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Posted by Paul W. Cutler on 8/20/2017

A home showing can make or break your chances of selling your house. Therefore, you'll want to do everything possible to ensure that each home showing is a success.

Ultimately, there are several best practices for home showings that every home seller needs to know, and these practices include:

1. Clean and Declutter Your House

A tidy home is sure to garner homebuyers' attention. Comparatively, a messy house is unlikely to do you any favors in a competitive real estate market.

Allocate the necessary time and resources to clean your house. Mop the floors, wipe down the walls and perform assorted home interior cleaning. Also, don't forget to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and ensure your house's exterior looks great.

In addition, eliminate clutter from your home as soon as possible. By doing so, you can show off the true size of your living space to potential buyers.

2. Remove Personal Belongings from Your Home

Although you may have many personal photographs and other treasured mementos scattered throughout your house, you should put these items away before a home showing. That way, you can make it easy for homebuyers to envision what life might be like if they purchase your house.

When it comes to personal belongings, it sometimes can be tough to hide these items. However, if you store your personal belongings properly, you can guarantee these items will maintain their quality and appearance until you sell your house.

Pack up any treasured belongings carefully. Then, you can put these items in a storage unit for safe keeping. Or, if a family member or friend has storage space to spare, you can always ask a loved one to store your personal belongings temporarily.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to host a successful home showing, you're not alone. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals know what it takes to transform an ordinary home showing into an unforgettable experience.

A real estate agent can offer expert recommendations to help you get your house show-ready. In fact, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the best home cleaning companies in your area. He or she also is unafraid to be honest and will share any home interior or exterior concerns with you.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will teach you about the real estate market. He or she can educate you about the differences between a buyer's and seller's market, respond to your home selling concerns and questions and much more. Thus, if you work with a real estate agent, you should have no trouble making informed decisions throughout the home selling journey.

Take the guesswork out of prepping your house for a showing Ė use the aforementioned best practices, and you can improve the look and feel of your house in no time at all.




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Posted by Paul W. Cutler on 8/13/2017

At one time or another, everyone has postponed cutting their grass -- even if it's already overdue for a thorough mowing. Sometimes you have other plans: You're going away for the weekend, it's too hot, or maybe some friends just invited you over for a cold drink. There's no question that priorities often shift and more desirable choices present themselves. However, there are a handful of unexpected problems that could develop if you postpone lawn mowing for more than several additional days. Here are a few potential pitfalls to consider the next time you're thinking about waiting another week or so before tackling that jungle in your yard! Ground-nesting yellow jackets: There are a number of reasons that certain species of bees may decide that the soil in your backyard is a highly desirable place to build a nest, but uncut grass and a lack of human activity may make it even more inviting for them to set up shop. Although some ground-nesting bees are not always aggressive, yellow jackets are an exception. Mowing your lawn on a regular basis will not necessarily prevent bees from nesting in the ground, but short grass, regular human activity, and the noise of lawnmower may be somewhat of a deterrent. Keeping your grass well trimmed and your lawn maintained also makes it easier to spot bee activity in its early stages and take the appropriate action. In some cases, "appropriate action" is calling a professional exterminator and avoiding the infested area completely -- especially if you or anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings. Although your backyard should be a fun and carefree environment, it's a good idea to be observant and cautious when it comes to things like bee infestations. Other unwelcome visitors: If your yard is relatively quiet and undisturbed by lawn mowing and other activity for a few weeks, you may also discover large animal holes and burrows appearing. Not only does this damage your yard and create a tripping hazard, but there are a variety of undesirable animals -- including skunks -- that could be making their home on your property! Wear and tear on your lawnmower: Unless your lawnmower is new, exceptionally well maintained, and designed for rugged conditions, it probably does not do that well in long, thick grass. Forcing an older mower to work harder through heavy grass could cause it to overheat, shut down, or otherwise malfunction. Obvious drawbacks: Allowing your grass to grow beyond a couple inches can visibly detract from the appearance of your property. Even if you're not considering putting your house on the market in the near future, maintaining "curb appeal" will benefit neighbor relations and pride of home ownership. If vacations, physical limitations, or a busy social agenda keep you from mowing your lawn on a bi-weekly (or sometimes more frequent) basis, the solution may lie in using the services of an economical professional landscaping, mowing, or yard maintenance service. While it can be satisfying to have "hands on" involvement in keeping your property in tip top shape, sometimes there are other things you'd rather be doing!





Posted by Paul W. Cutler on 8/6/2017

Want to relocate to a condo? Buying a condo can be an uphill climb, particularly for homebuyers who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who will allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure you can find a top-notch condo in no time at all.

Ultimately, hiring the right real estate agent to assist you during your condo search can be easy. Here are three questions that you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to guide you during your condo search:

1. How have you helped condo buyers in the past?

Ask a real estate agent about his or her past experience with condo buyers Ė you'll be glad you did. With this information at your disposal, you can find out how a real estate professional collaborates with condo buyers to help them achieve their goals.

A real estate agent should be a good communicator, i.e. someone who keeps condo buyers informed at each stage of the condo buying journey. That way, this real estate professional will keep you up to date about new condos as they become available and ensure you can find a great condo at a budget-friendly price.

