Blogs

Inexpensive Curb Appeal

Have you considered your home’s curb appeal? When you are selling your home, curb appeal creates that first impression that the buyer carries throughout the time they spend touring your house. It can make or break whether a buyer even decides to tour your home or not. Sellers need to do all they can to make a home’s facade the best it can be.

Curb appeal clues the buyer in to what life might be like living in your house, so taking care of these things now are a priority. The big things are obvious: mow regularly, make sure exterior paint isn’t peeling…but once you’ve done all that, there are some small and inexpensive curb appeal improvements that make a huge difference.

  • Make sure the path from your buyer’s car to the entrance is free of kid’s toys, lawn care items, fallen twigs or other debris. Stepping over or around items detracts from the flow of the tour right at the beginning.
  • A fresh coat of paint makes a door look brand new. Once the impression of “new” or “well-kept” is formed in the buyer’s mind – that impression sticks with him or her throughout the rest of the house.
  • A manicured lawn gives the impression of a carefully tended home. Grass creeping over the sidewalks doesn’t necessarily look sloppy, but an inch or two of space between the lawn and the sidewalk makes the entire yard look neat and well-kept.
  • Thin out plants that are creeping into the zone of other plants. Landscape style is trending toward openness and even minimalism, so space between plants and shrubs gives that airy and clean appearance that buyers value.
  • Add color. Bright flowers can do wonders for the facade of a home, drawing the eye where you want it. Work a few blooms into the landscape if you can. Or, if you don’t want to go digging, use strategically-placed planters and hanging baskets to greet your buyers.
  • Bring in new mulch. Mulch fades with time, giving landscaping a drab gray base. Bright mulch creates contrast with the colors of flowers and shrubbery, giving them a healthier and more appealing appearance.

Consider taking the time to complete these tasks if you are planning to sell your home. You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in such a short time, and what an impact your home will have on potential buyers. Contact me today at 817-690-0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine the value of your home.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of Briget Murphy/Flickr.com

Share

How to Deal with Air Conditioner Problems

ac fan blades

It is a good time to start thinking about ways to make the summer season easier on your AC unit, and you bank account. It may be worth scheduling an appointment for a professional HVAC technician come to your home.

Ask your HVAC technician questions, and find out as much as you can about the unique nature of your system. For example, ask where the filters are located and what type of filter is right for your home. Keeping your HVAC system clean and functioning well is going to be important for anyone trying to sell their home, and should obviously be of concern when buying a home.

If you’re having a problem keeping cool, here are some things to check:

  • Make sure all outside equipment is clean and has a free flow of air around it. 
  • Check the thermostat settings. It most likely is set correctly, but it is a good idea to double check.
  • Examine the electrical panel to make sure there are no blown fuses or tripped breakers.
  • Pools of water near the equipment could be a sign of blockage in the drainage tubes. Algae are a common cause and can be removed with a bleach solution.
  • If you notice frost or ice on any of the equipment, shut the system down. You’re going to need a professional at this point.

Problems with air conditioning systems can be caused by malfunctions in several different places. Modern systems place a large, metal box outside your home. This is the condenser, and it’s where the refrigerant where the heat is lost to the outside and the refrigerant cools back to liquid form and is returned inside to the evaporator coil. There, as the refrigerant evaporates, it absorbs heat from the inside of the house.

Filters are one of the key points where you can save yourself a lot of headaches. Air drawn in by the air conditioner for cooling passes through air filters to remove dust and other particulates. A dirty filter causes the system to have to work harder, resulting in less cooling, higher electricity bills and potential damage to the equipment.  The lower air flow can cause your evaporator coils to ice-up and completely block air flow. Filters should be replaced once every two to three months. If you have pets, you’ll want to change them every six weeks.

The evaporator is usually inside your home, perhaps in an attic. You’ll have to change the air filter there, so while you’re there make sure the area around the equipment is clear and nothing is blocking or interfering with the system.

The condenser unit, typically on the side of your home, needs to be kept clean as well. You’ll need to cut back grass, weeds and shrubs that may impede the flow of air. And a dirty condenser needs to be cleaned by cleaning the fins and removing dirt or debris with a vacuum. This should ONLY be done with the system off and the 240-volt current switched off at the electrical panel.  You may wish to have a professional help you with this if you are not used to working with electricity.

