Real Estate

10 Home Chores To Do Annually

homechoresblog

Sing me some graces, there is such a thing as over-cleaning! Here are ten chores around the home that you really only need to do annually, minus special circumstances. Let’s dive in!

1. Curtains & Drapes

Unfortunately, we don’t mean the dusting part. You’ll want to dust at least once a month, but when it actually comes time to getting them cleaned, you only really need to do that once a year. You can take them in to get dry cleaned or follow the instructions on their tags if you choose to wash them at home.

2. House Gutters

Gutter guards can be a great investment, especially if you live around trees that shed all year long. These can keep your gutter cleanings minimal, generally about once per year. You’ll want to do this in the autumn when all of the leaves from the trees have already fallen.

3. Fireplace & Chimney

After the winter, you’ll want to give your fireplace a thorough cleaning. You can use a shop vacuum to clean up the embers. Make sure to wash down the fireplace tools as well. Go an extra step further and schedule an appointment with a chimney sweeper.

4. Carpets

We wish we meant vacuuming, but that’s pretty much a weekly or biweekly task for most households. In this case, we mean a deep clean. The best time to get this taken care of is right after summer.

5. Outdoor Furniture

The best time to clean outdoor furniture is when you bring them out of storage for Spring. Of course, if messes up happen while you’re using them, you want to clean the spots right away, so you avoid an accumulation of stains in a short period.

6. Mattress

Mattresses have improved through the years but they still need a little bit of attention. At least once a year, give your mattress a thorough cleaning and change the position of it.

7. Kitchen Cabinets & Pantry

Early November is a great time to clean out kitchen cabinets, drawers, and the food pantry to get them ready for the holidays. Do a section of cabinets at a time and empty them out completely. Wipe down the shelves and reline with shelf paper if needed.

8. Linen Closet

Just once a year, empty out your linen closet and give it a thorough cleaning. Take time to vacuum away dust and spiderwebs and reline any shelves.

9. Garage, Basement, & Attic

No one is expecting you to have a perfect garage, basement, or attic. However, a good cleaning at least once a year can help you keep an eye on things, such as moisture or insect problems. It can also feel good to get rid of junk that tends to accumulate in these hidden spaces.

If you’re in the market to sell your home, you can always give me a call, and I’ll refer over some preferred vendors that can help you knock out your cleaning tasks.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
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Real Estate

Avoid The Wrong Real Estate Agent

june blog

In what will likely be the biggest investment you make in your life, buying a home needs the attention and assistance a professional real estate agent can provide. But not just any real estate agent, it’s important to find the “right” one. With the ease of being able to land a license, you want to make sure you’re hiring an agent who has the experience and drive to ensure you’re provided the tools and skills to walk away from a closing knowing your needs were met. Let’s jump into issues you can face if you don’t have the right agent on your team.

1. THE “WRONG” AGENT WON’T LISTEN.

It’s important to find a real estate agent that sits down with you and actually listens to your needs. What type of home do you want? Where do you want to live? Does the commute to school or work have to be a certain distance? Etc. Working with an agent that doesn’t take the time to listen to your real estate needs will end up wasting your time and sending you homes to look at that don’t match your needs. Sit down with an agent that wants to get to know your needs and wants to help you achieve your goal of buying your dream house.

 

2. YOU’LL GET TERRIBLE ADVICE.

Choosing the wrong agent means you’ll find yourself in situations with terrible advice. Make sure you choose an agent that is able to give you the proper direction when it comes to the whole sales process. From negotiations, to repairs, you want to ensure you choose a trusted adviser that can guide you on the right path.

 

3. THEY WON’T NEGOTIATE THE BEST DEAL FOR YOU

A great agent will negotiate for you to get an amazing deal. Now this isn’t to equate to unrealistic negotiation expectations of what the market will sell a home for – because that can mean losing your dream house. But the “wrong” agent won’t bother to negotiate on any part of the sales process. You want to find an agent that not only negotiates for you, but does it in an effective way and advises you on the best steps to take, to ensure you still get the right home.

