comey, Author at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

All posts by comey

Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About Real Estate Agents

Do you need one? Do they pocket the whole commission? Let’s set the facts straight.

Buyers and sellers often enter the market with misconceptions about real estate agents — how we work, how the process works and what the agency relationship is all about.

It’s helpful to point out, without getting too far into the weeds, that in any one real estate transaction, there are most likely two agents: one for the buyer and one for the seller.

Here are five myths (and five truths) about working with both buyer’s and seller’s agents.

1. Agents get a 6 percent commission, no matter what

Most people assume that their agent is pocketing the entire commission. That would be nice, but it’s just not accurate.

Truth

First, it’s helpful to know that the seller pays the commission, and they split it four ways: between the two brokerages and the two agents.

Finally, the brokerage commission isn’t fixed or set in stone, and sellers can sometimes negotiate it.

2. Once you start with an agent, you’re stuck with them

If you’re a seller, you sign a contract with the real estate agent and their brokerage. That contract includes a term — typically six months to a year. Once you sign the agreement, you could, in fact, be “stuck” with their agent through the term. But that’s not always the case.

Truth

If things aren’t working out, it’s possible to ask the agent or the brokerage manager to release you from the agreement early.

Buyers are rarely under a contract. In fact, buyer’s agents work for free until their clients find a home. It can be as quick as a month, or it can take up to a year or more. And sometimes a buyer never purchases a house, and the agent doesn’t get paid.

Before jumping into an agent’s car and asking them to play tour guide, consider a sit-down consultation or a call, and read their online reviews to see if they’re the right fit.

Otherwise, start slow, and if you don’t feel comfortable, let them know early on — it’s more difficult to break up with your agent if too much time passes.

3. It’s OK for buyers to use the home’s selling agent

Today’s buyers get most things on demand, from food to a ride to the airport. When it comes to real estate, buyers now assume they need only their smartphone to purchase a home, since most property listings live online.

Truth

First-time buyers or buyers new to an area don’t know what they don’t know, and they need an advocate.

The listing agent represents the seller’s interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate the best price and terms for the seller. So, working directly with the selling agent presents a conflict of interest — in favor of the seller.

An excellent buyer’s agent lives and breathes their local market. They’ve likely been inside and know the history of dozens of homes nearby. They’re connected to the community, and they know the best inspectors, lenders, architects and attorneys.

They’ve facilitated many transactions, which means they know all the red flagsand can tell you when to run away from (or toward) a home.

4. One agent is just as good as the next

Many people think of “agent” as a generic term and that all agents are created equal.

Truth

A great local agent can make an incredible difference, so never settle. The right agent can save you time and money, keep you out of trouble and protect you.

Consider an agent who has lived and worked in the same town for ten years. They know the streets like the back of their hand. They have deep relationships with the other local agents. They have the inside track on upcoming deals and past transactions that can’t be explained by looking at data online.

Compare that agent to one who’s visiting an area for the first time and needs their GPS to get around. Some agents aren’t forthright and might be more interested in making a sale. Many others care more about building a long-term relationship with you, because their business is based off referrals.

5. You can’t buy a for sale by owner (FSBO) home if you have an agent

In a previous generation, sellers who wouldn’t deal with any agents tried to sell their home directly to a buyer to save the commission.

Truth

Smart sellers understand that real estate is complicated and that most buyers have separate representation. And many FSBO sellers will offer payment to a buyer’s agent as an incentive to bring their buyer clients to the home.

If you see an FSBO, don’t be afraid to ask your agent to step in. Most of the time the seller will compensate them, and you can benefit from their knowledge and experience.

 

Source: Zillow.com

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership: Down Payment, Credit, and Affordability,” which revealed that,

“Consumers often think they need to put more money down to purchase a home than is actually required. In a 2017 survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership. Thirty-nine percent of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment and many renters are unaware of low–down payment programs.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

“Most potential homebuyers are largely unaware that there are low-down payment and no-down payment assistance programs available at the local, state, and federal levels to help eligible borrowers secure an affordable down payment.”  

These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners. For example, “30% of homeowners and 39% of renters believe that you need more than 20 percent for a down payment.”

While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream homes, they do not realize that there are programs available which allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | MyKCM

As you can see in the chart above, 51.7% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

Source: The KCM Blog

Pre-Approval: Your 1st Step in Buying a Home

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so.

 

Source: The KCM Blog

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale By Owner

In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 88% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 21% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $208,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $235,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $27,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a Comey & Shepherd agent and see what they have to offer.

