Category Archives: Tips

Study: Smart Home Tech Adoption Motivated by Comfort, Safety

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Comfort and safety are the primary reasons more homeowners are adopting smart home technology, according to a recent study by Scripps Networks Interactive in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). “Keeping up” with the latest technology, the study shows, is less of a factor, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they implement smart home technology “to keep their family safe and comfortable.” Energy-efficiency, as well, is another motivator, with the intention to boost resale value and reduce energy costs.

Millennials are the most likely to adopt smart home technology, according to the study, “to make their home convenient for daily tasks;” those in Generation X, conversely, prefer smart home technology as a means “to make their home a healthy environment.” Baby boomers, in addition, favor smart home technology “to add value to their home.” Eighty-five percent of millennials are likely to add smart home technology to their home, compared to 73 percent of those in Generation X and 67 percent of baby boomers.

The kitchen is the top spot for smart home technology, with those studied purchasing app-enabled, connected appliances, such as a smart refrigerator, motion-activated lighting and voice-activated speakers. Generation X respondents reported the kitchen as the top spot for smart home technology more than any other generation.

Fifteen percent of study respondents cite the front door as the most desired place for adding technology, while 13 percent cite the living room. Forty-four percent cite “energy monitoring” and “light automation” as their most desired tools; computer-controlled or mobile device-operated systems, a doorbell camera and surveillance equipment are also popular.

Smart home technology, according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), is becoming more concerning to homebuyers and sellers, who are most interested in privacy and security measures.

Source: Scripps Networks Interactive
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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Dodge Winter Lawn Damage

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Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.

Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.

Snow Plow Damage

Install brightly-colored boundary markers along the edges of paved areas to help protect lawn and shrubs from snow plow and snow thrower blades. Lightweight wooden stakes, at least four feet tall with bright reflective tape and brightly covered fiberglass rods, serve as good markers. Avoid heavy metal, fence posts and other large objects, as they can pose a hazard to snow plow operators.

Cold Temperature Stress

More so than any other season, trees and shrubs are vulnerable to changing weather conditions during the winter. Wide temperature fluctuation and extremely low temperatures are the biggest factors of tree stress, meaning your trees are more susceptible to things like frost cracks, sunscald and winter burn.

Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.

Proper fertilization can help keep your trees and shrubs healthy well into spring, and allow them to better tolerate winter. A service can help with tree and shrub services customized to meet your landscape’s every need, including applications to control overwintering insects, pests and mites.

Freezing Temperatures

Damage to plants, shrubs and trees as a result of sustained low temperatures can typically go undetected until spring or early summer, when plants fail to produce new growth. To help prevent damage, maintain a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to help protect the crown and roots from weather extremes.

Winter Dehydration

During the colder months of winter, plants cannot replace moisture lost from leaves and needles. This leads to “dehydration” – technically known as desiccation. To help avoid this problem, maintain proper watering late into the fall, or water during periods of winter thaw.

Ice Melt

Ice-melting agents, such as rock salt and products containing calcium and magnesium chloride, may accumulate in the soil and cause damage to plants. Use extreme care when applying ice-melting agents to prevent damage to your plants or concrete surfaces.

Source: TruGreen.com
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Top 5 Reasons the Mortgage Process Gets Bogged Down

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Things are moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! out of no where come mortgage issues… how could this happen?!  Believe it or not, there are a few very common things that frequently are the sources of those bumpy roads. Read on for some tips from Jason Banks, with Presidential Mortgage.

1)         Internet banking – With the invent of internet banking, we find clients are very active with money transfer.  Each transfer has to be paper trailed and followed.  We once had a client with 23 different accounts that they would push money to every month.
2)         One day sale! – I get called a few times a month by the client that is at LOWES, HOME DEPOT, SEARS, etc. stating they have a fantastic sale on Washer Dryer.  Keep in mind, the mortgage process is like a recipe…change one ingredient and you may not end up with a house.
3)         Availability of Funds – any time a borrower is withdrawing funds from a 401k, IRA, TSP, or some other “non-cash” account, we recommend that the client withdraw the funds at least 2 weeks prior to settlement.  We have had clients try to wait to the last minute only to find out it is a 10 day process…
4)         Lack of Urgency – The mortgage process is many times a very tight time line.  I find that for some clients, they are not aware that every day counts.  I have sent loan papers out on a Monday to be told they can get them back to me within a week OR SO….  The quicker we get the loan package the quicker we can get everything ready to submit.  On every file we hope to have the loan ready to submit the minute we get the appraisal in hand.
5)         Appraisals – The timing of appraisals continues to be an issue.  We are now requesting the reports be turned into us with 15 days.  This is up from 10.  So please write your contracts accordingly as we cannot push appraisers for expedited service based on HVCC guidelines.

Everyone wants a smooth deal… taking these observations to heart will be a huge help in keeping the mortgage process moving smoothly along.

Make that list… and check it twice!

Yes, I know we are entering into one of the busiest times of the year; never-the-less, there are a few essential items that every REALTOR should complete by the end of the first week of the new year, less the find themselves with out of date, year old information.

To-Do ListOut with the old, in with the new, and update what is remaining!  There is nothing worse for a business person than having old or out of date information floating around in cyberspace.

