Blogs

Top Home Buyer Questions

The following are the most common questions I receive from first-time home buyers. If you or anyone you know is planning to buy a home, contact me today. I will be happy to discuss any of this information in more detail…

  1. I’m a first-time buyer, what is the best advice you can give me? Work with a trusted real estate agent. You need someone who has experience working with first-time buyers, and who keeps up with the latest information that could impact your home buying experience.
  2. What do I need to do first? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is first thing to take care of in the home buying process.
  3. What about my credit score? In order to buy a home, you need a minimum score of 580. 620 and over is preferred by many lenders.
  4. How much money is required for a down payment? This depends on your credit score and type of loan you choose. Your down payment could range from 3% to 20% down or more. Most lenders require at least 3%.
  5. Are there any additional costs involved in buying a home? Yes, you will be responsible for closing costs and loan origination fees.
  6. How long is the home buying process? Consult with your lender for thorough details, though typically it takes between 30-45 days.
  7. Can you provide me with details on special loan programs? Absolutely! Contact me today and I will be happy to go over this information with you, and put you in touch with a lender.
  8. What does a real estate agent do? Any number of things including researching homes on a daily basis to find your dream home, to coordinating with the seller’s agent, lender and more.
  9. How much does a buyer have to pay a real estate agent? Nothing. That’s why it makes so much sense to work with an agent. Buying a home is free as it pertains to commissions.  
  10. So when do I get the keys to the house? You will receive the keys at closing, and you can start enjoying your new dream home right away.

Contact me today at 817.690.0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the home buying process, and/or help you find your dream home!

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of Mark Moz/Flickr.com

Share

What You Should Know about a Home Warranty

sold sign

More sellers are now including home warranties with the sale of their homes to entice buyers. The idea is that having a home warranty provides peace of mind for the buyer that if something breaks – usually within the first year of ownership, they won’t have to pay for it. However, homeowners can purchase a home warranty at any time. Before you decide to buy one or include it with your sale, you should understand what it is and when you need it.

What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty covers the components of a home, such as heating and cooling systems, appliances and water heaters. It usually doesn’t include minor repairs such as plumbing leaks. It can be purchased for any age home, though the cost will increase with older properties just because of the likelihood that you’ll use it more.

With some warranties, you pay only a set amount regardless of the cost of the repair or replacement. With other programs, you pay a portion or percentage of the cost. It’s important to read the fine print before you select a warranty. Know what is included and what can be added for an extra price.

The Benefits

For the buyer, a home warranty provides peace of mind. You know you won’t rack up hundreds of dollars in repairs or use up your emergency fund for major issues. Keep in mind that the cost of just one repair can be as much as the entire annual cost.

For the seller, a home warranty may bring in more buyers, especially if the person is selling an older home. First-time buyers don’t always have a lot of money to put into the property, and a warranty would reassure them they won’t have a lot of major expenses.

The Downside

You may pay into a warranty for years and never need to use it for repairs. This is money that is lost with no rewards. You’ll most often see this case with newer homes. You also don’t need a special home warranty on a recent build if it is still covered under the builder’s warranty. For example, most appliances come with a two- or five-year manufacturer’s warranty, so you wouldn’t need a separate home warranty.

In the end, the decision comes down to you and how prepared you feel you are to pay for unexpected expenses. It also depends on how old the home is you’re buying or if you will get more offers if you’re selling. Call me today, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the home buying process, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy American Advisors Group/flickr.com

Share

4 Signs You Need a New Roof

One of the biggest expenses a homeowner has to deal with is roof repairs. If you own your home long enough, you will need to replace it with a new roof. Here are four signs it may be time to talk to a roofing expert about a brand new roof.

Age

While damage may be caused by storms, older roofs often need to be replaced rather than repaired. Depending on the type of roof you have, you may need to have it replaced after 20 or 25 years. Even though timely repairs can extend the life of your roof, in time the only option will be a new one.

Curling, Buckling or Missing Shingles

Take the time to inspect your roof. If you notice the shingles are curling or buckling or you see a significant number of missing shingles, it’s likely that your roof is at the end of its life. They get brittle as they dry out in the sun. Pay special attention to the valleys in the roof. Missing shingles in this area will lead to leaks, causing further damage to your home.

Shingle Granules

Notice the coloring of the shingles. If you see patches that are darker than other areas, it’s a sign the granules have worn away. This indicates the shingles have worn out and need replaced.

Soft Decking

Walk around on the roof. If you notice a bouncy feeling, it is an indication that the underlying decking material has gotten soft from moisture. Go into the attic and look for daylight in the roof or wetness in the insulation. This is a sign that there are leaks in your roof.

How to Tell If It is Time to Replace the Roof

Many times, these issues can be repaired rather than taking on the expense of replacement. However, if your roof is near the end of its life, you’ll only be putting a temporary bandage on the problem and delaying the inevitable.

