American Eagle Realty's Blog
With few exceptions, a backyard shed is a resource that's going to provide you with an array of benefits for as long as you own your home.
If you're in the house-hunting mode, right now, a storage shed is a desirable feature that is usually worth including on your wish list. While many sheds are purely functional in nature, some can be used to dramatically enhance the landscaping and aesthetic appeal of your property.
In many cases, new homeowners don't realize how much they need a shed until after they've settled into a house that doesn't have one. When your tools, equipment, and supplies are easily accessible, your gardening, yardwork, and maintenance tasks will become much more convenient and less of a chore. Having an enclosed, protective structure to easily store your rakes, shovels, and hedge trimmers will also decrease the likelihood that they'll be left out in the yard and subjected to the elements of nature.
Although sheds are useful to any property owner who does their own mowing, raking, and snow removal, some homeowners find them indispensable.
- Gardeners: Whether you cultivate vegetables, flowers, or other plants on your property, you'll need a convenient and dry place to store everything from tools and fencing material to seedlings, gardening soil, fertilizer, peat moss, clay pots, and statues. A well-organized shed can also help you keep track of when supplies are low and need to be replenished.
- Swimming pool owners: When you consider the daily and weekly tasks that are involved in maintaining a swimming pool, it makes sense to have a dedicated space for safely storing and organizing equipment, pool chemicals, extra patio furniture, and even floatation devices. If you leave these items outside they tend to get dirty, damaged, or even stolen. Securing and storing pool chemicals away from children and pets is also a major safety consideration.
- Most other property owners: As long as you have grass that needs to be mowed regularly, bushes that require trimming, and deciduous trees that shed their leaves in the fall, yard maintenance is an inescapable aspect of home ownership. For those who live in snow-prone areas of the country, keeping shovels, bags of rock salt, and possibly a snow blower on hand are often considered necessary elements of winter survival. While some people try to cram all those items into their garage, having a separate storage building on the premises can make life a lot more organized and less cluttered.
Although location is one of the most important factors that will impact the marketability of your home, it's not the only thing prospective buyers are thinking about.
If they're organized, focused, and serious about finding the right property for their needs, they've probably developed a detailed checklist of "must haves" and a "wish list."
In all likelihood, those who are working with a real estate agent are being shown properties that conform to their requirements and many of their wish-list items. A comprehensive list would include everything from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want to square footage and the quality of the school district.
Many people also have specific preferences about features like floor plans, amount of storage space, the size of the backyard, architectural style, and the availability of a fireplace, patio, porch, deck, eat-in kitchen, two-car garage, and privacy features. Some are even looking for the traditional white picket fence in front of the house!
While your home can't be "all things to all people," it is highly recommended to target the widest possible audience. Your agent, a home staging consultant, or a home decorator can provide you with valuable tips on how to achieve that outcome.
Stand Out and Get Noticed
Just looking good on paper, though, is not always enough to attract motivated buyers. Prospects need to love what they see and be inspired to envision themselves living in your house. Doing what you can to create irresistible curb appeal is one vital aspect of making a great first impression. A manicured lawn, a fresh coat of paint (if needed), and some strategic home staging -- inside and out -- can make all the difference in your results!
Curb appeal is vitally important because that sets the stage, so to speak, for creating high expectations in your prospects. Once you get them in a positive frame of mind, they'll be more inclined to notice all the positive aspects of your home. If your house meets all or most of their requirements and is arranged in a way that's pleasing to them, a purchase offer and negotiations may be right around the corner.
One of the most crucial hurdles to clear in getting prospects to consider buying your house is to help them imagine living, relaxing, raising a family, and pursuing their interests in your home. Your real estate agent can help you effectively stage the interior and exterior of your home to make it inviting and appealing to the widest range of potential buyers.
You can support their sales and marketing efforts by making sure your home is always clean, fresh smelling, and ready to be shown at a moment's notice to house hunters. Doing your best to eliminate clutter, keeping counter tops neat, and making sure pets are on their best behavior (or happily frolicking at the local "doggie daycare" center) can play a key role in winning over interested buyers and successfully selling your home!
If you’re buying or selling a home for the first time you’ll likely come across several terms and acronyms you’ve never heard before. When working with a real estate agent, he or she will likely do their best to put things in simplest terms for you to understand. But, it never hurts to do your research ahead of time so you’re prepared for the lengthy and complex process of buying or selling a home.
In this article, we’ll define some of the real estate terms you’re most likely to read or hear during your search for a new home, or when you put your current home on the market.
Common real estate definitions
Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) - a home loan with a in interest rate which fluctuates throughout the payback term of the loan. The fluctuation typically aligns with changes in the housing market’s average interest rates.
Fixed rate mortgage (FRM) - Fixed rate mortgages have an interest rate that does not change for a predetermined period of time or for the entire length of the home loan repayment period.
Closing costs - Miscellaneous fees associated with buying a home. These include attorney fees, applications fees, taxes (property taxes, transfer taxes), underwriting costs, and more.
Transfer tax - A tax charged for when a property changes ownership. These vary by state. Some states do not have a transfer tax.
