7 Home Buying Acronyms You NEED to Know

If buying a home is in your future, there are some terms you are going to need to know. We are breaking down 7 of the most common home buying acronyms on the blog today!

  1. HOA = Homeowners Association. Many neighborhoods are governed by a Homeowners Association. If you choose a home in a HOA-regulated neighborhood, you’ll pay association fees and will be subject to the HOA’s rules. On the plus side, you’ll also benefit from some nice services like trash removal, amenities, lawn care or maintenance!
  2. FRM = Fixed Rate Mortgage. A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that does NOT change during the entire term of your loan.
  3. ARM = Adjustable Rate Mortgage. An adjustable rate mortgage generally has lower monthly payments at the beginning, but will adjust over time depending on the interest rates.
  4. P&I = Private Mortgage Insurance. This is the extra fee you pay when your down payment is less than 20%.
  5. LTV = Loan to Value. This is the ratio that is calculated by dividing the loan amount by the home’s purchase price. This is important because if you put down less than 20%, you could be able to tap into a special program from your lender.
  6. PITI = Principal, interest, taxes and insurance. Also called your “monthly housing expense”, this includes your mortgage payment and a monthly portion of your homeowners insurance and real estate taxes.
  7. CD = Closing Disclosure. A document that provides important information about your loan, like the interest rate, monthly payments and closing costs. You’ll want to make sure that the information in this document matches the Loan Estimate you received when you applied for the loan.

Real estate terms can seem complicated! We are here to help. Contact us today to help you navigate the home buying process.

10 Tips for Moving with Kids

Making a big move with children can seem like a daunting task. There are new friends to make, possibly a change of schools, and new bedrooms to get used to! We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite tips to make moving with your kids as easy as possible.

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  1. Pack up your child’s toys while they are asleep (but leave one box of toys until the very end!).
  2. Keep your child’s belongings separate and organized by using a different colored duct tape for each child. You’ll know exactly who belongs to which box with a quick glance!
  3. Let your child help decorate their new room. Give them three “parent-approved” paint color choices to choose from to let them feel like they have a say without picking something crazy.
  4. Find a fun playground or restaurant in your new neighborhood to visit even before you move (if possible!). This creates a sense of excitement and shows your children how fun your new part of town will be!
  5. Pack a “moving day bag”. Let your children keep a special toy or fun activities out and in an easily accessible bag that will give them things to keep them occupied while the adults are working.
  6. Keep a positive attitude. Children will feed off of your energy. If you can stay positive and excited about the move, they will be too! Think of this as a fun, new adventure for your family.
  7. Create a “moving day plan” and talk about it a lot before the big day arrives. This will help relieve some of your child’s anxiety when they know what to expect!
  8. Let your kids help with the move. Children love to be a part of the action. Let them dust, pack a box, or sweep!
  9. Say “goodbye” to your old house and then say “hello!” to your new home! This small gesture is big for younger children.
  10. Most of all, listen to your children and their concerns. Even the youngest of children can have a hard time adjusting during a move.

If you’re ready to make a move with your family, we are ready to help! Contact us here to find your dream home!

5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Open House

If your real estate agent is holding an open house to help sell your home, there are some things you can do on your end to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. We all know that it is necessary to clean your house and clear the clutter, but here are some additional tips for presenting your home in its best light to potential buyers!

  1. Remove your pet (and all signs and smells of your pet). If you can, it is a really good idea to bring your pet with you the day of the open house. Put pet beds, bowls and toys away and do your best to vacuum up pet hair and spray pet odor eliminating air freshener. Pet smells that really turn off potential buyers, so do your best to eliminate them before the big day.
  2. Brighten up your home. Open the curtains or blinds, wash your windows and let the sunshine in! Grab some cheery fresh flowers from the store and place them throughout your home. It’s also a great idea to turn the lights on in each room.
  3. Leave a treat. Display cookies or cupcakes on a pretty stand in your kitchen as a “thank you” to your visitors. Not only is it a nice gesture, but it is a great way to encourage them to stand in the kitchen and chat with the realtor showing your home! Bonus points if you leave bottles of water or some fresh lemonade to drink!
  4. Think about the exterior. Start off with a great first impression by power washing your exterior, cleaning up your landscaping, and purchasing a new, clean welcome mat.
  5. Think about every closet and drawer. People are nosy! They are most likely going to open drawers and closet doors. Make sure they are as organized and clutter-free as possible. If you need to, rent a storage unit to place your extra items until you sell your home.

