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Making the commitment to move cross country can be a daunting task. There are several details that are often overlooked until it is too late, and it can be challenging to organize everything before the big day. When you do arrive in Raleigh or Charlotte, however, the stress behind moving will quickly be forgotten. I’m sure you already know that there are countless benefits to living here including the plentiful jobs, beautiful weather, great barbecue, exciting breweries, and lush parks. I’ve compiled 17 helpful tips and tricks below that should come in handy before you begin the process of packing up your belongings and making the cross country trip.  1. Should I hire a company to ship my car cross country?  Although this may seem to be an expensive endeavor, consider the cost of gas, hotels, restaurants, tolls, mileage, and wear and tear that will inevitably happen when driving your car 40+ hours cross country. Depending on where you are moving from, it may be more cost-effective and less stressful to ship your car and buy a flight into Raleigh verses driving several thousand miles. A few of our clients have done this and found it to be convenient, I myself, drove down when I made the move from Boston to Raleigh. 2. What should I know about shipping my car?  Shipping companies transport vehicles on open or enclosed car carriers, which offer different options based on your needs and budget. There are a few differences between these two options: Open carriers Open carrier is the most common method when transporting a car, and I’m sure you’ve frequently encountered these carriers when driving. An open carrier typically holds about seven to nine vehicles and is a cheaper alternative to enclosed carriers. The downside to this method is that, because your car isn’t enclosed, it will not be protected from inclement weather or debris. Companies such as www.uship.com compare the prices of various open carrier companies to provide you with an effective rate. I tested the price of shipping a 2019 Nissan Rogue from Los Angeles to Raleigh, and the cheapest option through their website was $1,544.  Enclosed carriers This option is ideal for those with luxury vehicles, as enclosed carriers fully protect your vehicle from the elements. The downside is, this transport method is typically considerably more expensive than the open carrier option. I calculated the cost of shipping a 2019 Nissan Rogue in an enclosed carrier from Los Angeles to Raleigh through www.montway.com and the total came to $2,319, so it is a bit more expensive to go the enclosed route.  3. Can I ship other items besides my car?  You can ship smaller items via USPS, or you can ship larger items through companies such as uShip.com, which is the company I mentioned above that also offers open and enclosed vehicle carriers.  4. When should I book my flights?  I recommend using an app called Hopper to monitor flights and determine the cheapest time to move if you have some flexibility. I also recommend booking flights at least two months prior to your move date to take advantage of lower prices. This can come in handy whether you're moving to Charlotte, Boise, or anywhere in the United States. These two cities have seen huge population increases in recent years 5. What should I know about hiring movers?  I recently read an article about an illegitimate moving company that locks items away into their moving truck and then demands that the customer pays several thousand dollars more than the originally quoted price. If the customer doesn’t pay what the scammers ask, their items are removed from the truck and left on the curb. This is of course an extreme case, but there are many companies like this out there. It is important to read reviews on Yelp and do thorough research prior to booking a company. Gather price quotes from several different companies – I don’t recommend just going with the first one you find. Some companies might be more expensive, but they might also have four or five movers included in the price, whereas cheaper movers might only have two movers, meaning the process will take twice as long.  6. If I decide to DIY my move, what options are available?  If you don’t have a lot of items, it might be cost-effective to rent a U-Haul and DIY your move. When doing so, I recommend preparing by buying or renting moving items such as dollies, packing tape, newspapers, and bubble wrap. Instead of spending money on cardboard boxes, I recommend looking online for local plastic bin delivery companies in your area. This is a much more environmentally sustainable solution and is often more cost-effective. For example, here in Raleigh we have companies such as SaveATreeMovingBoxes.com or LendABox.com. I also recommend taking your car for a thorough checkup to ensure it is in drivable condition. Let your mechanic know that you will be driving cross country so that he can ensure all necessary repairs are completed prior to the move.   7. How do I stay on budget?  Apps such as Daily Budget are great for keeping track of expenses and staying on-track when moving. If you prefer to write everything down, budgets can be purchased at an office supply store such as Staples or Office Max. Additionally, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word also offer great budgeting templates. Every budget will vary, but if you choose to hire movers, here are some items you should include: moving company fee and tip for movers, moving insurance, fees for additional services (such as moving a piano, etc.), professional packing (if you choose to hire professional packers verses pack yourself).  