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Mon, 20 Oct 2014

Now is the time to prepare your home for the winter cold. The Old Farmer’s Almanac was right on with its forecast for our area last year and is predicting a cold and drier than normal winter for us this year. After last year’s ice storms, drier sounds good, but even still, snow is in…

Mon, 13 Oct 2014

Fall can be a great time to sell your home. If you have just received notice that you will need to move during the fall or if your house didn’t sell during the summer, you need not despair. Lots of people are just like you and have gotten notices to move. While you may be…

Mon, 06 Oct 2014

Choosing a real estate agent to sell a home is an important decision. With the recent economic downturn still on most people’s minds, many people are tempted to forego using a realtor altogether. However, the right agent can net more income from the sale of your property and can sell it quicker. While realtors have…

Mon, 29 Sep 2014

This week is Mortgage Week at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Executive Partners. We are proud to present Sean Collett, President of Mortgage First Augusta, who shares some important information about the mortgage process. The mortgage process can seem formidable, but it’s really not that complicated. One reason it seems complicated is that the…

Mon, 22 Sep 2014

This week, our blog features home-staging advice from Penny Bergstrom, a professional home stager who also provides interior design, remodeling and photography services through her business Delicious Decors. Penny provides services to homeowners and developers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Malibu and Los Angeles, Ca. Penny is well-known for her inviting, livable clean designs…

 
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Mon, 20 Oct 2014

Five Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Now is the time to prepare your homPrepare for wintere for the winter cold. The Old Farmer’s Almanac was right on with its forecast for our area last year and is predicting a cold and drier than normal winter for us this year. After last year’s ice storms, drier sounds good, but even still, snow is in the forecast for three occasions in January and February. As we saw, all it takes is one ice storm to wreak havoc with trees and power lines.

Prepare for winter now while the weather is still warm. You have more time to do it right, and the supplies you need are in stock now. You also have more hours of daylight now than you will have in December or January to get the job done. Why wait until the frigid winds of January are howling to wrap those pipes.

1. Take precautions with outside water sources. Evaluate how you will use water outside this winter. If you won’t be using those water hoses, bring them in the garage. Even if they are drained of water, exposure to sunlight and temperature extremes will cause them to deteriorate faster.

Wrap any exposed pipes and cover outdoor faucets. If you have just a faucet outside a crawl space wall, an easy way to cover it is to wrap the faucet with a plastic grocery bag and slide a Koozie over it. The thick foam ones work best. Plus, if you need access to the faucet, you can easily access it and replace the covering.

2. Keep the gutters cleared of pine straw and leaves. Wet leaves and pine straw add weight to the gutters and block the flow of water. The weight can cause the gutters to pull away from your house. Also, if the water backs up severely, it may run under your shingles and cause leaks and water damage.

3. Have your heating system inspected and cleaned before you need it. Coils should be cleaned and debris removed on a regular basis. Having it tuned up now will guarantee that it will work when you need it.

4. Have a generator installed now. If the ice storms of last year left you without power for several days, you may want to check into installing a generator. Home supply stores have them in stock and can arrange to have them installed and ready to go if the power goes out.

5. Get your chimney checked. Before you light that first fire in your chimney this year, call the chimney sweep and get a thorough cleaning and inspection. During the summer, birds or other critters could have found entry and built nests that will ignite from the heat of the fire. A chimney fire can be very dangerous. Also, the chimney structure itself needs inspecting to make sure there are no cracks to let sparks through to wood and other flammable materials in your walls.

Keep your family warm this winter by making preparations now. Waiting until Ole Man Winter arrives is not a good idea.


Tagged: Augusta Georgia, columbia county, CSRA, gutters, Home Maintenance, Winter
Mon, 13 Oct 2014

Realtor Tips for Selling Your Home in the Fall

Fall can be a great time to sell your home. If you haveTips for Selling a Home in Fall just received notice that you will need to move during the fall or if your house didn’t sell during the summer, you need not despair.

Lots of people are just like you and have gotten notices to move. While you may be leaving our area, someone else will be arriving. Also, many local people have their eyes out for just the right house, so if your house meets their needs, they will make the move, especially if their children don’t have to change schools.