Small Kitchen? Try These 9 Tips for Making the Most of Your Limited Space

Transform your standard-issue rental kitchen with these tips.

Is there some kind of law that requires rental apartments to supply no more than a single square of kitchen counter space to each unit?

Between the white walls, scarce and often outdated cabinets, and a lack of amenities, it’s rare to find a solid kitchen in the world of yearlong leases.

But no good makeover starts with a beautiful subject, right?

All you need to transform that bleak little kitchen into a well-designed, functional space is a bit of imagination, some basic home maintenance skills, and a few solid pieces.

Here’s where to begin.

Donate first

Before moving into your new space, make sure to get rid of all those things you don’t need anymore.

Have you actually used that discounted bundt pan in the past year or two? If not, donate to your favorite local charity shop. Someone else might get use out of it, and you’ll be saving yourself from more clutter in your new home.

Think vertically

Vertical storage is a tried-and-true method of using space, and the kitchen holds some unique opportunities for making the most of it.

Hanging pot racks, magnetic knife strips, mounted dish-drying racks installed above the sink, and rods with hooks for towels, aprons, small tools and oven mitts are all excellent ways to keep clutter in its place — and keep the surfaces and lower area of the room free.

Find beautiful cleaning tools

The ugly truth is that a lot of everyday items just make sense to keep out — but that doesn’t mean they have to be such an eyesore.

Skip the plastic and get yourself a classic wooden broom, natural fiber dish brush and a glass soap dispenser. These items don’t cost much, but they add a softer look while also getting the job done.

Tap into change

Just because your place didn’t come equipped with a dishwasher doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Installing a quality faucet with a pull-down sprayer can make your chores less of a chore (and, as long as you swap it back before you move out, it shouldn’t violate your rental agreement).

Have space and the budget for something more? Portable dishwashers are a massive timesaver. From small countertop models to wheeled butcher-block-top options, there are sizes that fit into almost any space and require nothing more than your standard sink to function.

Live the island life

A kitchen island is a versatile tool for almost any space — even the tiniest micro apartments!

Whether you choose a larger center-of-the-room-style piece or a small butcher-block number, these additions create more counter space and storage, all in one piece.

Bonus: If your island has wheels, it can serve as a portable bar for your next party. (Hey, if we can call bingeing our favorite shows with a few of our closest friends a “party,” so can you.)

Light it up

Another timeless tip: Good lighting is everything.

If your kitchen is dedicated to getting things done and starting your day, invest in cool lighting — the kind that washes everything in a bright, sunlit glow. A refreshing, cooler light wakes us up and creates an invigorating feeling.

If you’re more of a romantic and enjoy taking your time in the kitchen, keep relaxing, warm lighting around so that you can let the day melt away as you sip your merlot.

For those who prefer a bit of both, app-enabled bulbs can customize the mood for any occasion, and some even use every color of the rainbow.

Think (temporarily) BIG

If there’s one common complaint about renting, it’s the stark white walls. Removable wallpaper adds a touch of personalization and won’t break the bank — or at least, it doesn’t have to.

To keep costs low, stick to one accent wall. Finding a large-scale print will make the space feel larger, and layering a sizable mirror on top will maximize the look and any light.

Curate unique displays

One of the best ways to keep an assortment of oddly shaped kitchen items is to dedicate either one section of the room (think: the top 12 inches of the walls) or one wall to showing them off.

Whether it’s your grandmother’s antique creamer collection or the jumble of cookie cutters that won’t fit into your drawers, making them into a vignette adds a layer of personalization to your space while also providing covert storage in plain sight. Easy-to-install hooks or some simple shelves are great ways to achieve this solution.

Keep it alive

Every room deserves a plant. Not only do they look good, but they also improve the quality of the air around them. If you don’t have the floor or counter space to spare, a hanging plant will do the trick.

No natural light in your kitchen? Or perhaps you’re better at killing plants than keeping them green? No matter — there are plenty of realistic artificial plants these days, which means everyone can benefit from the organic shapes of ferns, succulents and the ever-popular fiddle-leaf figs.

Have pets? Make sure to check the toxicity of your plants before choosing their placement.

No matter how uniquely challenging your space might be, there are solutions waiting for you to find them.

 

Source: Zillow.com

8 Ways To Increase Your Home’s Value On A Budget

A few strategic, affordable upgrades can add big value to your home.

Increasing the value of your home when selling can be a difficult task, but a few home improvement ideas can help you stage for success while keeping within your budget.

