Watch For These 8 Surprising Expenses When Buying A Home

Home buying TV shows always show you the price of a home and then show you the people living in it happily when they’ve closed—they often leave out the difficult and sometimes expensive costs new homeowners are surprised with. Remember to budget for them so you’re not caught off guard.

Finance blog Get Rich Slowly points out there are a number of costs that new homeowners will almost likely have to deal with as soon as they move into their brand new multi-hundred-thousand dollar home that may not be immediately apparent, especially if you’re still reeling from having signed a mortgage for an obscene amount of money. For example, the first thing you’ll probably want to do when you move in is get the locked changed—a new home doesn’t necessarily come with new locks. Depending on whether your home is new, old, or was once used as a rental, there’s often no telling who has a key to your house, and getting that done can add up quickly.
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Getting “Hulk Like” Is The Way To Go – Buyers Are Looking For Green Features

More than 65 percent of home buyers recently surveyed say they desire an “environment friendly” home, but only about 15 percent are willing to pay more for one, according to the “What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences” study from the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB).Green Thumb

But when NAHB changed the way it phrased the question to emphasize the benefits of environmentally friendly features in trimming utility bills, more buyers said they were willing to pay for it – 80 percent compared to 15 percent.

The study also found that energy efficiency was a top priority across races and ethnicities.

In the survey, buyers were asked to choose between a highly energy-efficient home that saved 2 to 3 percent on utility bills over the life of the home versus a home without those features. When couched as a lon
g-term savings, more than 80 percent of buyers preferred the more expensive energy-saving home.

The NAHB survey looked at ethnic differences in green housing preferences. On average, Caucasians would pay $6,774 more for a home with energy efficiency features that lower utility bills; African American buyers are willing to pay $7,578 more; and Asian buyers will pay $8,251 more.

Hispanic buyers were willing to pay the most – an average of $9,146 more for a home with such features, according to the survey.

How To Make Your Kitchen Pop

Home buyers and sellers planning a kitchen redo have a lot of questions they need answered: What style of cabinets are in? What’s the newest color for countertops? What appliances should I install when there are so many? How do I ensure that my kitchen will be a gathering hub?

The cost of redoing a kitchen is on the rise, averaging $109,000 for an upscale renovation and $55,000 for a mid-range transformation, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. You can serve as a much-needed resource for clients, advising them on the dos and don’ts when considering a kitchen remodel and helping them identify improvements within their budget.

We asked some favorite kitchen pundits, including John Petrie, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association and his firm, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa., about everything from paint to hardware to snazzy light fixtures.

Experts say the following dozen trends are generating the hottest buzz in kitchens this year:

1. Safety first. No matter how stunning a kitchen looks or how well it functions, it won’t make one iota of difference if fire occurs. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Home owners have multiple ways to guarantee safety, such as paying full attention when cooking, knowing to smother a flame with a lid if a fire starts, and knowing how to operate a fire extinguisher properly.

When considering a kitchen renovation, clients should consider additional safety systems, such as Guardian Safety Solutions International Inc.’s fire suppression system that turns off a range to prevent reignition.

Design choices can also help curb accidents, such as ovens placed within easy reach of all family members, tactile floors to avoid falls, and good illumination.

2. Cleaner, contemporary lines. Styles fade in and out, typically following suit with fashion trends and the economy. This year, home owners are gravitating away from traditional and even eclectic designs, instead opting for streamlined, modern looks, says Petrie. This preference is showing up in less-ornamented cabinet fronts, sometimes with a flat door or minimal molding and simpler hardware. Trends also include less exotic countertop patterns, simpler floor choices such as wood planks or bigger tiles with less grout, and pared-back color palettes.

If your clients prefer some texture, materials like brick warm up a space with a handcrafted look. Try applying it to novel areas — how about on the ceiling?

3. Open wide. Whether it’s small or large, a kitchen that opens to other rooms — including the outdoors — offers space to cook. Clients could consider the different zones of a kitchen, such as eating and living space, says designer Jeff Collé of Estates by Collé in East Hampton, N.Y. His upscale remodeled kitchens often feature fireplaces, TVs, sound systems, and butler’s pantries — they’re now referred to as “caterer’s kitchens” since they include space and equipment to cook and clean up.