If you are moving on your own, items to add to your budget include the price of the truck or U-Haul rental, gas/mileage, insurance, equipment rental (such as a dolly, loading ramp, furniture covers, etc.), hotels, restaurants, and tolls.  8. What are some money-saving tips if I choose to move myself?  When renting a van or truck, ask the company how many miles to the gallon you can expect so that you can properly budget. You can also calculate the cost of fuel by using the AAA fuel calculator. Moving insurance might be covered under your credit card company, so contact them prior to purchasing. Also, it is advisable to add a bit of a cushion in your budget to allot for the price of gas going up or any incidentals that may occur during the trip.  9. What is the process on purchasing moving insurance?  If your credit card company doesn’t cover moving insurance, sit down with an insurance agent and carefully review what the insurance does and does not cover. If you have several expensive items, it might be worthwhile to purchase a more comprehensive plan.  10. What is the cheapest way to move?  That’s what friends are for Offer to buy pizzas and beer for a few friends who are willing to help you load up your U-Haul or car. I recommend having friends come over in small groups and only ask them to help you for 2 – 3 hours at a time. Have one or two friends come by to help in the morning, another group in the afternoon, and – if needed – one more group in the evening. Having too many hands on deck will cause chaos and frustration and will slow down the moving process. Also, if friends know that they are only needed for a few hours as opposed to a full day, they will be far more inclined to pitch in and help. Give them at least a month’s notice (or more if possible) when asking them to help you move so that they can hire babysitters. If you have young children, schedule babysitters ahead of time as well to ensure that your little ones are safely out of the house while heavy furniture and boxes are being moved.  11. What else should I take care of before I move cross country?  Raleigh has fantastic doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and more. However, moving is stressful and time-consuming, and researching new doctors and dentists while in the midst of moving cross country can be an additional burden. I recommend taking care of all doctor, dentist, and pet-related visits prior to moving if there is anything that can’t wait a month or two. Transferring insurance records and getting set up with a new Primary Care Physician (PCP) can sometimes take several weeks, so it is not worth risking it and waiting until you are moved into your new home to take care of important medical visits.  12. What are some document and account-related logistics I should think about?  Pay all outstanding fines and transfer/cancel any gym memberships or any other accounts you have in your current area. Update your voter registration and change your address for your car insurance. When moving out of state, you will have up to 30 days to obtain a new registration and transfer your license plates. Keep all important documents such as birth certificates, passports, insurance forms, moving documents, and medical records in one folder or container so that they are accessible. If you have a lot of frozen food in your freezer, try to use up as much of it as possible and make meals out of the items in your pantry to make your move a bit lighter. If you have pets, get copies of their records, ensure that you have their ID tags, and get copies of their vaccines and registration. If you are renting your current space, get a head start on cleaning the house or apartment and spackle any holes to ensure you receive your security deposit back.  One of the most important documents to update is your driver’s license and registration. Take it from me when I say that this is extremely important and should not be put off until the last minute 13. What should I bring and what should I get rid of when moving?  Raleigh has fairly warm weather year-round, even in the winter months. January, February, and March typically don’t get colder than about 55 degrees or so. If you are moving from an area with a cold climate and own a number of bulky parkas, snow boots, and various other winter items, you can probably donate or sell most of those. Hang on to one or two jackets and a pair of boots if you plan on traveling to areas with cold climates in the winter months, but you most-likely will not need as many cold weather items.  14. Should I buy new furniture?  Take careful inventory of the items you have in your house or apartment. Is that chair with the missing cushions that you’ve had for seven years really worth moving cross country? Or the beat-up dresser with missing handles? Unless you own expensive furniture that is in great condition, it might be easier, less-stressful, and cheaper to just buy new furniture when you arrive in Raleigh.  