Taking care of any issues now can help prevent them from turning into expensive fixes. With warm weather ahead, you will be glad you prepared and will have one less thing to worry about. Contact me today at 817.690.0976 for a consultation. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine the value of your home.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of Steve Johnson/Flickr.com

Share

Tools to Care for Your Yard

If you have recently purchased your first home, you may not have the tools necessary to take care of your yard. As a homeowner, unless you plan to hire a landscaper to maintain your yard, you will need to purchase some tools to help you care for your yard. Where do you start? You can spend thousands of dollars buying equipment but let’s start with the basics and then you can add additional items down the road as your budget allows.

Here is a list of things you will probably need to care for your yard.

  • A lawnmower

This one is rather self-explanatory. If you have a lawn, you need a lawnmower. Lawnmowers come in a variety of shapes and sizes so make sure you choose one that is appropriate for your yard. Too big will create more work in weed eating and too small will take longer so find the size that allows you to maintain your yard efficiently without adding extra time.

  • A Weed Trimmer

Weed trimmers or weed whackers are a great tool for getting to those hard to reach areas where weeds and tall grass love to grow and that your lawnmower won’t reach. In addition to lopping down tall grass and weeds, most weed trimmers can double as an edger allowing you to get that laser sharp edge on your yard.

  • Shovel and Rake

These two tools will be used more often than you think. The shovel is a great tool for moving earth and planting new bulbs and shrubs. The rake is essential for cleanup after a vigorous weeding session or when the leaves begin to fall.

  • Garden Hose

This is an item that many people tend to forget until they end up lugging bucket after bucket of water across the yard. Make sure to invest in a quality hose that will last. Remember, this hose will spend most of its life outside in the elements so select one that offers a good quality

  • Work Gloves

Last but certainly not least on our list is a good pair of work gloves. Blisters are no fun, and you are sure to get a few painful ones if you are not used to manual labor. There are a variety of gloves out there from soft jersey to rugged leather. Buy a few pair and try them out to see which you prefer. It will be the best small investment you ever make.

There are other items you may need as well but take a little time to get started with the basics and then you can add to your list of tools in future years. Taking care of your lawn can be a rewarding experience especially when the neighbors start to compliment you but it may not be for everyone. Remember, you can always hire a lawn service for the hard stuff. Contact me today at 817.690.0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you with the home buying process.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay 

Share

Preparing for a Spring Garage Sale

With spring just starting, spring cleaning is likely on your mind. Spring cleaning often involves more than just cleaning and includes decluttering as well as other small home improvement projects. It is common if you are doing a serious spring cleaning to include having a garage sale. A garage sale will allow you to purge excess household items while cleaning up your house at the same time. 

If you are planning a garage sale, here are some tips to help you get organized so you can maximize the time you invest to purge as many items as you can while making some extra money.

  • Go through each room in your home and select the items you want to get rid of. Discard anything that is broken, stained or has no value. You should sort through clothes, shoes, household goods, tools, outdoor items and toys.
  • Organize the items so they can be easily displayed at the garage sale.
  • Price the items so people know what you expect to get. At a garage sale, your prices shouldn’t be set in stone but having a suggested price to start with is a good way to begin negotiations.
  • Advertise your garage sale in the newspaper. Many local newspapers offer a garage sale section each week to promote garage sales.
  • Post your garage sale for free on a variety of websites including Craigslist, Facebook and others.
  • Have a way to display your items for sale. Clothes hanging on racks and small items on tables are much easier ways to look at things and will get more attention than a pile of things on the ground.
  • Place directional signs with balloons at the entrance to your neighborhood and at the necessary turns to your home. If people can’t find your home, your garage sale won’t be successful. For the first customers, it may still be dark outside so anything you can do to make it easier for people to find your home is helpful.
  • Make arrangements in advance for a local organization to pick up anything extra you don’t sell and take it away. Many non-profit organizations will accept your unsold items as a donation and sell the items to support their organization or give them to people in need. As an added benefit, you may be able to claim a tax deduction on any items you donate.