To help you get your new year off right, here is a handy dandy list to help you start 2017 off on an updated and accurate note:

  1. Update your profile on the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Resource Center.
    Make sure all of your information, including your picture, is correct and up-to-date.
  2. Update your profile on Home Swing:
    Make sure all of your information is correct and up-to-date
    Make sure your “notifications” are properly set so you are emailed or texted when you receive an incoming web lead.
  3. Update your profile on Zillow, Realtor.com, and anywhere else you have a profile:
    Register with Zillow if you have not done so
    Make sure all of your information is correct and up-to-date
    Up-load testimonials if available (see number 4)
  4. Ask 2016 clients and customers for testimonials and post on your website.  If you have not done so, do it now.
  5. Edit your CRM in Home Swing:
    Add, remove, and edit your contacts in Home Swing.
  6. Send everyone in your CRM/Contact list/SOI a “Happy Holiday” or “Merry Christmas” Card.
    At minimum send them an e-card from the Resource Center
  7. Set up your drip campaigns for 2017.
    Log into Home Swing and set up appropriate drip campaigns for next year
    Set up a holiday card campaign at minimum
  8. Update your knowledge and information about company programs
    Are you prepared to discuss and promote the following?  Real Estate Rewards, The Global web-site, Membership in the Credit Union
  9. Review your 2017 business goals:
    If you have not already, establish your production goals;
    Put your lead generating plan in writing and commit to it;
    Set targets for interim goals (1st quarter listings, sales and income)
  10. Sit down with your broker or coach and commit to a coaching and accountability plan for the new year.  This will make achieving #9 much easier.

Finally, look back over your successes in 2016 and enjoy a few days off with your friends and family.  It was a great year!

 

Five Best Kitchen Remodeling Tips

When you shop for a home, what do you look for in the kitchen? Granite counters? Storage? Breakfast bar? Sparkling stainless appliances? If you’re buying an older home like most buyers, you may have to update to get the look and features you want. Here are five tips to get started:

  1. Work with a kitchen design professional. They’re trained to help you solve the most challenging kitchen problems and to work within your budget. A kitchen designer can recommend contractors and oversee all installations to make sure they are done correctly. Some can serve as contractors for a turnkey job.
  2. Hire qualified contractors. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Check references, licenses, and make sure their subcontractors are also bonded and insured.
  3. Consider the age of the home for a more organic look. For example, mid-century linoleum floors are more in fashion now than ever before. New patterns and colors in tile can mimic wood or stone for easy upkeep. Try porcelain instead of wood on cabinets for a sleek minimalist look.
  4. Be willing to compromise on costs or space. Cut the expense of new cabinetry by replacing some uppers with trendy open shelving. Splurge on granite for the island, but finish the other countertops with a workhorse stone-like laminate or tile.
  5. Don’t try to save money by doing work you aren’t qualified to do. You may be able to install flooring or a backsplash with a friend and a tutorial, but if a job requires a license like an electrician or plumber, it’s best to hire a professional.

Of course, always remember to call your favorite Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty agent at 703-836-1464 for tips, suggestions, and referrals to our list of vetted contractors.

Renegotiating After the Home Inspections

Negotiations don’t necessarily end when you and the seller sign the contract to purchase. You have the right to have the home you’re buying inspected for soundness, which you can include as a contingency to your offer. That way, if the inspection reveals a serious issue, you and the seller can address it through renegotiations.

During the inspection process, the inspector is required to tell you about the condition of the appliances, heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing systems, foundation, roofing, exterior materials and so on.

Depending on where you live, you may also get separate inspections for pests and environmental issues such as radon. You’ll also learn if your future home is up to current building codes and what needs to be done to bring it up to code.

Most sellers expect to make reasonable repairs and replacements if the inspection reveals an issue that wasn’t obvious when you first agreed to terms. As long as communication remains open and civil, the seller should have as much desire to make the sales contract work as you do.

The Seller Who Tests the Market

When you see the market rising, it’s tempting to price your home even higher than nearby homes that recently sold. So you tell your listing agent that you want to “test” the market to see if you can get even more for your home.

Sometimes, it’s appropriate to choose a list price higher than recent comparable sold homes, but that strategy seldom works unless the market is climbing rapidly. If you’re looking for a quick, hassle-free sale, you need to decide which is more important – getting more for your home or moving on to your new life somewhere else.
Let’s say your neighborhood’s highest, most recent home sale was $500,000, and your agent suggests a listing price of $510,000. You want to test the market at $530,000 – which is $20,000 more than your agent recommends, and $30,000 over the latest comparable.

Your home hits the market at $530,000 and has tons of showings the first week. Your strategy is working, except that you don’t receive any offers. By the second week, there are few to no showings. Agents are reporting back to your listing agent that their buyers said your home “needs work,” or that they “found something more suited to their needs.”

After months of making two mortgage payments, your home finally sells at $518,000. Meanwhile, you paid months of overhead to get $9,000. You actually lost peace of mind and threw away a lot of money.

Overpriced homes simply take longer to sell. If you’re tempted to “test the market”, remember that the market will test you.

For accurate pricing, staging, and home selling assistance, always remember to call your favorite Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty agent at 703-836-1464.