1. Install a programmable thermostat.

Heating your home accounts for more than 40% of its total energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Programmable thermostats allow you to customize a temperature profile throughout the day. Reducing the temperature inside your home by a degree or two while you sleep can lead to huge savings on a monthly basis. And with energy costs on the rise, many buyers will appreciate your forward thinking in assisting them with long-term savings.

2. Update your fixtures
Updating tired, worn fixtures will breathe new life into any space. Give your bathroom and kitchen a critical look — could the drawer pulls and cabinet handles use an update? If new kitchen cabinets are outside your budget, new hardware is a simple way to update the room’s entire look and feel. What about the faucets? A sleek new kitchen faucet with a sprayer combines practicality with design and will be appreciated by buyers. Anticipating and tackling these smaller projects will have a big selling impact. And — bonus! — you can enjoy them in the meantime.

3. Replace the toilet.
Replacing an old, cracked, or outdated toilet can make a significant impact on your bathroom aesthetics. Purchase a stylish new one for a few hundred dollars or take the environmentally friendly route and opt for an almost-new secondhand toilet (just be sure to buy a new seat). Repurposed construction material outlets offer a variety of well-priced goods.

4. Re-glaze the bathtub.
You can see buyers hold their breath as they slowly pull back the shower curtain, hoping for a sparkly new tub. Exceed their expectations for just a few hundred dollars by re-glazing your existing bathtub. The bathtub will be ready to use just a few days after applying the glaze. Roll up your sleeves for a DIY weekend or call in the professionals; either way, you’ll come in under budget.

5. Install a tile floor.
A shiny new tile floor can breathe life into the darkest bathrooms. Tiles are easy to clean, resist microbes and allergens, and wear well in high-traffic areas, making them a perfect material for the bathroom. Flooring liquidators typically sell a variety of quality tile, so start there. If your bathroom is small, you can probably even splurge on some designer options! Then save the rest of your budget for a professional installation.

6. Add new blinds or plantation shutters.
Is your home still sporting aluminum blinds or old-school vertical blinds? Consider replacing them: New window coverings can really modernize a room. If your windows are a standard width, you can buy basic wood blinds at a home improvement store (and most allow you to customize the length). If your window size is irregular, you’ll have to special-order them. To add a truly upscale look to a room, try plantation shutters — they can be a major selling point with the next people to own your home.

7. Replace the front door.
The front entry is the focal point of your home’s curb appeal. Give your home a face-lift and replace — or repaint — the front door. With security and safety in mind, choose a door that will appeal to a buyer’s practical side (and don’t forget to consider new hardware too). Another way to add interest and style to your home is by adding color to to your front door.

8. Add a walkway.
A new path leading to the front door can really elevate the look of your home. While brick pavers add a traditional and classic look to the exterior of your home, you can also choose stone, concrete, or even rocks — just make sure the look of the pathway matches your home’s style. Regardless of the material, a walkway is a welcoming feature, beckoning guests (and buyers!) inside to have a look around.

5 Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Whether you’re a social butterfly or a homebody, getting friendly with the folks next door will make your new house feel like home.

Leaving friends and neighbors behind can be the toughest part of moving to a new home.

These five tips will help you make connections and settle into your new community in no time.

1. Knock, knock

For an extrovert, walking over to a neighbor’s home to say hello may feel like a no-brainer. But for more reserved personalities, this tried-and-true method usually requires a bit of a warmup.

Start with a friendly wave as you drive by, then work your way up to a face-to-face introduction. Remember, timing is everything. You don’t want to disturb your neighbors in the middle of dinner or while they’re struggling to get a fussy toddler down for the night.

Try to catch them when they’re already outside, or aim for a weekend afternoon when everyone is much more likely to be relaxed and open to a brief, friendly chat.

2. Snail mail

Can’t work up the nerve to knock on doors? In this age of electronic communication, a nice handwritten note can be a welcome surprise.

Write a few lines for your closest neighbors, introducing yourself and inviting them over for a cup of coffee or cocktail at their convenience.

Be sure to personalize each note by including a small conversation starter (e.g., the roses in front of your home are absolutely stunning! We’re poodle lovers too!), then drop your letters at your neighbors’ front door or in their mailbox.

3. Magic school bus

If you’ve got school-age children, accompany them to the bus stop for the first few days of class.

You’re likely to run into at least one other parent who can fill you in on both neighborhood and school happenings — and people love to talk about their kids, so you won’t have to worry about awkward silences and finding common ground.

Exchange contact info and invite the family over for some weekend fun.

4. Man’s best friend

Our pets often are the friendliest members of the family, so let your four-legged companion break the ice for you.

Dog parks are a natural spot for meeting new friends, both canine and human. You can also meet fellow pet lovers while walking your dog through your neighborhood — cleaning up any messes, of course.