Also, many people without children prefer to move in the fall. The weather is cooler and often drier, making the difficult task of moving more pleasant. Moving companies, attorneys, and everyone else involved with real estate slow down a little in the fall. The home search is not as frantic because you have fewer people competing with you for homes.

This week, we are featuring advice about fall sales from three of our realtors.

Debbie Franco – Realtor (706) 495-7181

“With the fall season comes leaves and lots of them. ?When selling a home in the fall, make sure you rake up or mow up your leaves. A well-manicured yard says lots about the house and the owner. ?Cleaning up your flowerbeds of leaves and weeds is also important; add a top layer of pine straw or wood mulch to freshen up your flowerbeds. A nice fall staging tip is a pumpkin on the porch and/or fall wreath on the front door.”

Kathie Malarkey (706) 840-1693

“Keep the lawn mowed of dead leaves and have plenty of chrysanthemums around the yard”!

Cindy Smith (706) 364-7653

“The fall is the perfect time for home sellers to make their homes feel warm and inviting! Start with one the most important parts ? your front entry.? So many of us just come and go from or to our car, using the garage door.? It is easy to forget about keeping the front porch clean and free from cobwebs and spiders and wasp nests! They are especially bad at this time of year.

Check the porch and walkway once a week to be sure it is clean.? Make?any repairs necessary to the porch, door, lights, walkway, and front beds to give all a well-maintained look.? This is the first impression the buyer gets about?the house, and it sets the tone for how they feel about it from the beginning of the house showing!

Take advantage of this season by adding warm, welcoming fall decor.? Wreaths, flowers?and/or pumpkin arrangements on the steps or porch will begin the ambience! If you are going to include Halloween items, keep it simple and whimsical, and nothing that blocks the entry like cobweb material with things hanging from it.? It is really best, when your house is on the market, to just limit the Halloween items to being up only a few days before and during that date.

Just let all the warmth of the other fall and Thanksgiving decor items?create the ambience for your home. You want that entry to look inviting, warm and welcoming”!

Fall is a time when we spend so much time in our homes. The kids are back in school, so everyone is back to a routine. If you’re selling your house this fall, you can really show off your home’s best qualities using seasonal decor.

If you’re looking for fall decor inspiration, we have a couple of Pinterest Boards that can help you with ideas. Just as in every other season, remember to keep decorations tasteful and don’t overdo it. Not everyone wants to see a Halloween graveyard on the front lawn.

We have a Fall Porches and Doors Board and a Fall Interior Decor Board to help you with inside and outside the house. We have separate Halloween Boards, one Scary and another Not So Scary. After all, if a couple is viewing a home with a child in tow, you don’t want to send the child screaming to the car because your home’s first impression is a terrifying crime scene or haunted house.

Fall can be a great time to sell your home. Ask your realtor for tips for selling your home regardless of the season. Realtors know what’s selling and what’s not, so don’t be afraid to ask.

 


Tagged: Augusta Georgia, Augusta Real Estate, Autumn, better homes and gardens real estate, columbia county, CSRA, Fall, Realtor Tips
Mon, 06 Oct 2014

Choosing a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Choosing a real estate agentChoosing a real estate agent to sell a home is an important decision. With the recent economic downturn still on most people’s minds, many people are tempted to forego using a realtor altogether. However, the right agent can net more income from the sale of your property and can sell it quicker.

While realtors have customers knocking on their doors to be shown homes, lone sellers have to redouble their efforts to publicize their home’s availability. Also, homeowners have to be available at various times for showing the home. Then, there is time wasted on the lookie-loos, people who may be looking for homes beyond their budget or who are hoping to lowball you on price. Probably the worst experience could be a legal entanglement over a technicality that a realtor is trained to avoid.

While the commission from the sale of a home seems like a large expense, you are actually paying for years of experience. The usual amount of commission for a realtor is six percent ($6,000 on a $100,000 home), to be split equally between the listing agent and the selling agent.