 

4. DIFFICULT TO GET IN TOUCH WITH

A great agent has a set and active schedule that allows you to get in touch with them, or a member of their team, on a reasonable time frame. The “wrong” agent will be difficult to get a hold of, even not getting back to you during the sales process for days (sometimes even weeks.) To find a great agent, you want to find one that has dedicated business hours that allow you to get in touch with them at anytime during those hours, and is available to call you back if they miss your call, in a timely manner. This is incredibly important during the sales process, if something needs immediate attention, and your agent is nowhere to be found, you can lose the deal.

 

5. CAN LEAD TO A LEGAL MESS

The “wrong” agent can be unethical, or simply not have the proper knowledge about the legalities within the industry that is standard for agents to follow through on. As a professional, in an industry with a lot of accompanying laws, it’s a great agent’s job to know how to protect you throughout the sales process. While providing the necessary contracts and guidance to ensure you’re protected by the decisions you make as well.

 

6. AN UNHAPPY BUYING EXPERIENCE

Buying a home is an important and big process in a person’s life. If you’re buying your first home, or you’re purchasing your dream home, you don’t want the experience to be traumatizing. A great agent will be able to navigate the bumps that come up within the sales process in an experienced and professional manner. The “wrong” agent will create a mess of the sales process, not find you the right home, and you can end up with a home you don’t actually love – or one with too many issues. Find a great agent that knows the process and can ensure it goes as smoothly as possible, giving you the time to prepare for common situations that may cause delays. Although some things can occur that neither party is aware of, having an experienced agent will help you through general hurdles that could arise through the sale.

You need the right agent to find you the right home.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

It’s because of the price

may blog 3

Are you getting frustrated that your home hasn’t already sold? Has it been sitting on the market with little to no showings, while houses nearby are going under contract almost immediately? We’re here to tell you, the solution is simple: lower the price! I know, I know, you probably already heard this from your agent and thought that it was worth the price you wanted. But the truth of the matter is, the market is hot. It’s at the hottest point it has been in a long time, and if your home isn’t selling in today’s market, and your agent is working their butt off to market it, then the price is too high.

Who doesn’t want to sell what they own, and cherish, for the most they can get? And your agent wants to sell your home for top dollar as well! But if you still haven’t received an offer in such a strong seller’s market, it’s time to sit down with your agent, reevaluate your motivation to sell, and talk about a new price. Do you have goals when it comes to moving? A new house, a new state? That’s awesome! So if you want to move forward with your life, cut out the stress of slowing down your sale, and make the best decision to ensure your home can get under contract. And keep in mind, there is a highly likely chance, that by pricing lower than market value, you can anticipate a bidding frenzy that can get you even more than you anticipated. Supply and demand, it works wonders when you let your agent play the numbers to get buyers in a frenzy for your home. Drop it down to what your trusted agent recommends, and you’ll be putting your best foot forward in your market.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

Spark A Bidding War

may blog 2.jpg

Ready to make a move? Have a certain figure in mind that you need to sell for? Depending on your market, you might be able to get a little more than what you may be needing. Go over with your agent if setting a bidding war is smart for the sale of your home, and if they give the green light, here are a few things to consider to help get your sales price over asking after starting a bidding competition.

 

1. ATTRACT MORE BUYERS

When there isn’t much interest in a property, buyer’s get nervous and suspicious that there may be something wrong with the home that they may be missing, and that could sometimes be further from the truth. You want to price your home competitively to entice more showings. When you price your home right under the market standard, it leads to more showings, more appointments, and more excitement around your home.

 

2. PRICE IT TO MOVE IT

You want to make sure your price gets buyers interested in your property. Even if they end up paying more than asking, the excitement from feeling like they are getting a deal and landing your home sets the right mood for buyers to WANT your property. Always price the home in a way that is going to appeal to a large audience. Pricing a home at $399,900 can generally generate more foot traffic than one listed at $400,000. Advertising a home for sale that is listed for slightly under the market value can garner a lot of interest, which can lead to the home selling for more than what the seller originally wanted.

 

3. START UP THE BUZZ

Make sure you work with an agent that has the ability to start up a coming soon buzz around your home. You want to let the market know that your home is going to be coming soon, and start up conversation and interest. This gives time for word about your home to spread to get more foot traffic and competition on your house.

 

4. STAGING IS KEY

It’s without question that to get over market value for your home, it has to be in tip-top condition. Discuss with your agent the importance of having your home professionally cleaned and stage to attract more buyers. Starting up a buzz won’t lead to much if buyers walk into your home and turned off by orders, unappealing lighting, or rooms that are not properly staged. You want to allow buyers and opportunity to see your home in the best light the first time they walk through your door.

 

5. CREATE A DEADLINE

Have your agent set a deadline for offers, say a Monday or Tuesday, right after a weekend of doing open houses. This can generate a sense of urgency around your home, letting buyers think there is a large amount of interest and to get offers in quickly. Setting them up with this state of urgency generally makes them want to put their best foot forward with their first offer.

6. SWEETEN THE DEAL

To generate a little more excitement and foot traffic, you can offer an incentive for whomever purchases the home, or set a fun giveaway during an open house. Some people have given away cars, tickets to a major event – like the Super Bowl, given away vacation tickets, etc. Doing an out-of-the-box giveaway helps to generate organic buzz around your home. Some giveaways have even landed seller’s homes in the local news. More buzz means more potential buyers, which means a potential opportunity for a bidding war to get you a better sales price.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

Mistakes To Avoid On Your First Buy/Sell

may blog

If this the first time you’re considering buying a home, or selling your first purchase, there are a lot of possible challenges you can end up facing. Having the right agent can ensure you’re able to get through these challenges, but since some of the issues are universal, let’s review some mistakes you want to avoid making.

1. THE RIGHT PRICE

Pricing a property is a science of it’s own. There are a lot of components and factors, so many small details, that ultimately lead to the value of a home. Although there are a lot of sites with estimates, namely Zillow, the technology uses on online sites to determine property values are simply not accurate. Zillow even states that their numbers can be inaccurate up to a whopping 20%. Without a background as a real estate professional, it’s virtually impossible for a consumer to be able to know the proper components needed to price a home. When you’re purchasing a home, you’re want to find a deal, can lead to stubbornness about what you’re willing to pay and what you think a home is worth. But what you WANT it to be worth is the complete opposite of what it should sell for. If you’re a first time seller, you may want to sell your home for as much as you can squeeze out of it, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately lead to an overpriced home that never sells. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what a home’s value should be. Instead, partner with a real estate agent that truly is working for your best interest, and let them provide you the tools to support home values, so you can place an offer, or price your home, at a number that makes sense.

2. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE

If you go into a sale, or purchase, refusing to make negotiations, hard-set on what you want without exception, you’re more than likely going to cause a lot of grief and stress for yourself during the sales process. When you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you have to have an open mind about negotiations. They are a common practice within the industry, with buyers wanting to spend less and sellers wanting to net more. If neither party is willing to make negotiations, you’ll find yourself in a contract time and time again, only to fall apart before you can finally close on the home. Having a great agent will help you ensure you make negotiations that are reasonable to lead both parties to the closing table, without compromising you.

3. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Although we all have an idea in our mind what our dream home should be, sometimes the market, and your budget, don’t fit realistically into check marking everything off of your list. Find an agent that helps you look for the most important needs in your dream house, but keep an open mind to a home that fits most of your needs, but not necessarily all of them. Having too many expectations within a home can become stressful and result in never finding a home that really matches your needs. If a home has the major components you are seeking, get creative and see if the other things you want can be added down the road. Have a certain number of non-negotiable items, like bedroom/bathroom count, but then have a list of “wants.”

4. YOU’RE NOT ALONE, DON’T GO IT ALONE

Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle the sales process all on your own. There is a reason that the real estate profession, and the laws around it, are as strong as ever. Real estate agents are a necessity during the sales process to ensure the right steps are taken to get a home sold. Buying and selling is a difficult process that requires knowledge and expertise that comes from a professional within the industry. From legal terms, to finding homes that aren’t even listed on the market, there are a lot of ins and outs un-experienced buyers and sellers may not think about, which can lead to losing value on your home or never finding the right one. Avoid the stress of “learning the hard way” and find a professional that can give you the guidance you need to get the task at hand completed and ensure you’re happy with the outcome.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

Why You Need To Sell This Summer

blog april

The market is hot, hot, hot! With interest rates at an all time low for buyers, the market has turned into a feeding frenzy, and home sales are skyrocketing in prices. In such a high demand, seller’s market, homes are selling for record breaking prices, which means more money in your pocket. If you have been considering selling your home, doing so in today’s market will bring you a larger sales price. Don’t wait for the market to shift when interest rates begin to start going up again. The National Association of Realtors has gathered data to predict a strong 6 months of sales throughout the United States. And with such a large group of buyers hunting for homes during the summer months, you have a great potential to sell your home quickly, and move on to bigger and better things sooner.

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This is also a great buying opportunity if you are wanting to transition into a new home. Low interest rates equate to more savings. You could potentially end up getting a bigger home for the same monthly payment cost when you buy your next property. And with such a hot market, there are more homes for sale, which means you can find the right one.

If you have not already spoken with an agent, get in touch with one to get a complimentary CMA. See if the numbers work out for you and/or your family, and if moving is something you want to do. Whether you are re-sizing, or moving to a different state, your agent can get the numbers in order to make sure it’s in your best interest to transition in today’s market. Don’t wait and lose tens of thousands of dollars in your sale price!

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

What is CodeNext? Postcards are coming!

What is CodeNEXT exactly and how will it affect me? That is a question you may be asking as every property owner in Austin will receive a postcard from the City of Austin with basic information about CodeNEXT and a list of scheduled hearings for public comment. This information is provided by ABOR.

CodeNEXT, as you’ve likely heard, is the City of Austin’s revision to its land development code, which determines what can be built, where, and how much. CodeNEXT is Austin’s opportunity to shape the future of our city and provide stronger tools to address housing affordability, transportation, environmental protection, and preserve the things that make this city so unique and special.

Every property owner in Austin will receive this postcard from the City of Austin.

Every property owner in Austin will receive this postcard from the City of Austin.
Every property owner in Austin will receive this postcard from the City of Austin.

What’s the current proposal?

The current version of the proposed code, known as Draft 3, is available for review and comment online. If you are interested in how CodeNEXT could affect a particular property, you can use the City’s Zoning Comparison Tool to see how the zoning could change under Draft 3.

Under the current code draft, entitlement for most properties in core residential neighborhoods do not significantly change. The current Draft 3 proposal reduces the minimum lot size for some residentially-zoned lots and allows some attached housing options, but it doesn’t generally permit more units on a lot than what is allowed under current zoning.

How will this impact properties in Austin?

Land use issues are complicated and many of the changes are hard to decipher. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the City of Austin Planning and Zoning staff online or by phone at (512) 974-3583. I am available to you for questions any time at the contact info below or The City of Austin Planning and Zoning staff is also holding office hours, which can be booked through their website.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

From “I Do” to Sold

Idoblog

Newlyweds are saying “I do” to each other, and equate to over half of first time home buyers that are also saying “I do” to their dream homes. It makes sense! When you put two hearts together, the time comes to find a home to nourish that love. A home that brings two of your places together, and makes it one. If you and your spouse are ready to fall in love with the perfect house together, here are five tips to make sure the process goes smoothly, and you come prepared.

1. YOUR WEDDING BUDGET: Your wedding is a one-time event that shouldn’t be less than what you’d imagine. It’s a beautiful time to put all of your dream pieces together. However, it’s best to sit down and find out ways you can shift the budget to help with your down payment for a home, if you plan to purchase. The average couple spends a little over $20,000 on their wedding. Even a savings of $5000 from your wedding budget can help with owning the perfect home.

2. WEDDING GIFTS: Wedding bliss comes with wedding gifts. Let’s admit, one of our favorite times during the wedding season is all of the gifts that come pouring in! Have any friends or family pitching in cash? Save that to put towards your down payment. And depending on the generosity of your gifts, you can even open an account dedicated to your down payment, that friends and family can gift to.

3. GET PRE-APPROVED: One of the least brought up conversations in relationships is the credit and financial history of your soon-to-be spouse. Get together with a lender to go over both of your histories to know what needs to be done to put you guys in a position to own together. In some cases, only one person can get approved, while the other can’t. If you want to put both of your incomes toward the cost of the house you want, talking to a lender early on can ensure you are prepared to make the right moves.

4. THE RIGHT AGENT: That’s where I come in! For starters, I can connect you with a lender to ensure you guys are being watched over from the best recommendations. And it’s an absolute joy to take the stress out of buying a home for my newly wed couples. We all know how stressful, although joyous, a wedding can be. To then jump into buying a house shortly after, well, it’s certainly a lot to get through. But I can guide you through all of the steps to make sure you end up with a house you love. Just think of me as a wedding planner, but for homes.

5. NOW THERE’S TWO: Although some spouses are a match made in heaven, loving and adoring the same exact things, often times that’s not the case with most couples. You still are your own persons, and have your own tastes. This is where the first step to compromise really begins. Spending a good bit of money on a place you both will love and call home. A happy marriage starts with a happy home, so be sure you both are considerate of each other’s wants and needs in style and location, so you both are happy with the home you end up getting.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

Why Rent If You Can Buy?

rentvsbuyblog

Home ownership rates are the lowest they have been in the last 50 years. Yet a large portion of Americans are still renting properties, instead of enjoying a home of their own. Consumer reports believe this is an issue because of a buyer’s lack of trust in their ability to purchase. It is still a long standing notion that a buyer needs 20% towards the cost of the home in order to move forward, but this isn’t true. With countless down payment assistant programs, and closing cost roll-ins, a home owner could move in with as little as a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Which is a huge difference in the time it takes to save up to make the move.

 

With interest rates at an all time low, home ownership in today’s market is a great investment. The money saved over a mortgage’s lifespan can result in tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds. That’s more money in your pocket today. Don’t wait to buy when interest rates soar again. With low interest rates, that means your monthly mortgage payments are at a significantly lower cost, as well. With such a heated housing marketing, rental prices are soaring, and statistics are constantly showing that home ownership can be equivalent to your rental rate each month, if not less. Why get stuck in a small 2 bedroom apartment, if you can move into a home and pay a monthly rate that is the same, and get a 3 bedroom house with a great backyard?

There is also a fear that a home can keep you “stuck” or “rooted” to one place, without an easy transition out if you decide to move. Although the future of the housing market isn’t easily predictable from location to location, you can always discuss with your agent about buying a home in an area that has a strong turn-over rate when a home hits the market. The equity build up when it comes time to selling is going to be far more beneficial, than if you put money into a rental and decided to move. The money from selling the property can be used to purchase a new home. With renting, there would be no additional funds to transition into a new place.

Now imagine if you were renting a home for $2000/month. If your landlord is renting to make a profit, think how much less you’d be paying on a monthly basis towards your mortgage, if the home was yours. Then you wouldn’t be paying a landlord to profit off of you, you’d be paying a reasonable rate, and get to call the property your own. Discuss with your agent and lender the steps you need to take towards home ownership, you might be happily surprised about the type of home you can afford to move into.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com
Real Estate

10 Staging Tips To Get Your Home Sold

stagingtipsblog

Ready to sell your house? Here is a few staging tips to get your home prepared for the market. When listing a home that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, you want to make sure it’s presented in the best light. You wouldn’t buy a $50,000 dollar car if it was filled from top to bottom in someone’s personal content and trash. This is the same mindset you need to carry into selling your home that will be worth well over a $100,000.

