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Judy Reed

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Home Is Where The Heart Is...

by Judy Reed

Ready For An Empty Nest?

by Judy Reed

Now that the wedding is over, you and your spouse are ready for the next exciting milestone: homeownership. There are so many factors you need to keep in mind and you want it to be a pleasant house-hunting experience. The following are just a few things you should take into account when you’re in the market for a new home.

Neighborhood
Marriage is a big transition and it may come with some adjustments to your lifestyle. Have a talk with your spouse and discuss your long-term goals, such as whether you want to start a family or move to a different location for job possibilities. You also should take into account the safety of the neighborhood, the school district in which you live and the amount of families that reside in the area. If you’re thinking about having kids in the near future, having great public schools nearby is important.

Required Space
Discuss what your expectations are for square footage and the general space you want within your home. Keep in mind the space you need for day-to-day activities, family gatherings and your future children. Create a list that helps you prioritize what kind of space is important to you as individuals and as a couple. For example, if you host a lot of parties, you may want to prioritize a large kitchen and living room. If one of you works from home or needs office space, put that on the top of your list.

Keep in mind that compromise is often necessary. Identify which spatial features are and aren’t deal-breakers. House Simple compares some of the things you may want to compromise on, such as the amount of space versus the location, and the fixable faults, like ugly hardware or kitchen countertops.

Bed and Bath Layout
The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home is another important factor you should discuss. Talk about whether or not you want your home to be able to lodge many bodies or if you would prefer to not have visitors. Just make sure you don’t go over your budget, because the number of rooms and bathrooms has a major influence on the asking price of the house. Decide if you really need that extra guest bedroom if it means sacrificing a large kitchen or the perfect location.

If you intend to add on an extra bedroom or bathroom in the future, check the county’s code and permit requirements and the potential cost of the addition. HomeAdvisor puts the cost of a total bathroom remodel at an average of $9,348. If this is less than what it would cost to buy a house with an extra bathroom, then it may be worth it to wait and build a bathroom that is to your exact specifications.

Hidden Expenses
When you determine your budget for your home, make sure you include any ongoing expenses the home has. Utilities are a major cost that vary based on the sustainability and efficiency of your house. Consider the cost it may take to upgrade your heating and cooling system, major appliances, and windows and doors. It may cost more upfront but save you a lot of money in the future, so it’s important to figure out what you can afford in the short and long term. You also should be aware of costs like homeowners association dues, structural update costs, property taxes, insurance and any other regional fees.

Home Security
Look for a home that you can keep safe and sound with solid security features. Search for houses that have trees and tall shrubbery around the lot’s perimeter so they can block the street view of your home. This natural barrier is pleasant to look at and helps prevent burglars from scoping out or monitoring your home.

You also should protect your new valuable asset with a security camera system. Take note of houses you are looking at that have existing CAT5e or BNC security camera cabling. This can save you time and money on security camera installation. Even if your dream house doesn’t have these wires already doesn’t mean that you can’t have this safety feature, though. Installing a full security camera system is not as complex as it once was and doesn’t necessarily require professional installation. Once you know what you’re looking for, you should choose a security camera system that has the security features you need to feel safe and protected night and day, such as HD resolution, long-range night vision, audio capabilities, or ultra-wide angle lenses.

Shopping for your first home as a newlywed couple should be a fun and memorable experience. Be sure to discuss your needs ahead of time, stick to your budget and enjoy the process.

$$ EARN 30% FOR REFERRALS! $$

by Judy Reed

Feeling Like Packed Sardines?

by Judy Reed

Ring In The New Year!

by Judy Reed

Why buying a house should be your new year’s resolution!

by Judy Reed

If you have been contemplating buying a house for the best part of 2016, then you’re not alone! Daydreaming about paint colors, kitchen designs and beautiful gardens is commonplace amongst the house-less, so just what is stopping you taking your perfect picture and making it happen?

