loma Vista
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Day 47: Wilson Residence 1 Model at Elev8tions Loma Vista
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Day 48: Pennsylvania Ave
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Day 49: Encoure Way
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Day 50: Serena

 

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Day 51: Richmond Ave

 

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Day 52: Everglade Ave

 

 

 

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Day 53: Prescott Ave

 

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Day 54: Backer Ave #152
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Day 55: Backer Ave #165