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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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Money-Saving Winter Investments

Insulation money saving winter investments

Having the proper amount of insulation in a home is imperative in saving energy costs.  It is estimated that 65% of American homes are under-insulated, thus raising the estimated energy bills nearly 40%. Insulation is not frequently on a person’s primary list of interests when purchasing, or even maintaining their current home.  However, it should be.  Not only does insulation play a huge role in sustaining a comfortable home in which to live, but more importantly it is paramount in saving you a vast amount of money. 

As energy costs are continuously on the rise, it only makes sense to equip your home with the correct amount of insulation. Insulation conserves energy, thus saving you money. Homes built as recently as the late 1970’s have insulation levels far lower than the recommended levels of today.   And should you be looking to purchase a home this winter, be sure it too, is properly insulated.     

Most insulation will pay for itself over a very short period of time.  The best return on your money is to insulate where there currently is none. So, are you baffled on where to begin?  Calling me is a great place to start. Whether you are looking to purchase this winter, or simply need advice on maintaining your current home, I know the value and importance of home insulation. I will be able to offer you guidance on who to contact and for what reasons.  Insulation companies endorsed by your realtor will perform energy audits and assessments on your current home, or the home in which you are looking to purchase.  The audit will assure that the home is properly sealed.  And if not, it will report on ways to improve its energy efficiency.  The assessment from the insulating professional will determine the current R-value of the insulation, measuring its ability to resist heat traveling through it.  Depending on the results, suggestions will be made on where, and how much insulation should be added.

Regardless of anything else you do this winter, make it a priority to examine the insulation levels in your current home, or potential purchase.  Adding insulation is an easy step to take as a homeowner, to save up to 20% on your next energy bill. There is a wide variety of insulation options.  Working with your realtor and the insulation professional, you can decide on which variety is most suitable for the home’s particular needs.  Some of the newer “Green” versions of insulation even come with federal tax incentives. 

The dread of receiving this year’s winter electric bills could be alleviated, 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 Erik Mclean on Unsplash

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Fall Maintenance for Homeowners

Fall maintenance full gutters

As summer winds down and fall approaches, you will hopefully get some relief from the hot weather of recent weeks. As the temperatures cool, this makes a great time to take care of home maintenance tasks outside and prepare your home for the winter months. What should you do around your home in the fall to make sure you are ready for the next season? Here are five things you definitely should not skip during your fall maintenance.

1. Lawn maintenance is common in the fall. If you choose to aerate in the fall, then you may want to fertilize your lawn after that. The summer is harsh on your grass. Giving it some attention after the weather starts to cool can help it recover before its dormant winter season. If you do fertilize your lawn, you will need to water it as well if the weather doesn’t cooperate with you. Without watering, your fertilizer will be wasted.

2. Fall is a great time to seal and stain your deck. Depending on your deck, this may need to be done annually or every two to three years. You need to avoid the wettest season and while summer may have plenty of time that isn’t wet, it may be too hot for you to do this kind of activity depending on the size of your deck. While you may have some fall rain, you should likely have plenty of dry days too so you can complete this activity without getting into the cold months. While your area may be drier in the winter, if there is rain, it is likely to stick around longer since the temperatures are cooler. Most likely the fall will still have plenty of warm, sunny days to make deck maintenance ideal.

3. Empty the gutters and downspouts and make any necessary repairs. When the leaves start to come off the trees in the fall, it is best to have your gutters empty so they aren’t overloaded. Overflowing gutters can pull away from the house causing damage and allowing water to flow into your home.  This damage is often hard to spot until it has progressed to a big and expensive problem.

4. Winterize any outdoor water sources. This includes outdoor spigots, irrigation systems, sinks, fountains and anything else. If temperatures dip below freezing with water in the lines, it could cause your pipes to burst creating an expensive and messy repair.

5. Have your fireplace cleaned for the new season if you didn’t have it done at the end of fireplace season. If this is not something you have been doing regularly, talk to the person that comes out about the recommended schedule for this maintenance task depending on your fireplace usage habits. Fireplaces provide great heat during the winter but can be dangerous if they aren’t properly maintained.

Routine maintenance is critical to caring for your home and protecting your most important asset. Anytime you need a recommendation for a home professional to assist you with something big or small around your home, give me a call 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image by 123switch from Pixabay 

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Design Inspiration for Your New Home

Dining Room design Inspiration

When you are moving into a new home, you may want an entirely new look to go along with that. Even if you are happy with most of your current furnishings and don’t need to change everything, a move may mean more space or different space that you need to furnish. If interior design isn’t one of your hobbies, where do you find ideas that will help you turn your house into a home. Start with these five sites to find lots of great design inspiration for your new home.

HGTV.com
HGTV is full of great ideas for everything house related. Ideas of all kinds can be found in whatever style you are looking for. From the front porch to the backyard and everything in between, HGTV is full of stunning ideas. Browse ideas by room or style until you find just the look for you.

Havenly.com
Havenly.com is the perfect option if you are never quite sure how to pull a room together. For a small fee, they will ask about your style and make recommendations that meet your budget and style. This is a great option if you don’t want to buy a prepackaged room of furniture and just can’t decide what goes together.

Houzz
This website brings together home professionals of all kinds to share ideas and experiences that you can search and browse until you find the right one for you. Whether you are looking for a fresh look for one room or the whole house, Houzz can make it easy to find.

Modsy.com
Modsy is another option to work with a designer for a small fee. They will provide design ideas within your budget then offer you discounted prices to purchase the items through them so you don’t have to track everything down yourself. They offer unlimited changes to their design recommendations and will keep working with you to get it right.

House Beautiful
The companion website to the magazine shares design ideas from a variety of sources. From whole designs to focus pieces to make a perfect statement, this site is full of ideas that you will love.

These sites are just a starting point to help you find the perfect design inspiration for your home. If the DIY approach to style isn’t for you, you can always call a local interior designer to help you style your home. Call me for a local referral for a stagger, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

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