You can get recommendations for trails, vets and parks, as well as ask about any pet-themed meetups in the area.

5. Turn the page

Don’t let the name fool you: Book clubs are as much about socializing as they are about reading.

Check out your library or local bookstore for groups near you, or you can find one online. If possible, contact the host ahead of time to ask whether you should bring any refreshments (wine!), and come armed with a few key insights about the book and recommendations for the next session.

Who knows? You could pick the next talk of the town.

Bonus: life of the party

Once you’ve made a few connections, team up to host a neighborhood block party. Volunteer to handle snacks and other logistics, and ask your more established neighbors to spread the word.

Pick a seasonal theme — hot dogs and lemonade for summer, cookies and warm cider for fall — and spend an afternoon meeting new friends and getting the inside scoop on the best places to eat and play near your new home.

Before you call it a day, pass the torch to another neighbor and make the block party a new tradition.

 

 

Source: Zillow

6 Home-Shopping Red Flags Even an Inspector Could Miss

The home inspection should catch any deal breakers, right? Not so fast.

Bill Loden, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), has been inspecting homes for the past 20 years. But he says some home headaches simply don’t reveal themselves during a standard inspection — and some are outside an inspector’s scope.

“There are things homeowners think we can do, but we can’t,” he explained. “And honestly, most people don’t want to pay for [a specialist].”

To get the most value from your home inspection, it’s important to know a few things even professionals might miss.

1. Partially blocked or damaged sewer lines

Some house problems don’t show up overnight, and a partially blocked or damaged sewer line often falls in this camp.

“We’ll run water through the fixtures, but we’re there for a limited time,” Loden explained. “Two to four hours might not be long enough for the problem to reveal itself.”

Inspectors will likely determine the type of drain pipe used and estimate its age. They may also look for trees or stumps near the sewer pipe that could cause damage. However, sewer-pipe scoping (sending a camera down the line) isn’t typically included in a standard inspection.

2. Failing HVAC equipment

Similar to damaged sewer lines, HVAC equipment can be fine one day and stop working the next.

“If I check an air conditioner when temperatures are moderate, it can seem fine,” Loden explained. “But under stress, when temperatures shoot up, it can fail.”

Loden says inspectors can bring an HVAC contractor with them for the inspection, but typically it’s not worth the investment when you compare the cost of buying a new unit.

“It will cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 [to hire a contractor] and could take two to three days to complete,” he said.

3. Cracked heat exchanger

An area where you may want to pay for an HVAC contractor: an old furnace.

“In my area in Alabama, we have a lot of package units [furnace/air conditioner combined] that sit outside. It’s not part of the standard inspection to examine the heat exchanger, but a lot of them develop cracks that can allow the indoor air to mix with combustion air that has carbon monoxide,” he explained. “You don’t want that in the house.”

Loden recommends having an HVAC contractor examine the heat exchanger if a furnace is more than 10 years old.

“If the HVAC contractor does find such a crack, by law they have to replace it before the furnace can be used again,” he said.

4. Electrical problems

Loden says the best way to think about a standard home inspection is a “visual inspection,” because when it comes to electrical issues, inspectors can’t always determine the problem’s source.

“If I find a receptacle that doesn’t have ground, I know it’s disconnected somewhere, but I don’t know where,” he said. “You’re going to have to have an electrician find the disconnect in the system.”

5. Structural issues

Is the roof sagging, or is it part of your new home’s architectural style? Luckily, a home inspector should be able to tell.

“All roofs — at least wood roofs — have some inconsistencies. A home inspector knows what’s normal and what’s not,” Loden said.

However, when it comes to identifying how bad a problem is or how much it’s going to cost to repair, an inspector isn’t the right person to ask.

“Because we’re not licensed structural engineers, we’ll refer homeowners to one,” Loden said.

6. Leaks

Leaks may not be there one day and show up the next. For this reason, inspectors might not initially detect them.

“A lot of times we go into vacated homes,” Loden explained. “With the plumbing system not being used on a daily basis, any leaks may have dried up. And it may take a couple days after the water is turned on for the leaks to make themselves visible.”

Loden recalls his own home inspection when it was pouring rain. “The roof was not leaking when I moved in, but six weeks later it was,” he said. “A home inspection is not a guarantee that the house won’t have problems in the future.”

He says that the best thing you can do is carefully check the drains in cabinets before and during your move.

“A lot of times homeowners place belongings under there. Sometimes they’ll pack them up after the inspection and bump the drain traps, causing them to start leaking. The same thing can happen when you move in.”