For a budget-conscious consumer, $6,000 is a lot of money, especially when so many of us are counting pennies. Because of this, many people choose to go the For-Sale-By-Owner route to keep more of their hard-earned cash. Going it alone can be an option if you have lots of experience with home sales. However for the average consumer, going it alone can be quite risky and should be avoided.

So, how do you find a compatible real estate agent? Well, you could start with the person who sold you the home in the first place. If you liked that person, your search is over, but if you had rather not go back with that realtor, ask your friends who have recently sold homes in your area. Or, you could contact an agency with a Relocation Specialist who knows the agents and can suggest a few agents for you to interview.

Ideally, you should interview a few real estate agents because you are hiring the agent to sell your home. Most people don’t think of their relationship with a realtor in those terms, but that is really what it is. The realtor works for you to sell your home and looks out for your best interest during and even after the sale.

Another thing you also want to consider is where the agent sells the most homes. Sure, anyone can pull the prices of comparable sales in the area, but an agent that actively works your area knows the houses in the area and how your house compares to them. With that knowledge, an agent can best advise you on asking price and help you with negotiating when the time comes.

Also, a real estate agent needs to be very familiar with your neighborhood and the benefits of living there. A knowledgeable agent knows more about the area than just what’s contained in the description and can answer any question a seller might ask: Where’s the nearest grocery store? The best gym? What are the people like who live here? Do they get together for community celebrations or block parties? You can also fill your agent in on some of the nuances you have observed and enjoyed while living there.

One of the most important details is the agency with which the realtor is affiliated. Choose an agency with an excellent reputation. Check to see if it has won any national or international awards from realty associations. Recognition from organizations that evaluate agencies is a great indication that the agency places great emphasis on customer service and satisfaction.

Probably one of the most important considerations is how your property will be advertised. Since research has determined that the majority of people start a real estate search on social media, you should check to see if your potential agents have a real estate business page on major social media networks. The agency should have an active social media presence, as well. Check to see if these social media sites are regularly updated, or if it has been weeks or even months since the last posting. An agency with an active social media presence is keeping up with the latest developments in marketing and will provide the greatest exposure for your property.

A knowledgeable agent can save you time and speed the sale of your property. Also, the agent has the experience to prevent you from many of the pitfalls of selling a home. Choosing a real estate agent to sell your home is the first move you should make when it comes time to sell your home.

 

 


Tagged: Augusta Georgia, Augusta Real Estate, Broker, CSRA, Real estate agent, realtor
Mon, 29 Sep 2014

Mortgage Advice: The Benefits of Pre-Approval

image001(1)This week is Mortgage Week at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Executive Partners. We are proud to present Sean Collett, President of Mortgage First Augusta, who shares some important information about the mortgage process.

The mortgage process can seem formidable, but it’s really not that complicated. One reason it seems complicated is that the terminology used in mortgage lending is often confusing. The terms “pre-qualification” and “pre-approval” sound like the same thing, but they’re not. Which one do you really need as you begin house shopping

Pre-Approval Loans

This is a more in-depth (and more useful) version of pre-qualification. When you request pre-approval for a mortgage loan, the lender will actually start to verify your financial background. This is what sets it apart from pre-qualification. Lenders will request a variety of documents from you, such as tax records and bank statements. They will also check your credit score. The pre-approval process gives you a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow.

Approved Loans

This is the final approval by the lender. It takes place after you have chosen a home and made an offer. In order to reach this stage, you would need to give your mortgage company a copy of the purchase agreement. You’ll also go through an extensive underwriting process that could take up to 30 days. The lender will probably require a home appraisal, as well.

Benefits of Pre-Approval

Before looking for houses, home buyers should get pre-approved for mortgage loans (unless they’re paying cash for the house). You could spend days or weeks looking at houses in a certain price range, only to find out that you qualify for a lesser amount. When you start with the pre-approval, you’ll have a pretty good idea what you can afford.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you identify any problems you have (too much debt, a low credit score, etc.). The sooner you find out about these issues, the more time you have to correct them.

Additionally, sellers will take you seriously. This is especially important in an active market where multiple offers are a reality.