Want more open house tips? Contact an ARE Real Estate agent today!

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Trying to decide if you should build or buy a home? Ask yourself these 4 questions!

If you’re ready for a new space, but unsure if you should purchase a lot to build your dream home, or purchase an existing home, ask yourself these 4 questions.

  1. What’s your budget? While a new construction home may be more costly initially, an existing older home could require large repairs (like a new HVAC system or new roof) later on that can add up. Be sure to consider your initial costs, monthly costs and potential long-term costs before making a decision.
  2. What’s your timeline? Are you in a rush to get into a new home? If so, buying an existing home might be a better choice. Building from the ground-up takes time! According to Realtor.com, the average home takes 3-6 months to build. If you’re on a strict timeline, building a new home might not work. Check with your builder to get a realistic timeline before you move forward.
  3. How important is customization to you? If you have a very specific vision for your home and love thinking about the details, building a new home might be for you! You’ll need to make big decisions about things like your floorplan, paint colors, hardware, flooring options and appliances! For some, this is overwhelming. But other people love it! Which type of person are you?
  4. How much work are you willing to do? An existing home is most likely going to require more maintenance than a new construction home because of its age. But if you’re willing to put in a little work, you could be getting a great deal on a wonderful home that just needs a little love! Make sure to have a full inspection before you close to make sure there are no surprises once you move in.

When you’re ready to search for a new home or discover the ideal lot to build your dream home, we can help! Contact us here!

5 Ways to Fall Back in Love with Your Home

Feeling stuck in a rut with your current home but not sure you are ready to sell? It might just be time for a little switch up! Here are 5 easy ways to fall back in love with your home.

  1. Rearrange the furniture. Configuring your rooms in a new way is an easy way to see your house in a new way. And your new configuration might just work better for you!
  2. Declutter. If you’ve been in your home for a long time, there’s a good chance you’ve accumulated a lot of things. Removing the clutter from your drawers, counters, and shelves will make your home feel fresh again.
  3. Make easy décor changes. Add new throw pillows to your couch, replace your rugs, switch out your hardware or even give your walls a new coat of paint! These easy changes allow your home’s style to evolve with yours!
  4. Switch out your photos. Update the photos in your picture frames and gallery walls with something new! They are sure to bring a smile to your face every time you walk by.
  5. Take a look at your lights. Do your rooms feel light and airy or dim and dingy? Reevaluating your lighting needs in each room can help you improve your home’s functionality and help you to enjoy it more.

If you just can’t seem to find the love in your current home and you are ready to sell, we’d love to help you! Contact us here and let’s get started!

Watch Out for These Summer Safety Hazards at Home

Summer time and the living is easy! Weekends at the lake, grilling every night, relaxing on the patio – summer fun allows us to put our guard down and soak up the sunshine. But unfortunately there are some seasonal dangers around your home in these summer months that we need to stay aware of. Here are some common summer hazards that can happen around the home.

  1. Overworked, outdated AC units. Old and dirty AC units can circulate gross air throughout your house and increase your energy costs a ton in the summer months. Even though we are halfway through summer, it’s not too late to get an AC tune up done by a professional to ensure your system is operating at its best (and safest!).
  2. Unsecured homes. Letting a summer breeze in through open windows and doors is lovely, but it also gives thieves an easy way to get in and steal your valuable property. Always ensure that your home is completely locked up before leaving (including your windows!), especially if you are headed out of town!
  3. Pool safety. According to the CDC about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. If you have a pool, it absolutely must be secured with a four sided pool fence that separates the pool area from the house. The fence should be at least 4 feet high with a self-latching gate. Automatic door locks and door alarms are also a great idea! And remember to remove all pool toys from the deck and pool when you are not using it so children are not tempted to get back in the water. You can never be too cautious with pools.
  4. Grill with caution. Before you fire up the grill, always make sure that it is set up at least 10 feet away from your home. Gas grills should be checked for hose leaks and blockages. Make sure to never step away from the grill while it’s on and to wait for coals to cool completely (if using a charcoal grill) before disposing of them.