At the end of the day, the key is to take precautions and make sure you find a certified inspector who has been inspecting in your area for a long time.

“They learn where failures are likely to occur,” Loden said.

 

Source: Zillow

5 Steps to Ease the Stress of the Sale of Your Home

Since you’re convinced that the fall is a good time sell, here are some often overlooked steps to take to ease the stress of the sale of your home. Staging is one of them. Here are another five that will help you sail through the sale.

  1. Make a list of improvements you’ve made and any issues you’ve experienced while living in your home

Highlight and disclose improvements you’ve made in addition to any issues you may have experienced while living in your home, especially if you’ve owned your home for a while. For example, chimney fires, water damage, a flooded basement, or the addition of a French drain system, too.

  1. Be aware of how your listing appears online

Get online and Google your address. Why? Because almost all buyers search online for homes these days. And you need to be aware of how your listing looks on the Internet. For example, not all of your recent home improvements show up on Google Maps’ street view. You need to flag each one of those updates that aren’t showing up.

And what does the site give as an estimated value for your home? It may be very different from the asking price you’ve put on your home. Sometimes tax records have the wrong information about the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in your home. Not to worry. Just be aware and get it fixed. It’s easy to do.

  1. Take a look at your home from the curb

What do you see? Cosmetic repairs, even minor ones, can cost you the sale if they’re not taken care of. First impressions are that important and can make all the difference when it comes to a sale. When your home is well-kept, it gives a good first impression. It shows you take great pride in your home. The buyer sees the care you have taken and translates that into less energy and cost for themselves as they prepare to move in.

  1. Clean every nook and cranny

Potential buyers look everywhere! They look inside drawers, cabinets, closets, even the dishwasher and washing machine. Potential buyers judge how clean everything is as part of that first impression mentioned in step three. Spending the time and money needed to deep-clean your home will come back to you ten-fold.

  1. Let your agent know which items aren’t to be included in the sale

From custom window treatments to appliances, if they’re not included in the sale, tell your agent. Unless specifically excluded in the contract, the law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer. If you want to take your flat-screen TV, chandelier, or custom pot rack, play it safe. Pack it, replace it, or label it as soon as you list your home on the market. Don’t let buyers bank on owning the items and be disappointed when they move in.

As I like to say, look at your house through the eyes of a buyer. Would you want to buy your house? What needs to be repaired or updated? Fix clean, update, and get the clutter you see outta there before you list your home. Selling a home is stressful, but you can ease the stress with these five simple steps.

 

Source: Brooklyn Real Estate Blog

10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Keep your home from being a target with these easy tips.

The season of long weekends and beach getaways is upon us, and the last thing any homeowner wants to imagine when they’re soaking in the sun or taking a dip at the lake is a burglar snooping around their empty home. While there is no use in being paranoid about your belongings while you’re away, home security shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it’s the right season to be wary: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that household burglary rates are highest in the summer.

So whether you’re getting away for the day or weekend or taking an extended vacation, put these 10 summer holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target for robbers this season — or any season.

1. Beef up security systems
Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to protect your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure.

2. Make your home look lived in
One big clue to burglars that you’ve gone away during the summer? An unkempt lawn. Be sure to mow it before you leave — or hire someone to keep it trimmed while you’re gone — so your home looks well cared for. The same precaution can be transferred to winter months — if you’re expecting a big snow, have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway.

3. Don’t keep your windows open
String lights can be a great way to illuminate a deck or outdoor space during summer months, but don’t run electrical extension cords through your windows. If your windows don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade.

4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations
A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside.

5. Use the latest tech
Take advantage of a devices like FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. Other home automation devices, like Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone, can also help ward off thieves.

6. Keep your valuables out of sight
That shiny new laptop, your favorite jewelry, or basically anything valuable you’ve forgotten to stash out of sight could tempt burglars. Before you head out of town, do a quick walk-through in each room and hide all valuables.

7. Make a record of valuables
It’s a good idea to take pictures of your stuff — particularly big-ticket items such as laptops and TVs — and keep serial numbers in a safe place. Should the worst happen, you’ll have a record of what was taken and be able to confirm your things are truly yours if they are recovered by police.

8. Do your packing out of sight
Sure, you have to make room for the bikes, load up the boogie boards, and stash away some snacks, but be smart about where you pack up the car. If possible, keep your car in the garage or out of sight, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC.

9. Be smart about boxes
If you’ve bought new gear to bring along on your summer vacation, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Instead, break down the cardboard and put it in your container for recycling or trash pickup.

10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans
It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans online with your 500 closest friends. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk.