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Posted by Julie Shanks on 2/16/2020

Ready to enjoy a successful homebuying experience? Ultimately, becoming a resourceful homebuyer will make it easy to transform your homeownership dream into a reality.

A resourceful homebuyer possesses the skills and know-how needed to streamline the property buying cycle. Plus, this homebuyer will be better equipped than others to maximize the time and resources at his or her disposal and speed up the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that you can use to become a resourceful homebuyer.

1. Know What You Want from a Home

You know that you'd like to own a house, but what are you looking for in your dream residence? As a resourceful homebuyer, you'll know exactly what you'd like to find in the perfect home. That way, you can narrow your home search.

Creating a checklist of dream home "must-haves" usually is a great starting point for a resourceful homebuyer. This checklist will enable you to determine what features you want in your ideal residence.

In addition, keep in mind that every house has its pros and cons. And if you set realistic homebuying expectations from the get-go, you'll be able to boost your chances of finding a home that can serve you well for years to come.

2. Take Advantage of Housing Market Data

There is no shortage of housing market data available. With this information in hand, you should have no trouble entering the housing market with the resources that you need to succeed.

Examine the prices of available houses in cities or towns where you'd like to live. By doing so, you can better understand how much it will cost to acquire your dream residence.

Also, check out the prices of recently sold houses in areas that you're considering. This housing market data will help you differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's one and ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Even a resourceful homebuyer knows his or her limitations. Luckily, real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market experts can help homebuyers fill in the gaps along the property buying journey.

A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of purchasing a great home at an affordable price. This housing market professional will set up home showings for you, keep you up to date about new residences as they become available and negotiate with property sellers on your behalf. Furthermore, he or she is happy to respond to any homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

Let's not forget about the confidence that a real estate agent provides to a homebuyer, either. A real estate agent will help you seamlessly navigate the property buying journey. Thus, he or she will simplify the process of acquiring a top-notch residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Start your homebuying journey today Ė use these tips, and you can become a resourceful property buyer.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Julie Shanks on 2/9/2020

 Photo by Bruce Mars via Pexels

House shopping when you live far from your new community is not easy, but technology makes it much simpler to tackle this big task. While nothing beats in-person visits, if you live across the country, or even in an international destination, you may not have that option. Here’s a look at how you can make a long-distance house shopping experience work.

Find the Right Agent

You’re going to need a tech-savvy agent who is willing to be in constant communication. The agent is going to need to use technology to help you see houses, be able to get documents back and forth successfully and know how to move quickly when you’re ready to make the purchase.

Start Online

Start your search online to narrow down what it is you do and don’t want. Different areas of the country have different types of homes, so you may find the basement you’re hoping for just isn’t standard for homes in your new community. Once you have narrowed down what you’re looking for, use the Internet to learn more about the communities.

Schedule Showings

Yes, you can have showings long-distance. Using real-time video tools like FaceTime or Skype, your agent can walk you through the home. This is why the agent you choose is so critical, because you’re going to need this type of partnership to find the right home. These real-time video tours will allow you to see the home's condition. The right agent will do a thorough search of the property and tell you about potential problems they may find.

Research Neighborhoods Carefully

One thing your agent won’t be able to do is give you specific details about neighborhoods, other than facts like its schools and commute times. Research neighborhoods carefully online to learn all you can about them, and find one that seems like a good fit for your needs. If you can, make a survey trip to your new community to narrow down the neighborhoods with the right vibe for you.

Never Skip the Inspection

When you’re buying a home long distance, you’ll need that inspection, even if it isn’t required. The inspection gives you details about the home that will be critical to your decision-making process.

Buying a home when you don’t live near the community is much easier today than it ever has been due to the increased amount of technology available to modern home buyers. Use this technology well, and soon you’ll find a home that’s a great fit.

Posted by Julie Shanks on 2/2/2020

Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash

There’s little doubt that we all want to do our part to protect the environment and solar energy gives us an opportunity to get off fossil fuels. In a perfect world, we would all promptly discard our furnaces and adorn our roofs with solar panels. But if we lift up our eyes for just a moment, only a small percentage of homes have taken the initiative.

That’s largely because we do not live in a perfect world and converting to solar must be cost-effective for the average homeowner. There are a variety of factors that everyday people can weigh to determine if solar panels are worth the investment in 2020.

Calculate Your Annual Electricity Usage & Cost

Understanding energy costs tends to be complicated in the U.S. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average monthly electric bill was $117.65 in 2018 with the average price per kWh coming in at 12.87 cents. But costs around the country can differ dramatically. The EIA’s 2018 regional calculations highlight precisely those differences.

  • New England: $129.49 at 20.60 cents per kWh
  • Middle Atlantic: $113.39 at 15.97 cents per kWh
  • East North Central: $106.03 at 13.25 cents per kWh
  • West North Central: $115.68 at 12 cents per kWh
  • South Atlantic: $130.51 at 11.70 cents per kWh
  • East South Central: $137.80 at 11.14 cents per kWh
  • West South Central: $127.42 at 10.77 cents per kWh
  • Mountain: $101.55 at 11.94 cents per kWh
  • Pacific Contiguous: $100.93 at 15.56 cents per kWh
  • Pacific Noncontiguous: $151.22 at 28.03 cents per kWh
  • As you can see, energy costs around the nation complicate decision-making. Places such as New England have far fewer sunny days to power systems yet struggle with the second-highest utility bills. In the Noncontiguous Pacific category, Hawaii leads the nation in high energy bills at $168.13 per month. Given the high number of sunny days the islands enjoy, solar panels would seem to be a viable option in terms of savings and environmental protection.

    Solar Panel Tax Credits are Available

    Although much of the conversation revolves around the “average” cost of a system and the range of kWh savings, it’s safe to say that all solar is local. Deciding on a system in your state will be a matter of calculating how much energy it can generate based on sunlight and how many panels you will need.

    The good news is that the federal government continues to offer the investment tax credit (ITC), which allows homeowners to deduct up to 26 percent of installation costs. Some states and local municipalities may offer additional benefits. But based on the ITC, the average 2 kW system is expected to be discounted from $5,920 to $4,381. Higher producing solar systems such as a 10 kW system enjoy reductions from $29,600 to $21,904. Still, all this data doesn’t answer the question of whether solar panels are cost-effective in 2020.

    How to Know if Solar Panels Fit into Your Budget

    Doing “solar math” involves figuring out your average monthly electricity cost. Take into consideration how much that utility bill has increased during the previous 10-20 years. Now calculate the size of the system needed to power your home. If you live in low-sun northern states, you will likely need a large system. The next step is to look at your investment.

    Most homeowners finance solar systems with a common goal of the monthly payment being equal or less than your current utility bill. If you can power the home and get even close to current grid costs, it’s entirely likely this is a prudent move. As you can see from the past decade or two of electric bills, they keep increasing. The sun doesn’t charge extra year-over-year.

    Categories: Uncategorized  

    Posted by Julie Shanks on 1/26/2020

    Purchasing a home in a buyer's market may seem like a fast, simple process. However, it is important to realize that homebuyers constantly compete for the best residences in cities and towns nationwide. And if you're not careful, you risk missing out on an opportunity to acquire your dream house.

    What does it take to secure a home in a buyer's market? Here are three tips to ensure that you can do just that.

    1. Study the Housing Market Closely

    A buyer's market features a large assortment of top-notch residences and a shortage of property buyers. As such, this market heavily favors homebuyers, and property buyers who examine the real estate market closely may be able to boost their chances of purchasing a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

    For homebuyers, it is essential to establish criteria for your dream residence. With homebuying criteria at your disposal, you can narrow your search for the ideal residence and accelerate the homebuying process.

    Don't forget to check out homes in-person, either. If you set up a home showing or attend an open house, you'll be able to envision what it's like to own a home and determine whether a residence is right for you.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    What good is shopping for a house if you cannot afford to pay for it? Fortunately, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage to understand exactly how much you can spend on a new house.

    To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders will be able to offer insights into a variety of mortgage options, respond to your mortgage concerns and questions and help you select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

    Pre-approval for a mortgage is vital for homebuyers, particularly in a buyer's market. If you have a mortgage in hand when you explore available homes, you may even be able to avoid the temptation to overspend on a residence.

    3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

    When it comes to navigating a buyer's market, a real estate agent can deliver outstanding support.

    A real estate agent can teach you about the intricacies of buying a home and help you streamline the homebuying process. He or she also will be available to respond to your homebuying questions, ensuring you can make informed decisions as the homebuying journey moves forward.

    Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can help you alleviate stress as you search for your dream home. This housing market professional will keep you up to date about new properties as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. By doing so, a real estate agent enables you to focus on what's important Ė purchasing a first-rate house at a price that matches your budget.

    Buying a home can be challenging, even in a buyer's market. But with the aforementioned tips, you can simplify the homebuying process and move closer to securing a house that meets or exceeds your expectations.

    Categories: Uncategorized  

    Posted by Julie Shanks on 1/19/2020

    Photo by Jean van der Meulen via Pixabay

    You are nearing the end of a building project when your general contractor reminds you that it will soon be time to finalize your lighting, fixtures and appliances. You have been looking and saving different ideas for months, so it seems it should be easy to make your final decisions right? Here are a few ways to solidify your new accessories.

    What Is Your Style?

    Itís not uncommon to find yourself liking a variety of styles; however, itís usually best to find a style that is most appealing to you and carry that style/theme throughout your home.

    Did your last home have gold fixtures and now the trend seems to be silver or brushed bronze? Don't let the past define your future style. Be open-minded as you explore what new styles you might find yourself drawn to, and solidify the one that speaks most to your tastes.

    Online Ideas

    Online research can be very helpful. Is your style Old World, Traditional, Contemporary or cottage charm? With many styles to consider, you might feel a little overwhelmed. But before you know it, youíll discover a style that brings a smile to your face. If Traditional is your choice, all you need to do is search key terms such as "traditional style kitchens," "traditional bathrooms" or even "traditional style landscaping," and youíll be shocked at all the options you have to choose from.


    Before moving ahead too quickly, remember your overall budget. Do you have a particular refrigerator or stove you were hoping to have, but it does not fall into your budget? You may want to prioritize the appliances that youíve been hoping for and scale back on a few stylistic choices.

    Moving Ahead

    Now that the research is complete and you know the style and appliances you are you want, itíll be fairly simple to pick your various items. The general contractor will provide you with an online or local home improvement store in which to choose each item, along with sizing and itemized cost parameters.

    Cherry on Top

    Once all your necessary items are set in place, you can add the finishing touches as you incorporate color and texture. Furniture, pillows and other decor such as family photos and art will add the needed warmth and personality to turn your house into a home.

    Not sure where to start? Ask your real estate agent for the names of reliable decorating and interior design professionals in your area.

    Categories: Uncategorized