We want you to have the best summer possible, and being aware of some safety hazards can help you do just that!

5 Ways to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

Just because you don’t own the building that you live in, doesn’t mean that it can’t feel like home.  We’ve got some easy ways to make your rental feel warm, cozy and like you.

  1. Make inexpensive updates. There are a lot of inexpensive updates you can make to your rental that can reflect your style and make it feel more customized to your tastes. Replace things like toilet seats, light fixtures, towel bars, shower heads, cabinet hardware and even outlet covers.
  2. Decorate the walls. Create a gallery wall with your favorite family photos and hang up your favorite art to really make your home feel like yours. Make a statement by highlighting a large piece of art or make it even more personal by framing large photos of your favorite travels!

picture-frames-1149414_19203. Make it practical. If your rental agreement includes a “no holes policy”, use removable hooks and adhesive strips to make your rental work for you. Need a hook on the back of a door for bath towels? Use a removable hook! You’ll be so much happier in your rental if you install elements that make your day-to-day easier.

4. Add texture. Sometimes a rental can feel a little sterile. Make it soft and comfortable by adding textures to your décor! Lay down a fluffy rug over rental-grade carpet to create a cozier feeling. Utilize throws, soft pillows, and high quality bedding to make you (and your guests!) feel at home.

5. Bring the outdoors in. Add life to your rental by adding house plants to your window sills, tables and kitchen! This is especially beneficial if you do not have a lot of outdoor space where you live.

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What are your favorite ways to make a rental feel like home? Comment below and let us know!

5 Outdoor Upgrades to Increase the Value of Your Home

Now that the weather is nice, it’s the perfect time to add some upgrades to the exterior of your home. But don’t start just any renovation! There are some projects (like adding a swimming pool) that could actually reduce your homes attractiveness to potential buyers. Even if you aren’t thinking of selling your home soon, but you do want to take on some projects this summer, consider these five value-adding exterior projects when deciding what to tackle.

Replace your garage doors. Beautiful, new garage doors are a great way to increase curb appeal and draw buyers from the get-go. While new garage doors are not cheap, the value that a new garage door can bring to your home when you are ready to sell it is almost guaranteed to offset the cost.

Build a fire pit. While some backyard additions can be polarizing, almost every one can agree that there is nothing nicer than enjoying a fire on a cool evening. Install a high-quality, classic fire pit to enjoy now that will eventually woo buyers when you are ready to sell. Want to build your own? Here’s how!

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Spend some time on your landscape. Really dedicating some time this summer to focus on the health of your lawn is worth your investment. Lush landscaping is another curb-appeal factor that will start any home showing off on the right foot.

Build a deck or patio. Adding a deck or patio to your backyard extends your living space which is a huge plus for homebuyers. And of course, you’ll love using it too!

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Plant a tree. Trees are one of the only things that actually appreciate over time. Plant one (or two!) now so that when you are ready to sell, they add value to your home. Looking for the perfect tree for your front yard? Check out this list of “14 Favorite Front Yard Trees”!

What exterior upgrades are most important to you? Comment below and let us know!

10 Hacks to Make Moving Out Easier!

Planning on moving soon? We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite hacks from the internet to help make moving as easy as possible!

  1. Fill your pots and crock pots with spices when you pack them. It saves space and keeps them safe during the move!
  2. Keep your utensils in their organizer, but cover them with plastic wrap so they don’t move!
  3. Remove drawers and put plastic wrap over each. Then you don’t have to empty the contents at all.
  4. Put a fitted sheet on both ends of your mattress before loading into the moving truck to keep it
  5. Before moving complicated electronics, snap a picture of the wiring setup. Then label wires with tape before unplugging so that you can easily rewire your devices when setting up at your new house.
  6. Leave your bathroom necessities in a clear, labeled bin and leave it in an easily accessible space. That way you can grab it quickly when you get to your new place!
  7. Put tape in an X across mirrors to prevent them from breaking or shattering.
  8. Pack books or other heavy items in suitcases with wheels for easy transport.
  9. While your clothes are still hanging in the closet, put them inside a trash bag to make unpacking simpler.
  10. Instead of bubble wrap, protect your dishes and fragile items with clothing and linens. You need to pack them anyway, so might as well make them useful!