If you are trying to clean out your home so that you can list it for sale, contact me at 817-690-0976 and let’s talk about some things you can do to so your garage sale and spring cleaning help get your home ready for the market.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of tmag/pixabay.com

Share

5 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

If you are planning to make a major purchase anytime, whether it is a house, car or something else, it is important that your credit score be as high as possible. Though you can still qualify for many loans with less than perfect credit, you will likely have a higher interest rate, which can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. Here are some tips that can help you improve your credit score if you aren’t in the top tier currently.

  • Keep your credit card balances low in comparison to  your credit limit. Somewhere between 10 and 30 % of your credit limit is the optimal balance to strive for.
  • Don’t close old accounts. One of the components of your credit score is based on the age of your accounts. If you close out some of your oldest accounts, your score can take a hit if all of your accounts look relatively new.
  • Pay all of your bills on time. Late or missed payments have a major impact on your score. If you have an account you can’t make the minimum payment on, call and try to negotiate additional time to make the payment or a reduced payment amount that you can make. If you have a good payment history with your company, you may be able to do this to avoid having a payment show up as late.
  • Review credit reports from all the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) annually and identify and correct any issues that you find. Mistakes are made on credit reports and most aren’t discovered until you are opening a new account at which point you may not have time to wait for it to be corrected. Make it a habit to do this in January each year so you are not surprised by anything you haven’t seen before.
  • If you have one negative showing from an account holder that you have a good payment history with, ask for a reprieve and see if they will remove that from your credit report. If you have a history of paying on time, some companies are willing to do this.

All of these tips will help you keep your credit score in the very good to excellent range making it possible for you to borrow money at competitive rates when you need to. If you are looking to purchase a home, contact me at 817-690-0976 today and let’s discuss how I can help make you real estate dreams a reality.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Johnson Johnson on Unsplash

Share

Decrease Your Utility Costs this Winter

Utility meters

As we enter the coldest part of the winter, utility bills will start to increase as your heat is running more to keep your comfortable in your home. There are many things you can do to save on your utility bills without sacrificing too much comfort. Here are some great tips to keep you warm and your utility bills low. Here are some tips to keep your costs down.  

  • Open your shades and curtains during the warmer parts of the day to allow sunlight inside to warm up your home.
  • Use ceiling fans to help circulate the warm air throughout your home and push it into the lower parts of your rooms from since heat naturally rises. Fans should turn clockwise in the winter on the lowest setting.
  • Modern electronics draw energy even when turned off. Keep devices, small appliances and chargers unplugged when they are not being used.
  • Energy efficient light bulbs will use less energy and last longer.
  • Set your heat about five degrees cooler than normal and wear a sweater or use a blanket when you are at home. Drop the thermostat by another five degrees when you are away from home. A programmable thermostat will make this easy or you can adjust manually.
  • Line dry your laundry if possible, and use the cold water cycle when washing. When using the dryer, make sure it is full and the lint trap has been cleaned with each use so it will work more efficiently.
  • Take shorter showers if possible. It costs a lot of money to heat the water you use during the winter.
  • Washing dishes by hand uses more water than a dishwasher. Use the dishwasher whenever you can but only with full loads, and allow the dishes to air dry for further savings.
  • Microwaves typically use a third of the energy that the stove will use to cook the same food. This can really add up over a month.
  • When you use the oven, open the door when you are finished cooking with the oven and allow the heat to escape into your home. Be careful when doing this if you have small children.
  • Keep the refrigerator full. More cold items means your fridge doesn’t need to work as hard after the door is opened and it begins to warm up.
  • Switch out your cool cotton sheets for flannel or a knit variety to keep you warmer at night.
  • Add a blanket under your comforter or bedspread for greater warmth.
  • Keep your filters clean and change them regularly per the manufacturer’s recommendations for greatest efficiency.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and baths only as needed during the winter. They eliminate the warmest air from your home.

