Selling Your Home? The Bathroom Is One of the Most Important Rooms

It’s been said that “kitchens and bathrooms” sell houses.  So, when you are ready to sell your home, here are some tips on how to “show” your bathroom in all of its glory.

First of all, concentrate on getting it as clean as possible.  There are many products on the market that will easily get rid of mildew. Lighten up the grout between the tiles. Get rid of soap scum.  Make sure mirrors and the shower door glass sparkles.

Second, remove stuff from the counter tops.

Third, hide the plunger and trash cans.

Fourth, remove the rugs.  They make a bathroom look smaller. Make sure the floor is clean.

Fifth, if you have a master bathroom, make it appear as an “oasis.”  Place some candles around the soaking tub. A couple of plush towels.  Maybe a fern or orchid plant.

The whole goal is to make the bathroom inviting and not have a buyer think they are walking into a locker room.

The Dog Days of Summer

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
August 15, 2017 – 

 

August 15 is supposed to be right in the middle of the dog days of August. But we learned recently that the phrase “dog days of August” relates to the period that Sirius, a star known as the “Dog Star,” rises at the same time as the sun. This period is typically in late July until early August. Thus, the phrase is also known more generally as the “dog days of summer.”

What does the dog days of summer mean for the markets? Not only are families taking vacations, so are institutions. The Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee does not meet in August. Congress is in recess and the President is on a long working vacation. Even equity traders and market analysts are on vacation, which typically results in lower trading volume for stocks, bonds and more. Thus, everyone should be taking a long-deserved break during August.

Does that mean that the month will be completely quiet? We can’t really predict a complete time of rest for the markets. Traditionally, during times of lower trading volume, any type of major event could produce more volatility than usual. And, though it seems that everyone in D.C. is on vacation, the world does not go to sleep. Nor does the weather. For our part, we do hope that everyone has a restful remainder of the summer and that the quiet enables those economic sleeping dog days to lie about as well.

A personal note.  I was lucky enough to be the low qualifier and therefore the #1 seed in our Club Championship at Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club to be played this coming weekend.  I was very fortunate to shoot a one over par 73 which included a chip-in eagle on the 18th hole.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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Preventing Break-Ins: How to Keep Your Home Safe from Thieves

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It’s been reported that in the US, a home is robbed every 14.6 seconds.  The average loss is just a little over $2,000.  So, if you have a $1,000 deductible on your homeowner’s insurance policy, only half of your loss would be covered.

Here are some strategies for keeping your home safe from would-be thieves:

Tear up cardboard boxes – There’s no better way for thieves to see that you just bought a new TV, computer, microwave, than by the empty box that is left alongside the trash containers.  Tear/cut them up and bundle them so they are inconspicuous.

Lock doors and windows – It may seem obvious, but most thieves gain access through open doors and windows that someone forgot to lock.

Don’t hide your keys in the obvious places – Thieves look for the “fake rock.”  The ledge above the door.  The door mat.  Consider leaving it with a neighbor, or in a less conspicuous location.

Don’t announce your plans on social network sites – While you may be excited to share your vacation plans (or a trip out of town for a wedding or funeral), don’t announce the dates you will be leaving and returning.  Wait till you return to post your pictures.

Do a little landscaping – Cut back bushes and trees that may hide windows and doors, which may also hide a thief from view.

Replace light bulbs – Another obvious strategy, but a well-lighted house will thwart thefts.

Close drapes/blinds – Giving someone a clear view of what you have inside can be trouble.  Even if you are leaving your home for a short period of time, close the drapes or blinds so thieves can’t see what you own.

Just a little prevention can save you money, as well as the heartache of someone violating your private space.

What about Those Energy Audits?

What is an energy audit?

It’s an audit by a qualified company to determine the efficiency of your heating, insulation, doors, windows, etc.

The audit considers a home a “system” where the components work together to determine where you might improve and save money on energy costs.

The contractor provides a series of tests.

A blower door test and a duct blaster test are done.  This determines if there are potential “leaks” that can be plugged around windows, doors and furnace area.

They also should check for air-flow pressure, energy efficiency, moisture and air-quality issues.

Here’s the thing.

Many of the recommendation are inexpensive fixes.  You normally don’t have to replace windows or doors—just provide additional insulation.

Good air flow may be a matter of cleaning your furnace or servicing your air conditioning unit.

Most of all, you may save a ton of money in energy costs.

What Can You Do To Make Your Home Appraise Higher?

If you are considering refinancing your current mortgage, the mortgage company usually (but not always) requires an appraisal.

I recently read an article co-written by a couple of appraisers with some tips on how you can help ensure the highest and most accurate value of your home.

  1. Clean up the yard. Appraisers are required to take pictures of the home. If you have stuff laying around the yard or several cars in the driveway, move them before the appraiser arrives.
  1. Clean the house. They also take pictures of the rooms in your home.  Store stuff in closets.  Under the bed.  In the garage.  That may help you get a higher value.
  1. Make repairs. Maybe there is a hole in the drywall.  Or water stains from a plumbing leak.  Be sure to repair those before the appraiser arrives
  1. Lay out a sketch of your home. If you had a previous appraisal or you built your home, provide those to the appraiser.
  1. Improvements – If you made any improvement to the home, let the appraiser know. Providing copies of invoices and a list of updates within the last 5 years or so will also help.
  1. Other home sales in your area. If you know of any homes (like yours) that have sold within the last 6 months, mention that to the appraiser and ask them to check them out.
  1. Best home feature. Tell the appraiser what you like about the home.  Its location and its best “feature” (i.e., open floor plan).
  1. Safety features. Does the local government require smoke or carbon monoxide detectors?  Make sure those are installed and functioning correctly.

Please contact me if you are considering refinancing your home to lower your payment, to pay off debts or get some cash to buy a car or pay for college.

The Economic Expansion Continues

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
August 8, 2017 –

 

The long road back from the Great Recession began in mid-2009 and July marks the 96th month of recovery. This makes it the third longest expansion on record, and if we continue at the present pace, this recovery will become the second longest expansion in history in the middle of next year. There are two reasons for the length of this recovery. First, the Great Recession was a very deep recession, thus we had a very long road back.

Second, the recovery has been slow and steady. Even though our growth has not been strong, we have stayed out of a recession partly because the economy has not overheated. If the economic expansion did heat up, then interest rates would be much higher and this could endanger the recovery. We have enjoyed very low interest rates for the past decade and this year is no exception.

Nowhere is the length of the recovery more evident than the jobs market. The economy lost close to nine million jobs in a very short period of time. In the decade that has followed, we have added approximately 17 million jobs. While these are really strong numbers, we have only added eight million jobs net of the recession, and this averages out to less than one million per year over the past decade. This helps us put July’s job numbers in perspective. We added just over 200,000 jobs for the month with an unemployment rate of 4.3%, both solid numbers. We still have some work to do in creating better paying jobs and taking care of those who have left the workforce but did not retire. However, we have come a long, long way.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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How to Break into the Luxury Home Market

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I recently read an article written by a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS designation offered by NAR), and I wanted to share some tips with you on how to break into the luxury home market.

In addition, consider studying the lifestyles and habits of the rich. A great book to read is The Millionaire Next Door, which debunks the theory that the truly rich are not who you think they are.

Get familiar with the luxury lifestyle.

  • Visit luxury homes and get familiar with the types of upgrades included—especially kitchens, baths, and landscaping.
  • Check out the garages – usually 5 to 10 stalls; finished walls and tile floors. A bathroom. Maybe even a high-end toolshed.
  • Learn the luxury brands of cars/antique cars and know what they cost to acquire.
  • Visit showrooms where high-end home finishes and décor can be found. Learn the prices and what sets them apart from standard finishes.
  • Attend high-end antique auctions. The rich look for unique items that nobody else has.
  • Attend the theatre. Join a country club. Join a boat club. Go to high-end restaurants.

Learn the luxury buyer profile.

  • Read magazines. Yachting. Car & Driver. Luxury Home Magazines. Jet Set Magazine. (Find them in your library.)
  • Read books about wealth or famous people.
  • Learn about how they acquired their wealth.

Develop excellent manners.

  • Take a course on social manners.
  • Learn table manners. How a table should be set. What silverware to use.
  • Know what food courses are in a 7-course meal.

The rich are different. Read. Listen. Learn how they think. Why they make the choices that they do. Why some like to display their wealth while others don’t.

You don’t have to be wealthy to work with rich clients as long as you can “talk their language”.

What else would you add to this list?