Pre-approval also helps you narrow the field when house hunting. Once you know how much the lender is willing to offer, you can shop within that price range.

Items Needed for Pre-Approval

 

  • Most recent year-to-date pay stub
  • Most recent W2’s
  • Most recent 30-day bank statement
  • Last 2 years tax returns

 

As you can see, this process helps you in several ways. No, it’s not a commitment from the lender. You can’t get that until you’ve actually found a house. But, it’s the next best thing. It gives you a price range for what you can afford when the time comes.

 

Of course, there is more to know about mortgages, but this is often a point of confusion for home buyers. If you’re in the market for a home, you should speak with a mortgage lender as soon as possible. Every situation is unique, but a home mortgage is not as difficult to get as many people may think.

 


Tagged: Augusta Georgia, CSRA, Mortgage loan, Pre-Approval, Pre-qualify
Mon, 22 Sep 2014

Home-staging Tips with Penny Bergstrom of Delicious Decors

This week, our blog features home-staging advice from Penny Bergstrom, a professional home stager who also provides interior design, remodeling and photography services through her business Delicious Decors. Penny provides services to homeowners and developers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Malibu and Los Angeles, Ca.

Penny is well-known for her inviting, livable clean designs with just the right pop of color.

Penny’s Tips:

  1. Hire a professional home stager. For a very small fee, a home-staging consultation is worth its weight in gold. The home stager will walk through your home with you and make recommendations for you to implement yourself. A fresh set of eyes from a professional may be all you need to get your home market ready.
  1. Declutter. Take a walk through your home and remove everything that doesn’t have a purpose. Once you have done that, do a second walk through and remove one more time.
  1. De-personalize. Remove all personal photos, chachkies from vacations, gifts, etc. Folks need to be able to visualize themselves living in the home, not you.
  1. Paint. The least expensive way to freshen up a room is a coat of paint. Stick with neutrals, but that doesn’t mean white. Soft tans with white trim are very popular for wall color.
  1. Re-think furniture arrangement. The way we live and the way we show a home may be two very different things. Arrange furniture in a fashion that keeps the room open, flows easily and makes the space look larger. We may want our “extra seating” for practical matters while living in the home, but often some of this furniture should be removed for showing off the property.

For example, look at the two pictures below. They are pictures of the same room used for different purposes. In the picture on the left, the family had converted the family room into a dining room. In the picture on the right, we reclaimed the original purpose of the room for staging purposes.

Family Room Before

Family Room Before

Family Room After

Family Room After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Wall art is extremely important. Once you have decluttered, de-personalized and perhaps re-arranged furniture, remove all art and start over. Re-hang only neutral art (no religious art, “extreme” art, etc.). Strategically replace your art one piece at a time thinking about scale to the area, color and reflection in the case of mirrors.
  1. Bedding is 80 percent of the bedroom since it is the most visual piece in a bedroom. Purchase new bedding for each bed. New bedding will update the room and freshen the look. The same goes for decorative pillows on sofas and chairs throughout the home.

According to Penny, staged homes sell up to 80 percent faster than non-staged homes. Staged homes also sell, on average, for 10-15 percent more than non-staged homes.

Even if your budget doesn’t allow for the full services of a professional home stager, you can benefit from a low-cost consultation. A little money spent well before your home hits the market can result in a faster sale and net more income from your home.

Over time, we often don’t notice problem areas or clutter in our homes as much as prospective homebuyers who have never been to our homes will notice. Your goal is to make prospective homebuyers feel at home in your home, even before they move in. A beautifully staged home invites potential homebuyers to linger and to dream a little.

Here’s another example of the difference that can be made through staging. We took down heavy draperies and added more lamps for better lighting. We also swapped out dark furniture for lighter furniture and grouped the furniture to promote a better flow in the room.

Living Room Before

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penny has many before and after photos on her website, Facebook page and YouTube channel for idea mining. You’ll be amazed at the difference a few details can make.

Thanks, Penny!

 

 


Tagged: Augusta Georgia, De-personalize, declutter, furniture, home decor, Home staging, marketing