4. White still tops. While white continues to maintain its front-runner status because of its classic chic connotation, gray has increased in popularity, showing up in stained and painted cabinets and countertops fabricated from quartz, quartzite, limestone, granite, and marble with lots of gray veining. If home owners are making choices for a kitchen where they’ll live for years, opting for gray makes sense, but if they’re making improvements to sell, it may be smarter to stay with more buyers’ preference for white. Despite conventional wisdom, some pops of color can liven up a kitchen.

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Here are some examples of appliance trends:

Microwave drawers that are easier for all generations to reach than those placed above a range or cooktop.
Induction cooktops that heat up and cool down faster, saving energy. Their higher prices may deter some, as may their need for higher amps, says Shirley Hood, appliance salesperson and spokesperson for Abt Electronics and Appliances in Glenview, Ill.
More powerful gas range burners that offer higher output, even 18,000 BTUs.
Steam ovens that cook faster and allow for healthier food preparation, along with a second convection oven; some steam ovens include a cleaning function that permits spills to be removed without heating and smelling up a kitchen for hours, says Hood.
French-door style refrigerators that make it easier to view contents when doors are opened, they’re now available from some manufacturers with four doors.
Hot-water dispensers on refrigerator doors.
Refrigerator drawers, which can be located anyplace in a kitchen or family room for easy access and let family members get to fresh foods without crowding the main work zone.
Beverage centers and wine coolers that are placed strategically at points of use.
Dishwashers that have three and four racks for silverware and utensils; also, models that use less water, are quieter and bigger, and place jets along side walls.
Integrated appliances, better camouflaged behind panels to dress up open-style kitchens.
Faucets that conserve water and have touchless controls.
Long, deep, one-bowl sinks, sometimes with cutting boards to conserve space.
Smaller appliances that fit into smaller condos and homes.
Built-in coffee makers fully in view. Everyone wants to be a barista!
8. Drawers beneath countertops rather than doors. Rather than have to go through a two-step process of opening below counter cabinets and reaching into and rummaging through shelves, drawers that pull out and present all their contents are taking hold. The one downside: These shelves aren’t adjustable as are those in many cabinets.

9. Glass splash and more. Backsplashes have become a major focal point; subway tiles are still popular, though now with beveled edges; matte rather than glossy finishes; a variety of colors rather than just classic white; and in larger 4-by-10-inch formats rather than traditional 3-by-6-inch sizes. Today’s trend is also to lay the tiles in vertical rather than horizontal rows. Bigger glass tiles in shimmery hues are grabbing attention, too—and they represent a green choice, made out of recycled materials. Another option is handcrafted tiles with an Art Deco and Frank Lloyd Wright influence.

10. LED lighting. Because it’s been mandated by certain states and the federal government has required that incandescent lamps be phased out unless sufficiently energy efficient, more professionals and home owners are making the switch to energy-wise LEDs underneath cabinets and in cans, pendants, chandeliers, and sconces. Costs have come down for LEDs, and lighting trends lean toward fewer but larger pendants above islands and more decorative fixtures above tables.

11. Look, ma, no desk. Due to the trend of using smaller personal electronic devices—computers, tablets, phones—fewer homeowners need a separate desk. Nowadays, a designated counter with several outlets, sometimes concealed, becomes the go-to charging station replacing a desk.

12. Eating in and cooking out. An eating area is more de rigueur, whether it’s a big table, a corner banquette with a table, or a countertop. And outdoor kitchens, with varying dimensions depending on climate and budgets, remain popular. Many home owners no longer want the full panoply of outdoor appliances, which were often underutilized and overpriced; a good grill sometimes may be sufficient.