For more ideas check out this and this! Do you have any moving tips that we missed! Comment below and let us know!

5 Sounds Your House SHOULDN’T Be Making

All houses make some noise (think: creaky floors, squeaky drawers, and noisy door hinges), but there are some sounds that could mean some big problems. If you hear any of the following 5 sounds in your home, it’s time to call a professional.

  1. Your Lights are Buzzing. If you hear a buzzing sound coming from your outlets or light fixtures, there is probably a loose connection. Call an electrician right away to make sure there is no loose connection which could cause an electrical fire.
  2. Scurrying Coming from the Attic. If it sounds like a rodent, it probably is a rodent. Beyond the “yuck” factor, rodents like squirrels or rats are dangerous to have in your house because they can chew through electrical wires, causing a fire in your house. Get a pest control professional to come and see what’s running around up there ASAP.
  3. Banging from Your AC. If you hear a banging sound or a squealing noise coming from your AC, there’s probably something that needs to be tuned up. Have your unit serviced be a professional to extend its life and ensure that you are operating efficiently.
  4. Running Water. If no one is using anything, but you still hear running water, you could have a big, wet problem on your hands. Call a plumber to do an inspection and see if you have a leak somewhere.
  5. A Hissing Sound. This is probably the worst sound you could hear in your house. If you hear hissing and suspect that you might have a gas leak, leave the house as quickly as possible and DO NOT touch any light switches or anything electric. You’ll need to get as far away from your home as possible (do not turn on your car!), call 911, and warn your neighbors to get far away too.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry! If you hear any of these noises, call a professional to ensure your home is as safe and healthy as possible.

5 Landscaping Hacks to Save You Time This Spring

With warmer weather on the horizon, we’re guessing that you are itching to get outside and get your hands in the dirt! We’ve rounded up our favorite landscaping hacks to help you save time and money this Spring!

  1. Plant Your Pots. If you’re worried about certain plants or flowers taking over your garden, plant them in a pot and put the pot in the dirt! It will keep them contained just where you want them!
  2. Use a Muffin Tin to Help with Seed Spacing. Instead of digging a bunch of holes to plant your vegetable seeds, push a muffin tin into the dirt, drop the seeds into the depressions, cover with soil and water!
  3. Make Mowing as Efficient as Possible. Group plantings into beds with mulch to avoid mowing around each individual plant (which would be super time consuming!)
  4. Get it Right the First Time. Avoid heading back to the store multiple times because you didn’t measure correctly the first time. Figure out the square footage of the area you want to soil or mulch (length x width) and then convert to cubic feet so you know how much material to buy. Here’s a handy mulch calculator to use!
  5. Save Your Grounds. Did you know that coffee grounds keep pests like ants, snails and slugs away? Another reason to drink more coffee!

What are some of your favorite landscaping hacks? Comment below and let us know!

Yes, You WANT a Home Inspection and Here’s Why!

You’ve found your dream home and you’re convinced it’s perfect. While you may feel like you can skip the home inspection, having one done really is essential to the home buying process and totally worth the money. Here are our top reasons why home inspections are essential:

  1. Uncover Safety Issues. A proper home inspection will ensure that the home is safe. A home inspector might find leaky plumbing, improper electrical wiring, fascia problems, improper fan ventilation or inoperable windows during the inspection. Other safety issues that may be uncovered are things like radon, carbon monoxide and mold. Be sure that your home-buying contract states that if any of these hazards are found, you have the option to cancel the offer to buy.
  2. Use it as a Negotiating Tool. If the inspection reveals repairs that need to be made, your inspection report gives you the opportunity to ask the seller for a price reduction to accommodate those repairs. Your realtor will know which repair requests are worth asking for and which can help you negotiate a better deal.
  3. Project Future Costs. A home inspector will be able to take a look at large equipment like the HVAC, water heater and plumbing systems and let you know their current condition and when they might need to be replaced. This will help you predict home much you’ll need to spend on these large items in the future and adjust your home budget accordingly.

You’ll get peace of mind knowing that your future home is in great condition by having a home inspection completed by a qualified home inspector. Ask us who we recommend!