But please don’t throw your furniture away There is more than 10M+ tons of furniture filling landfills according to the Environmental Protection Act, and there are many sustainable options for getting rid of furniture than just throwing it in a dumpster. Bring your furniture to a local vintage shop, Goodwill, or any other local donation service. Many donation companies will save you a trip and pick up the furniture for you, making it even easier. If you have trouble finding a donation company or shop that wants your items, try hosting a garage/yard sale or just leave the items outside with a ‘Free’ sign attached to the items you’re trying to get rid of. Chances are that someone will need them 15. I’m feeling overwhelmed by packing. How can I organize my items?  There are several helpful apps and websites that will come in handy when beginning the packing process. An app called Magic Home Inventory will help you catalog all of your belongings by room. You can even estimate weight and cubic footage so that moving companies can provide you with a more accurate moving quote.  To keep yourself and anyone else who is helping with the move stay on track, Google Keep is a great tool to stay on top of checklists. You can create a packing timeline, moving to-do list, chore list, and more as the big moving day comes near. As you check off tasks in Google Keep, everyone who has access to the document will receive updates to keep everyone on track. Additional apps worth checking out include MyStuff, Sortly, Home Move Pro, and Home Inventory.  16. What are some other options to get rid of 'stuff'?  Host a “Take My Stuff” party Gather together any items that you want to get rid of such as jars of spices, non-perishables, unfinished bottles of liquor, glassware, or any other items that you don’t want to pay to move. Invite your friends over, make cocktails with the leftover liquor, and let them take any items that you don’t have use for anymore. Remember: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure 17. When is the best time to move?  If your moving date is flexible, research the best/cheapest days in the month to move. Movers typically tend to be busiest at the beginning and end of the month, so if you can fall somewhere in between those days, you might be able to negotiate a cheaper deal with the moving company.  It is also typically more expensive to move on weekends and in the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
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Congratulations on taking the first step in understanding the purchasing process – this is an extremely exciting endeavor Although at times stressful and overwhelming, buying a home is one of the most valuable investments you will ever make and will be both fun and exciting as you go along. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the real estate closing process. Every state varies in its closing requirements, so closing on a home in North Carolina will be very different than closing in other states (including South Carolina).   Step 1: Determine what you’re looking for in a home I advise that you be as practical as possible when considering what the absolute “must-haves” are in your future home. Although having that extra bathroom or a sprawling master suite is great, it might not be in your budget. There are many different options to consider when purchasing a home, so I hope this brief list will be helpful when making those decisions: Home Logistics: Do you want a home with multiple acres and plenty of land? Or, are you comfortable with something on less than an acre and close to neighbors? Is a driveway a must-have? Do you prefer a condominium apartment over a house? Location: How far are you willing to travel to work? Is it important to be close to restaurants and nightlife or do you prefer to be in a secluded area? Are there certain school districts you want to live in? Are you comfortable with city traffic noise or do you want to be in a quiet neighborhood? Do you want to live in an area with families and young children or do you prefer to live near a younger or older age group? Size and floorplan layout: How many bedrooms do you need? How many baths? Is a finished basement a must-have? Do you want the whole home to be on one level or multiple levels? Amenities and upgrades: If you are looking for a condo, are their certain building amenities you are looking for (such as a pool, gym, etc.)? If you are buying a home, do you need a washer/dryer? Do you want a new kitchen? Is hardwood flooring throughout a must-have or are you comfortable with carpeting? Step 2: Get pre-approved for a mortgage Please note that getting pre-approved is not the same as getting pre-qualified. Pre-approval is a fairly easy process and will tell you exactly how much house you can afford based on your income, expenses, and more. Pre-approval carefully reviews your credit and is far more thorough than pre-qualification, which only provides a rough estimate of how much you may be able to afford. Will getting a mortgage pre-approval affect my credit? Yes, obtaining mortgage pre-approval will knock your credit down a few points because the lender will run a hard credit check. But bear in mind that this is an extremely important step in the purchasing process and one that will set you apart because it helps sellers know that you are a serious, motivated buyer and have the mortgage backup information to prove it. Additionally, many real estate agents will require that a buyer obtain mortgage pre-approval (unless they are a cash buyer) so that they will know the price range in which they can afford to buy. Step 3: Hire a Full-Service Real Estate Agent If you are considering delving into the home purchasing process without a real estate agent, I