When in doubt, be sure to ask for client referrals too. By doing so, you can reach out to a real estate agent's past clients to learn about their condo buying experiences.

2. How do you approach difficult situations?

Unfortunately, the condo buying journey sometimes can be filled with roadblocks along the way. For real estate agents, it is important to remain calm, cool and collected in these situations and do everything possible to limit their impact.

Ask a real estate agent to share details about past condo buying experiences that did not necessarily go according to plan. This will provide you with insights into how a real estate agent approaches unforeseen circumstances and whether he or she can thrive under pressure.

A real estate professional with condo buying experience should do whatever it takes to help his or her client get the best results possible. With this real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble securing your dream condo, regardless of the challenges that you encounter along the way.

3. Why should I hire you?

There is no right or wrong answer as to why you should hire a real estate agent to help you find a condo. For many condo buyers, it is a gut feeling. Meanwhile, other property buyers will choose a real estate professional based solely on his or her education and past successes.

As a condo buyer, it is important to employ a real estate agent who you will feel comfortable working with at all times. This real estate professional should be happy to help you in any way possible and respond to your condo buying concerns and queries. In addition, he or she will go the extra mile to ensure you can buy a terrific condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.




Tags: buyer tips   Buying a home   condo  
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Posted by Paul W. Cutler on 7/30/2017

One of the best things that you can add to your home is a solar power system. These can be costly but they save you a lot in the long term on utility costs. While government programs have scaled back for these energy saving improvements over the years, thereís still many benefits to them. You can even get a loan specifically for installing solar power to your home.


Before you take the leap, youíll want to know for sure if solar will really add value to your home. Of course, you want a return on your investment. 


The good news is that thereís no doubt about it that installing solar panels does definitely add value to your home. Thereís one caveat to the value: You should own your   solar power system as opposed to leasing it through a solar company or a power purchase agreement. 


Homes that have solar panels sell for more money simply because they offer a definite return benefit to the future owner. 


Does A Leased Solar System Offer The Same Benefits?


Owning your solar system will save you more money in the long run than leasing your system. When you own a solar power system, the FHA requires that the total value of your solar system be added to the total value of your home when you go to sell it. If you lease the panels, this value cannot be added to the home during an assessment.   


If you have financed the system, the rules may be a bit more lenient. While you technically donít own the system, you are paying towards owning the system yourself. Each lender will have their own standards for this, so check with them for specifics, as your home must meet certain standards and eligibility requirements. 


Securing A Mortgage With A Leased Solar System


If someone is looking to secure a mortgage with a leased or currently unowned solar energy system, there are a few hurdles that you might face through the process. These problems include:


Solar lease payments must be included in the buyerís debt-to-income ratio. 

The panel owners must have a third-party insurance to cover damage to the property thatís being mortgaged in the event of malfunction or faulty installation of the panels.         


Solar Panels Are An Overall Great Investment


Itís really hard to go wrong if you purchase or finance your solar panel system. As long as you own the system, value will be added to your home. Youíll also save on your own utility bills. Your home will undoubtedly become more attractive to buyers if you decide to sell your home in the future.




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Posted by Paul W. Cutler on 7/23/2017

One of the biggest benefits to buying a home is that of the tax savings for you. You own a home now, so thereís no more monthly rental payments going out the window. All of your mortgage payments are going towards your financial future. Thereís many different types of tax breaks that you can get from owning your home. Many home improvement projects that allow you an extra tax break are hiding right in the fine print! Tax breaks are known as ďincentives.Ē These incentives are essentially what help people to get important things in their homes done without having a order placed on them. There are some hidden things that you may not have known could be used as tax write-offs.  


Energy Savings


From putting solar panels on your home to replacing appliances, there are certain tax breaks that you can get for making your home more energy efficient. There are lifetime caps on these deductions, but on a certain year, youíll be able to save some extra money on your taxes. Some of the deductions that you might be able to claim include:


  • Air-source heat pumps
  • Biomass stoves
  • Central AC units
  • Water heaters
  • Certain energy-generation systems which include an array of things like water heaters, solar panels, fuel cell systems, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.


You can deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of the cost of these improvements to your home. It doesnít hurt to check on the updated standards that are introduced each year by the government. Your accountant can help you to understand your own deductions a bit more in-depth. 


Modifying Your Home For Medical Needs


If you need to modify your home in order to accommodate medical needs, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. The modifications must not increase the value of your home and be medically necessary. If the doctor tells you to lose weight and you put in a home gym, you canít deduct that. If you need a ramp put in your home for wheelchair accessibility, then that can be deducted. The cost of the modifications generally has to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5% if youíre over the age of 65. 


Whatís Not Deductible


If you have done some major remodeling around your home, itís sad to say that these improvements probably arenít tax deductible. On the positive side, you will get a bigger return on your home when you do decide to sell it. This could help you to reduce any capital gains tax that you may have to pay on the sale of the home.


Remember that when you make improvements to your home, youíre doing it first for your own needs. Any tax write-offs that you may get are merely a bonus.




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