Different types of roofs have various life expectancies. For example, a cedar shake roof will last around 20 years if cared for. Asphalt shingles can last for up to 25 years or even longer. Tile roofs seldom need replaced, but the individual tiles can break. Concrete should last for as long as you own the house.

Take care of your roof to prevent other issues that cost money, such as damage to the structure of your home. A regular roof inspection can tell you when you need to make repairs or replace it. Call me for a local referral, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy Herry Lawford/flickr.com

Share

DIY Painting Tips

Interior painting is probably the most common update that homeowners make themselves. Even if you have never painted before, with the right supplies and some effort, you can update the paint in your home without being overwhelmed. Here are some basic tips if you want to tackle this project on your own without having to pay a professional to repaint when you are through.

  • Buy the right supplies and don’t skimp on them. You can’t expect a professional looking paint job if your supplies are of poor quality. If you aren’t sure what you need, ask when you purchase your paint.
  • Take the time to tape off the area you will be painting. There will be drips and possibly even spills. Don’t let that become a huge mess. Tape off the walls, ceilings or trim that isn’t being painted and put drop cloths on the floor.
  • Remove outlet and switch plate covers before painting. After you remove them, tape over the outlets and light switches so you don’t get paint on them.
  •  Don’t just jump into the painting. Do the necessary research to figure out what kind of prep work your walls will need to make the paint go on smoothly. At a minimum, walls will need a thorough cleaning but they may also require other steps if the walls are damaged or you are covering a dark color or rough texture.
  • At a minimum, you will probably have some nail holes that need to be filled in. This can be easily accomplished with a small amount of spackle or caulk. You will then need to let the area dry and sand it smooth. After sanding, you will need to clean the area again to remove any dust.
  • If you are painting an area that requires more than one can of paint, it is a good idea to mix the cans together into a larger bucket in case there are slight variations in the color of each can.
  • Different types of bristles on paint brushes are used to best apply certain types of paint. For water-based paint, use nylon bristles, natural bristles for oil-based paint and nylon and polyester for latex paint.
  • When selecting rollers, match the length of the nap to the type of surface you are painting. Smooth surfaces use a shorter nap while textured surfaces like popcorn ceilings will require a longer nap.
  • If you need to do more than one coat, let the first coat dry before you add a second one.
  • When you are finished, save your extra paint for touchups. A baby food jar is a great option if you only have a small amount remaining.
  • Clean your tools right away when you are finished so that you can save them for another time. If you let the paint dry on them, it will be much more difficult to get the paint off.

Now that you have educated yourself on the process, it’s time to get started if you can decide what color paint you want to use. Start small and take your time. 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 courtesy of capri23auto/pixabay.com

Share

To Pool or Not to Pool?

Many people enjoy nothing more than a trip to the pool on a hot summer day. Swimming, lounging, playing water volleyball or getting in a full body workout are all great ways to use a pool. The idea of being able to walk out your back door and dive in the pool can be very enticing but there are pros and cons to becoming a pool owner so how do you decide what is best for you?

First, let’s start with the fun parts of installing a pool in the backyard. No more treks to the neighborhood or community pool with chairs, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, towels and floats. Don’t worry about forgetting anything either because if you do, just step inside and grab what you need. For convenience, the backyard pool gets major points.

If you are looking for an easy way to work out without having to leave the house, few exercise programs offer a full body workout like swimming without an entire room of equipment. You can get a great workout with just goggles and a bathing suit and not have to worry about what time the gym closes each day. This is definitely another win. 

Pools can also be a great place to hang out. If your kids are always bored or you like to have friends over on the weekends, the pool will offer instant pleasure for kids and adults alike.

So far, it all sounds like fun but there are some negatives as well. The pool will require some extra work for maintenance and this doesn’t come without an expense. Even if you take care of pool maintenance yourself, it won’t be cheap. First, you will have to pay for water to fill it and keep it full, chemicals to maintain the balance of the water, equipment to keep it clean and possibly a cover or other accessories.

Add in chairs for the pool deck, towels for you and your guests and things can add up quickly. If your yard wasn’t already fenced, your insurance company may require this and your insurance premiums will likely increase as well because of the added liability of the pool. If you decide to install a pool heater to increase the amount of time you can use your pool, this will be an added expense as well.

While a pool party is lots of fun, it can also be dangerous if people aren’t acting responsibly and there isn’t enough supervision. Children should never swim unsupervised even if they are strong swimmers.

Pools can create a challenge when it comes time to sell your home down the road. Many people aren’t comfortable with having a pool in their backyard so they will not consider your home. There will be some people just like you that find the idea of their own pool exciting that will be interested in your home but you are extremely unlikely to get much of a return on your investment.

Don’t make this decision quickly or lightly. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons and make sure a pool will add enough benefits to your lifestyle that you don’t mind the added risks. 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

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

Share

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