Appreciation and depreciation - Appreciation is an increase in a property value due to things like inflation. Depreciation is a decrease in property value due to market deflation, wear and tear on the property, etc.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) - A U.S. law that makes it illegal for a creditor to discriminate on the basis of the following: national origin, race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, or to the applicant’s status as receiving public assistance from things like food stamps and social security.
Mortgage escrow - an escrow is a neutral, third party agent or company which holds documents or funds until certain terms and conditions are met and a contract is fulfilled or terminated. For mortgages, lenders will often set up an escrow to pay insurance premiums and property taxes. These are typically added to your monthly mortgage bill.
Homeowners association (HOA) - a group of homeowners who regulate, maintain, and manage common spaces in subdivisions and condominiums. Monthly dues are typically required to upkeep common spaces. An HOA board made up of homeowners meets to vote on rules and regulations that members of the HOA must abide by.
Private mortgage insurance - a type of insurance that protects a lender if a borrower defaults on their home loan.
Exclusive agency listing - an agreement between a homeowner and a real estate broker giving the broker exclusive rights to list the home.
Assumable mortgage - a home loan that enables a buyer to take over the seller’s mortgage payments and loan terms.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) - A U.S. law which promotes privacy, fairness, and accuracy in reporting your credit score to lenders. This lets you correct inaccuracies and prevent certain information from being used against you when applying for a loan.
Whether you're 25 or 65, one thing's for sure: Home ownership, raising a family, and having enough money to retire comfortably takes a lot of money! Surprisingly, a high percentage of people of all ages have not accumulated a sufficient nest egg for their future needs.
What many homeowners (and aspiring homeowners) don't stop to realize is that there are many opportunities to save money, reduce expenses, and keep more of your hard-earned cash where it belongs: in your pocket, bank account, or retirement plan. While it may seem like your money flies out the window as fast as you can earn it, you may be overlooking some key strategies for holding on to more of it. One of the most powerful tactics for saving and making more money is learning how to negotiate effectively.
Practicing the Art of Negotiation
Virtually "everything is negotiable," especially in real estate transactions. Fortunately, you can rely on a good real estate agent to look out for your interests and get you the best deal. However, it is generally to your advantage to have a basic understanding of negotiating principles and the possibility of winning concessions from the other side.
Perhaps the number one thing to keep in mind when attending an open house or touring a home you're considering buying is to choose your words carefully -- particularly if you're in the presence of the seller's agent or the home seller, themselves (Note: If you're just viewing the house with your buyers' agent, you don't have to worry about weighing your words or being too effusive.) As an example, if you blurt out "This house is absolutely perfect!" or "This is exactly what we're looking for!" then you're putting yourself at a strategic disadvantage when it comes to making an offer on the house. It pays to "play things close to the vest." That expression, of course, originated from the game of poker, in which it's a tactical error to let your opponents see your cards.
There are dozens of situations in life where negotiating skills can help you gain hundreds, if not thousands of additional dollars from a transaction. Examples range from negotiating a raise or a starting salary to buying or selling real estate or automobiles. By developing your negotiating skills and practicing them at every opportunity, you'll find yourself gaining financial and other advantages that wouldn't otherwise be available to you. As the poem "My Wage" by Jessie B. Rittenhouse reminds us, if we bargain with life for pennies, then that's exactly what we'll get in return.
By negotiating the best possible deal in real estate transactions, automobile purchases, home improvement contracts, employment opportunities, credit card interest rates, and dozens of other situations, you can build up a larger retirement nest egg, help your kids pay for college, and achieve a greater measure of financial security.
One aspect of house hunting that some prospective home buyers overlook is security. Perhaps it's because they're looking at homes in "nice neighborhoods, where you shouldn't have to worry about that sort of thing happening." Maybe another reason they're paying little or no attention to security issues is that they're more preoccupied with the layout of the kitchen, the size of the backyard, and the condition of the master bathroom.
Even though there are dozens of details to compare and think about when you're house hunting, security features are important enough to include in your checklist. By letting your real estate agent know that home security is a high priority for you, they'll hopefully point out security features that they notice and perhaps ask the listing agent for any additional information on things like installed alarms systems, deadbolt locks, or security lighting on the property.
As a side note, if the present owner has recently installed an extensive security system in the house, you can also use that as an opportunity (excuse) to inquire about crime in the neighborhood and whether there have been any recent incidents in the area. Additional research may need to be done to ferret out that information.
As you check out different houses that your buyers' agent shows you, here are a few security-related checkpoints to keep in mind:
- Do the doors look solid and are they secured by deadbolt locks?
- Do first-floor windows have functional and securely locking mechanisms?
- Are there any outside floodlights, lamp posts, and/or other forms of illumination around the house?
- Are there any overgrown bushes next to the house that could conceal a burglar's attempt to enter the house through a window?
- Are there any fences on the premises that might discourage a burglar from entering the property?
- Do the main entrances have locking storm doors that provide an extra layer of security?
- Are there any other security vulnerabilities that you or your real estate agent think need addressing, either now or in the immediate future?
When you do find the ultimate house for you and your family, it's always a good idea to change the locks on all external doors as soon as possible. You never know how many duplicate keys have been circulated over the years to contractors, neighbors, cleaning people, pet sitters, house sitters, and family members. One way to take control of your new home's security situation is to make sure there are no extra house keys floating around in the hands of people you don't know.