A little effort on your part can make a big difference in your electric bill so take the time to make these adjustments and you should see a difference when your bills arrive. Get in touch with me at 817-690-0976 and I will be happy to help you get started.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Doris Morgan on Unsplash

Share

Fall In Love with Your New Kitchen

New Kitchen

If you are planning a remodel in 2022, the kitchen is one of the most popular rooms to remodel. With kitchen remodels ranging greatly in price, you will want to take time to decide exactly what you want before you begin the process. If you are on a tight budget and can’t do a full kitchen remodel, you may want to consider waiting instead of spending money on changes that won’t satisfy you long term. A less expensive fix that needs to be changed right away will cost you more than doing it right the first time.

If your budget is large enough to accommodate the project you want to complete, the next step is to decide what you want to change in your kitchen. Here are some items that are readily available and sure to please you and any future owners of your home.

  • Granite, solid surface and butcher block countertops all have loyal followings.
  • Sleek appliances. Stainless is still popular but black stainless is showing up frequently as are some custom color options.
  • As people declutter more, open shelving has become more popular for your most frequently used items.
  • Statement sinks pop up more today while farmhouse and stainless options still maintain a strong presence as well.
  • Add a statement color in a small amount. A colorful island, painted ceiling, or bright table can make a large impact in an otherwise neutral space.
  • Select a range hood that makes a statement for a fun and functional update.
  • Technology is in the kitchen too with Bluetooth syncing to refrigerators and ovens becoming more common.
  • Integrated appliances hidden behind paneling and built-ins make your kitchen a true designer space.
  • Cabinets have seen an upgrade with new shapes and sizes like deep drawers for storing pots and pans near the cooktop.           

It can be tempting to pack everything you love into your kitchen but don’t overdo it. While several of these trends can be easily incorporated in your kitchen remodel, don’t attempt them all. Pinterest and houzz both provide great resources to search for ideas so you can determine what you like and what you don’t. Call me for a local referral to help with your home renovation goals, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Share

Your Home, Your New Year’s Resolution

New year 2022

Every new year, many of us commit to better health and wellness, but what if this year we reserve not just be better ourselves but also better our homes. By contacting me to discuss your real estate goals, perhaps you can make real estate-based resolutions and maybe even stick to them this year.

Now that we have entered the winter months, I advise you to get that to-do list out of the drawer, dust it off, and start crossing off some of the items listed. And because it has been in hiding since spring, you should walk back through your home with your list, noting any small things that could turn into big problems. Be sure to check everything, from cracks in the ceiling to regular maintenance items should be attended to. Scan all of the walls, floors, ceilings, appliances, doors, and windows. Not only is aspiring to accomplish all of the items on your to-do list an excellent New Year’s resolution, but it will also remove the monkey that has been hanging on your back since spring.

Another resolution for 2022 that I would recommend that you look into is any home renovation you have been longing to execute. If you have coveted an updated kitchen, bathroom, or something else, make it your goal to accomplish the task in the upcoming year. 

Regardless of the remodel, focus on energy efficiency. 2022 will be the year of supporting the “Go Green” concept. You can achieve this by merely replacing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent or LED’s. Or go big by replacing any home appliances with energy-efficient versions. 

Even though a full remodel will not be suitable for everyone, you can perform something more financially manageable, such as tiling your kitchen backsplash or applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Any of these renovations will ultimately add value to your home and are resolutions that can easily be accomplished.  

Lastly, I suggest that you resolve to make extra mortgage payments. Maybe you cannot afford to double the payment, but perhaps you could add a small amount of money each month for the next year. 

Paying extra money towards your mortgage now saves you big money later. Your real estate agent will be able to provide you with the information of how much savings your resolution investment could pay off in the long run.

So, this year, instead of purchasing an expensive diet plan, you are sure to bail on by March, commit to improving, maintaining, and paying more towards your real estate investment. Call me today and we can discuss your home New Year’s resolution for 2022. I would be happy to help you determine where to focus your attention and money.  

People so often fail to uphold their New Year’s resolutions. By involving your home in making your resolution decision, you are sure to be more likely to succeed in the expectations you set for yourself. You will also be making your home a safer, more appealing, and energy-efficient environment. Contact Pam Snowden today at 817-690-0976 and let’s get started on your 2022 real estate goals.