strongly advise against this. Here’s the best part about being a buyer: working with a real estate agent won’t cost you anything The seller typically pays the real estate commission, totaling 5 or 6, on average. Speak with friends and family and conduct thorough research prior to reaching out to a potential real estate agent. Read their online reviews, check the content on their website and social media profiles, and ensure that your values align prior to taking this important step. You will spend a lot of time with your agent over the next few months touring homes and working through negotiations, so you want to ensure that you hire someone you trust and work well with. It is perfectly acceptable to interview more than one agent prior to deciding who to hire. Ask lots of questions during the interviews and take the time after your meeting to reflect, speak with someone close to you, and decide whether or not you want to move forward with that agent. This is an important decision that shouldn’t be rushed As mentioned previously in this post, buying a home is one of the most important transactions you will ever make. A lot of money is at stake and you will put yourself at major risk of leaving considerable cash on the closing table if you do not work with a real estate agent. It is also important that you do not hire a discount agent. Most discount agents do not have the tools necessary to expedite the buying process. A full-service agent, on the other hand, will try to make the purchasing process as smooth and seamless as possible and will provide insightful knowledge about neighborhoods, school districts, average home prices in the area you wish to buy, current market conditions, etc. They will also put you in contact with other professionals who are involved in the purchasing process, such as a trustworthy mortgage broker and reliable home inspector and will prepare all legal documentation and other necessary paperwork. There is a lot of legal terminologies you will be expected to understand if you do not work with a real estate agent and the seller’s agent will not have the time to explain the processes to you. Working with a full-service real estate agent will help guide you through the paperwork and will ensure you aren’t signing anything that you are not 100 comfortable with. Step 4: Search for a home Your real estate agent will be hard at work researching homes on the market and scheduling showing requests with the seller’s agents. You are welcome to assist in this process by looking at homes in your price range online and sending the details to your agent if you find any that you are interested in viewing. Soon, it will be time to view homes in-person. I strongly advise being open-minded throughout this process and taking the time to carefully walk through each home. I also recommend keeping a running list on your phone of what you do and don’t like in each home you view. Hated the wall-to-wall carpeting but loved the recessed lighting? Be sure to jot that down. You will be touring various homes during this period and it is easy to get confused so it will be helpful to have a point of reference. Step 5: Find your dream home and make an offer Congratulations on finding the home of your dreams Prior to putting in an offer on the home, your real estate agent will conduct thorough research on other homes that have closed in the neighborhood. If the home you wish to purchase is listed for $250,000 but most of the homes in the area that are similar in size recently sold for $220,000, you will probably want to put in an offer closer to $220,000. Alternatively, if most of the homes sold closer to $275,000, you will know you are getting a great deal by putting in an offer at the asking price of $250,000. Step 6: Put in a purchase offer and begin negotiations Prior to putting in an offer, I recommend asking your agent for a sample of the offer to purchase and contract documents to get an understanding of the terms and conditions both you and the seller will need to agree upon. Your real estate agent will be responsible for handling the negotiations and will ensure you are getting the greatest value. Negotiating a deal can sometimes take several days (or longer) until all parties are in agreement, so I advise exercising tremendous patience during this time. Be polite and courteous to your agent, the seller’s agents, and the sellers, and remember that your agent has your best interest at heart. Step 7: Schedule Home Inspection After the offer has been accepted, it’s time to schedule the home inspection and pest inspection. Unless negotiated otherwise, the cost of these inspections will be your responsibility as the buyer. However, these inspections are crucial to ensuring that there aren’t any major defects with your home. It is also very important that you schedule the home inspection prior to scheduling the home appraisal (which is different than the inspection) and obtaining mortgage pre-approval. A home inspection carefully reviews the home and searches for any defects. An inspector will review the electrical, plumbing, roof, overall structure of the home, and more to ensure that there aren’t any problems. If all goes well and there aren’t any major issues, you are ready to obtain mortgage approval. However, if the home inspection report comes back and there are more problems with the home than you anticipated, you will have the option to back out of the deal. It is important that you have the home