If you’ve been putting off house buying in a bid to hold on to more of your disposable income then it may be time to wake up and smell the coffee. The housing market continues to get healthier, so why not take advantage of it and make a pledge to find your dream home in 2017!

Why 2017 will be a good time to buy

After a slow summer, the market seems to have found its feet once more – so much so that there has been an unusual surge in pre-Christmas buyers. Interest rates continue to sit at an historic low and more homeowners seem open to selling. This means that buyers will have more homes to choose from and will be less likely to pay above the odds due to a bidding war. There will also be an increased availability of new builds for first time buyers because of the affordable housing quota within many development sites.

Buying versus renting

The buyers market will be far better that the rental market in the new year. Rental prices continue to rise and it may surprise you to learn that the cost of monthly mortgage repayments can be cheaper than monthly rental bills.

How to prepare to buy a home in 2017

If you have decided that buying a home is on your agenda in the new year, it’s time to make sure you have your finances in order. Do everything you can to ensure that your credit rating is in tip-top condition as this can have a huge effect on your mortgage eligibility and ultimately acceptance. It is quite common for credit score to contain errors, so even if you are careful with you money, it pays to double check your report and inform them of any inaccuracies. Make sure you have saved enough for a deposit, know exactly how much you are likely to be able to borrow and have money aside to cover any fees.

Don’t get burned by Zestimates!

by Judy Reed

People often ask me about Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Homesnap…  It seems like there’s a new real estate internet tool coming off the line every week.  Zillow is definitely the most popular – but it’s also very, very inaccurate.

I understand the appeal of online sites like Zillow: in the deep dark days before the internet (ha!), it used to be that real estate data only came from an agent or brokerage.  Consumers didn’t have independent sources of information; a third party source like Zillow must have seemed like a great way to level the playing field and empower the home owner.

But Zillow doesn’t exist to empower you.  Zillow exists to sell ads.

Check this out on the Zillow Terms of Use page:  “Zillow Group’s business is primarily funded through advertising.”

Ever wonder why you don’t have to pay to use Zillow’s search features?  Because you are their paycheck.  You help them generate ad revenue.

How Does Zillow Know How Much My House is Worth?

The truth is, they don’t.  Zillow might try to give you an accurate idea of your home’s value.  But most of those estimates are generated through old tax assessments, tax assessments which are notoriously un-aligned with actual market value.  And Zillow knows that.  Furthermore, those assessments don’t come with justifications.  Lots of little adjustments go into the proper pricing of a home for sale, things like size, features, age, or changes to the surrounding area.

A skilled agent or appraiser can navigate those adjustments, but Zillow cannot.  Zillow won’t know that your roof is leaking, you installed a hot tub, you have an easement, or that you’re considering a short sale.

As Bill Gassett explains,

Real Estate agents as a whole have a difficult time as it is being trusted by some people. In some circles we are only regarded just above a car salesmen. When a home seller sits down to interview an agent on many occasions a homeowner will already have visited Zillow and taken a look at their “Zestimate of value” for their home.

Along comes a Realtor who presents their comparative market analysis of all the homes in the area that have recently sold, gone under contract and are currently for sale. The Realtor carefully takes the homeowner through all the data until they finally arrive at the suggested list price and probable sale price. The sellers jaw hits the floor. The local real estate expert has just come to the table with a value that is $50,000 less than what Zillow says the home is worth.

This is where the real estate agent has to go on the defensive because “Mr. & Mrs I don’t trust Realtors” is now looking at you like have three heads. How could Zillow be wrong after all they are a really well run organization and we see them advertising on television?

What most sellers don’t understand is that Zillow estimates values of over 100 million homes across the country. It would be impossible for them to accurately predict the value of every home in America.

Zillow does have its advantages: it can tell you which school district a home is in, or get you in touch with a mortgage lender.  But when it comes to the best, most accurate details, ask THE JUDY REED TEAM!!!  After all, it’s their livelihood – they don’t live off of ads.

Are you thinking about selling your home and you’re not sure what your home is worth?  Thinking about buying a home for the first time but not sure about your earning power?