The good news is that while PMI will add to the cost of your mortgage each month, it does not have to be forever. You can usually eliminate the cost of private mortgage insurance once you have attained 20 percent equity in your home. That is certainly an incentive to work toward paying a little extra on the principal of your loan each month. Additionally, if you happen to live in an area where property values are on the rise, you have a better chance of reaching the desired 20 percent equity level within a shorter period of time. If you believe you have attained 20 percent equity in your home, it can be worth it to contact your lender. Be aware that the lender may request a new appraisal, however. This is a fee you may be responsible for paying. Get in touch with me at 817-690-0976 and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about purchasing your new home.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Share

What Is PMI And Will I Have to Pay It?

PMI Neighborhood

There are several costs that are associated with buying and owning a new home. One you might be less familiar may be the idea of PMI. What exactly is PMI and when might you need to worry about it?

Private mortgage insurance or PMI, refers to the special type of insurance that is required when your down payment is less than 20 percent of the total value of your home. If you default on your loan, PMI will pay off the outstanding balance of your mortgage, thus protecting your lender. 

How much can you expect to pay for PMI each month? The actual amount usually varies based on the amount of your down payment as well as the amount of coverage required by your lender. Typically, PMI equates to half of one percent of your loan’s value. Therefore, if you take out a $200,000 home loan, you could reasonably expect your PMI to cost $1,000 per year. Divided over the course of twelve months, that would add approximately $83 per month to your mortgage payments.

That is certainly a significant increase, particularly for first-time homebuyers who may be concerned about making a mortgage payment each month. There are advantages to PMI, however. For instance, you may find that you are able to purchase a home with less of a down payment than might otherwise be possible. Paying PMI may also increase your chances of loan approval when the lender knows their investment is not at risk.

The good news is that while PMI will add to the cost of your mortgage each month, it does not have to be forever. You can usually eliminate the cost of private mortgage insurance once you have attained 20 percent equity in your home. That is certainly an incentive to work toward paying a little extra on the principal of your loan each month. Additionally, if you happen to live in an area where property values are on the rise, you have a better chance of reaching the desired 20 percent equity level within a shorter period of time. If you believe you have attained 20 percent equity in your home, it can be worth it to contact your lender. Be aware that the lender may request a new appraisal, however. This is a fee you may be responsible for paying. Get in touch with me at 817-690-0976 and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about purchasing your new home.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Avi Waxman on Unsplash

Share

Holiday and Year-Round Security

Wreath on door

Home security should always be a priority, and almost always should be installed and maintained by professionals. If you’re going to upgrade your security, it can be helpful to know a bit about what goes into that security. Today’s focus is on doors, but we’ll talk about windows and sliding glass doors in the future. Settled into a new house, relaxing after the process of buying and moving, the last thing you want to do is worry about your safety.

Doorknob locks are the most basic type, and on doors leading from the outside comes the inherent problem that they are easy to defeat. They aren’t really enough to provide reliable security. They should always be paired with a deadbolt. An attachable chain lock on the inside might make you feel safe, but is easily overcome by physical force. 

A study by the city of Chula Vista discovered “that 87% of the break-ins … targeted the one door that had no deadbolt lock.” The deadbolt lock is a physical safety lock, securing the door in the frame with a metal bolt that slides into a receptacle in the door frame. The bolt itself should be steel and at least an inch long. The strike plate, where the deadbolt locks into place, should be securely set into the door frame with screws that are strong, durable and at least three inches long. Shorter screws are easily torn out of the wood. You might consider two deadbolts in the same door, one above the door handle and one below it.

Another option is to replace your entire door and door frame with a steel security door and a steel frame.

There are also a variety of high tech lock systems on the market. Keypads are the most common of these, and are widely and successfully used in commercial settings. Biometric deadbolt locks read your fingerprint before they release the bolt, but these locks are not perfect, and some of them failed in tests conducted by Consumer Reports.

A good alarm system is the best back up for any door. The major reason for this is that very few criminals want to get caught, and the alarm is going to scare most of them away quickly.  But, alarm systems can come with problematic contracts with alarm monitoring companies, which are beyond the scope of this post. 

If you’re in the market, security is something that we can prioritize as we look at possible homes. If you want to do more research, try Consumer Reports which offers a buying guide and a set of reviews. Contact me today for a referral at 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash

Share