Sources: Charles B. Clark Jr., vice president of engineering services at the Brick Industry Association, Reston, Va.; Jeff Collé, Estates by Jeffrey Collé, East Hampton, N.Y.; Dan Hechtkopf and Reid Heidenry, South Beach Investment Realty, Miami Beach, Fla.; Shirley Hood, marketing, ABT Electronics and Appliances, Glenview, Ill.; Claudia Juestel, Adeeni Design Group, San Francisco; John Petrie, president, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry, Mechanicsburg, Pa..; Kristin Petro, Kristin Petro Interiors, Elmhurst,

Charge Your iPhone/iPad 2x Faster & Get Some Work Done At The Same Time


Ever feel like the notifications on your iDevice are never ending and distracting you from whats making you money on a daily basis? This easy trick will help you out two fold and allow you to first off, charge your iPhone or iPad nearly 2x’s faster than traditionally charging methods by “silencing” the wifi and cellular signals. Your device no longer has to use these radios to constantly search or maintain connections to the web or cellular towers. Ad-Hoc Charging from MacbookIt works especially well if you have no other means than to charge your device ad-hoc from your MacBook and the “juice” isn’t as impactful as a wall charger. The second added feature may actually benefit you more than having a fully charged iDevice at any given time. Give yourself 30 minutes of peace…….no longer are you constantly being harassed by dings, bells and whistles about your latest Instagram “like” or Facebook friend request while your trying to close some deals. Dont ever miss out on that listing appointment or phone call from that multi-millionaire client because your iPhone is dead as a door nail again. Plan ahead and if need be use this easy tactic to get that battery back to 100% fast and create some new business for yourself at the same time.

“Out Shine” The Competition

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There are five houses on your street for sale, all with the same number of bedrooms and baths, and priced about the same. What can you do to make your home stand out from your neighbors? The answer is to have the cleanest home on the block. Selling a home is like dating. There are a lot of choices out there. You have to look good, smell good and present yourself in a good light, or there won’t be a second date.Interested buyers will be spending a lot of time in your home, checking out all the surfaces, nooks and crannies. A dusty home can be a real turn-off for a potential buyer who starts sneezing after entering the foyer. To prepare for this, all you need to do is clean, clean, clean.

Here are some specific ideas from members of Florida Realtors® to get your home ready for a white-glove inspection:

+Top it off — Most cleaning takes place in locations that can be seen, but don’t forget that dust tends to collect on top surfaces. That means cleaning pictures, paintings, mirrors, medicine cabinets, intercoms, chair rails, moldings, wall units, breakfronts, bookcases, refrigerators, air returns, headboards, storage units, closet shelves, pantry shelves, doors, window ledges, wooden valances, grillwork, chair rungs, fixtures, backsplashes, exhaust-fan hoods, fan blades and books.

+Less is more — Start packing for your move when you list your home for sale. That means you’ll have less to keep clean while your home is being shown. This makes cleaning easier, and makes your place look more like a “model home.”

+Make a checklist — Make a list of the 10 things that must be cleaned before Realtors arrive with potential buyers. Keep your list handy in an inconspicuous place so you’ll always be ready for guests. Here are some suggestions for your cleaning list:

-Sweep the porch
-File the mail
-Sweep or wash the foyer floor
-Clean and shine the sinks
-Make the beds
-Clean and polish kitchen appliances
-Pick up books, afghans and pillows
-Remove dishes from the sink
-Put newspapers in the recycling bin
-Keep magazines neatly arranged in a magazine rack
-Take care of any pet dishes, toys, litter boxes or messes.

Thanks you to floridarealtors.org for the attached article.

House Flipping Is Back!

MIAMI – Oct. 17, 2012 – Buying up homes, rehabbing and reselling them for a profit was big during the housing boom. But when the housing market started to slump, house flippers nearly vanished.

As the housing market recovers, house flipping may be showing signs of re-emerging, according to The Washington Post.

In the first half of 2012, house flips increased 25 percent compared to a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac. The average profit on each property is $29,342, according to the real estate research firm.

“There are flippers in any market, but a market where home prices are appreciating is much more forgiving for flippers than a market where prices are depreciating,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “We have turned that corner in a lot of places in the last six months, so that’s going to attract flippers.”

Areas hit hardest in the housing crash are seeing some of the largest increases in flipping as investors buy foreclosures and short sales at large discounts. Phoenix has had the highest number of reported flips, followed by Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta.

Source: “Flipping Houses Is Once Again a Booming Business,” The Washington Post (Oct. 14, 2012)

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