Contact me today for a complimentary marketing analysis of your home’s value, or to learn about the buying process.  There is no obligation, and you might be pleasantly surprised!

 

5 Home Repairs to Make Before You Host a Holiday Gathering

by Judy Reed

 

This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough just preparing for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters, or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit

If you have a large front yard, try to focus on just the front entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights, or replace the bulbs on existing lighting. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest possible way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, you will certainly want to make sure that all floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair to make sure they have dried fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Pro tip: Instantly de-clog a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a full family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you will ensure that their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, consider adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable, and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons, and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t already have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable, or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

Hopefully these ideas will take some of the worry out of holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy each other’s company this season.

Mother-In-Law Apartments Provide Benefits With Relative Ease.

by Judy Reed

​Whether you're housing an elderly relative, a recent grad, or out-of-town visitors, an accessory dwelling unit can be a real asset.

The term “mother-in-law apartment” seems straight out of the Don Draper era — a sardonic reference to strained relations between married couples and parents. These days, many homeowners are turning to these separate-but-joined living quarters as a way to reduce friction in their daily lives, not increase it.

“Mother-in-law apartment” is one of the many nicknames for something known in government circles as an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU. They’re also called granny flats, garden suites, carriage houses and sidekicks. Whatever you call it, an ADU expands a home’s living space through renovation or by adding a separate structure.

The purposes and desired rewards of ADUs vary. You could use the extra space to house an aging family member, an arrangement that offers convenience, peace of mind and an alternative to pricey senior housing.

Got a Boomerang Kid who’s back at home after finishing college? An individual living space can supply some adult-level privacy as he or she figures out a career strategy.

For homeowners without familial obligations, renting out their ADU is a way to earn extra income.

The potential benefits of a mother-in-law apartment are clear. But before you start thinking about floor plans and furnishings, make sure you also have a clear understanding of the work involved

Get ready to spend

ADUs typically fall into two categories: attached (a converted garage or basement, for instance) or detached (such as building a free-standing cottage beside your home). Whichever route you take, be prepared to spend some money and navigate your way through some red tape.

The costs of planning, designing and constructing an ADU can vary a great deal, mainly depending on whether you want to add to an existing home or build from the ground up.

Converting a garage into a separate living space could cost as little as $40,000. Building a detached structure tends to be more expensive, with costs that could approach $100,000 or more. Advocates say prefabricated cottages offer an affordable option, but any ADU is a serious investment.

Think about how you plan to use the unit — as living space for a family member or as a source of income — and spend your money in the way that makes the most economic sense.

What about regulations?

Like any other living space, your ADU will have to comply with local and/or state housing regulations. Fortunately, many urban planners like the ADU concept because it can provide affordable housing options without the negative effects of large-scale residential developments.

In California, some state and local officials have even taken steps to ease restrictions on ADUs. For example, Placer County regulators voted earlier this year to decrease the minimum lot size for accessory units from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet. And State Sen. Bob Wieckowski recently sponsored legislation that includes the elimination of certain fees.

Just like the cost of an ADU, the regulatory landscape can vary by location. Contact your city’s zoning department, or its equivalent, to learn about the requirements in your community.

Protecting your investment

The prep work doesn’t end with blueprints and building permits. You should also make a plan to insure your ADU so that the property and people have adequate protection.

Coverage options may vary by provider and policy, which makes it important to consult with your home insurance agent about questions, such as:

  • Will this unit need its own insurance or will your existing homeowners policy cover it?
  • What are the liability implications of adding an ADU to your home?
  • If you’re renting out the unit, will you need to get landlord insurance?
  • Should you require tenants to have renters insurance to help protect their belongings?

Consider the answers carefully, because they could directly influence your decision.

Don’t forget the due diligence

“Mother-in-law apartment” may have some snarky undertones, but a well-planned and well-executed ADU could seriously improve quality of life for you and your family.

Just make sure that you do your homework — exploring the costs, regulations and insurance requirements — before you start working on your home.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 49