1. SAY BYE TO CLUTTER

The best thing you can do for your home for sale is to get rid of all of your clutter! Make a rule for your home that for every new piece that comes in, one must go. One of the biggest factors to a cluttered home is too much furniture. Generally, in a professional staging, half the home owner’s furniture is removed to make the house look much bigger. Look around your house and see what you can pack away. It’ll be worth the investment to get a storage unit for a couple of months to store away a lot of your furnishings and goods.

2. FURNITURE GROUPINGS

It’s largely misconceived that furniture pushed directly up against walls make a room look bigger, but this is far from true. Instead, you’ll want to float your furniture in reach room and away from the walls. Position your sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groupings. Be sure the furnishings are placed to make the traffic flow in a room obvious. This will make the room more user-friendly and will make it look larger.

3. TRANSFORM ROOMS

If you have a room that has only served to collect boxes or other junk, it’s important to purpose the room to something that is functional. You can make it into an extra bedroom, a small cozy nook/reading room, etc. If it’s in the basement, hid the boxes and turn it into a gaming room or family area.

4. HOME LIGHTING

Great lighting is the trick to making a staged home look warm and welcome. Most homes are improperly lit, which makes rooms look dark and dreary. There is a quick fix to this issue. Increase the wattage in your fixtures and lamps, aiming for about 100 watts per 50 square feet. Add three different types of lighting to each room: ambient (general overhead), task (under cabinets or pendants), and accent lighting (table lamps and wall accents).

5. GO NEUTRAL

The simple trick to toning down dated finishing in any space is a little bit of fresh paint. You don’t want to go stark white, but look into neutral grey and beige colors. Beige colors can also consist of warm honey like colors, soft blues and greens, and a variety of undertones that add a little life to a general neutral color. If you do want to use bold colors, be sure to only keep it on accent walls to help enhance structural features.

6. MAKE IT LOOK BIGGER

If you want to make a room bigger than it is, paint the room the same color as an adjacent room. For small kitchens and dining rooms, a seamless look will make the space feel like one, open it up, and make it seem much larger. Using drapes that match the wall colors can also add an emphasis to the room’s size.

7. USE YOUR GARDEN

Staged homes have an emphasis in fresh flowers and pricey floral arrangements. If you don’t have the money to go all out on florals, you can get this same effect by raiding your garden space. You can DIY beautiful pieces with fern fronds, magnolia clippings, and more. Use the spring and summer months to find cheerful flowers and use them in your arrangements.

8. GET A FACELIFT

So you can’t afford new cabinets? Then you can just get new doors and drawer fronts. Then paint everything to match and add new hardware to them. Instead of replacing the entire dishwasher, you may be able to get a new front panel, go for stainless steel if you can pull it off. Check with the manufacturer to see if replacements are available for your model.

9.MAKE NECESSARY REPAIRS

Unfinished home projects can really scare off potential home buyers, so you’ll want to be sure to make required repairs. Missing floorboards and large cracks in the sidewalk on the way to your door tend to be a red flag. Holes in walls and scratched up door frames can really look unattractive. These repairs cost you less to fix than buyers might deduct from the asking price.

10. CLEAN YOUR HOME

Aside from de-cluttering, the most important step to staging your home is to clean it. A dirty house is a quick turn-off for potential buyers. Most homes, especially with children and pets, and smokers, have a smell that may go undetected to home owners, but are quickly picked up by strangers. Be sure to have your home professionally cleaned prior to staging to appeal to all buyers that your home is nice and fresh.

Jennifer Cote
REALTOR®
512-967-5748
Jennifer.Cote@5elementsrealtyteam.com
5elementsrealtyteam.com