inspection completed before the home appraisal and mortgage approval because the money spent on the appraisal and approval process is nonrefundable. If you choose not to move forward with buying the home, you will have obtained mortgage approval and paid for an appraisal at a loss. Step 8: Obtain a mortgage If all goes well at the inspection and you don’t find any major problems in the home you wish to buy, it is now time to obtain a mortgage. You will meet with a mortgage lender to discuss the various loan options that are available and assess which one makes the most sense for you. If you have a credit score of at least 620, decent income, and can afford a larger down payment, you will most-likely qualify for a conventional mortgage. Home buyers with lower credit, a small down payment, and limited income may qualify for a government loan. A lender will almost always require a property appraisal when approving a home loan. This process typically involves examining recent home sales in the area (otherwise known as “comparables”) and comparing the sale prices to the home you wish to buy. Using the same example I mentioned earlier if you wish to purchase a home listed for $250,000 but similar homes in the neighborhood sold for $220,000, your lender might only be willing to loan you $220,000. If that is the case, it may be your responsibility to pay the remaining $30,000 out-of-pocket if don’t want to back out of the deal and the seller doesn’t want to budge on price. Step 9: Obtain title insurance Title insurance is a vital component to purchasing a property because it protects both you and your mortgage lender if for any reason the seller didn’t have rightful ownership of the house when they sold it. For example, you may be purchasing the home from a single woman who didn’t realize her ex-husband still co-owned the property and hadn’t signed off on the sale. Or, maybe the seller had plumbing work completed on the home several years ago but never paid the plumber for the work. As a result of the overdue payment, a lien (debt) was placed against the house. These liens stick to a house and will become the new owner’s responsibility if title insurance is not in place. Although the chances of these circumstances occurring are fairly slim, it is still important that you protect yourself with title insurance. Without title insurance, you could lose a substantial amount of money (or the house altogether).    Step 10: Final Walk-Through If there were any problems that came up during the home inspection that the seller agreed to fix, the final walk-through is your opportunity to ensure that everything was repaired adequately. Here is a brief list of some items that should be checked during the final walk-through: Turn on and off all lights Run water in all sinks and check for leaks Test all appliances Check garage door openers Open and close all doors and windows Flush all toilets Inspect ceilings, wall and floors for any signs of water damage Run garbage disposal and all exhaust fans  Step 11: Close on your home Congratulations on making it to this exciting step Fewer days are more exciting and anxiously anticipated than closing day. What should I expect at the closing? You (or your mortgage lender) will provide a check for the amount that is owed on the home. The seller will then sign the deed, officially transferring ownership to you as the buyer. Can I move into my new home directly after the closing? Your contract will specify the exact date you can move in after closing. In some situations, you will receive the keys at the closing table and will be able to move in immediately. In other situations, the seller may request 30, 45, or 60 days of occupancy after closing on the home.   Who pays transfer tax in North Carolina? The transfer tax is typically paid by the seller. When the ownership is transferred in the state of North Carolina, a tax of $1 per $500 is imposed on the property. So, a transfer tax of $600 would be paid by the seller on the sale of a $300,000 home. How much time should I expect to spend at the closing? A standard closing typically takes about one to two hours if both buyer and seller are in full agreement. However, depending on the situation, if problems arise during the closing, it can take several hours to complete.    
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Best Spots for Brunch in Raleigh, NC Brunch in the south typically conjures thoughts of delectable shrimp and grits, crispy chicken and waffles, warm biscuits, and many other comfort food specialties. Although Raleigh offers the very best of every Southern comfort food delicacy, there is so much more to choose from beyond just the Southern staples. Raleigh proudly serves a variety of vegan and vegetarian options, Mexican fare, authentic Parisian cuisine, and so much more. Some of the best-rated restaurants in the World are found in Raleigh, including Brewery Bhavana. Raleigh’s food culture prides itself on offering the freshest farm-to-table ingredients, specialty brunch cocktails, and warm, inviting atmospheres. Brunch is a staple here in Raleigh, and most restaurants serve their brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays (although some only offer brunch on Sundays). If you are only looking for vegan and vegetarian brunch bites, scroll down to the bottom of this list. Happy brunching Beasley’s Chicken & Honey Directions and Menu Named Chef of the Year by Eater.com in 2017, Iron Chef competitor and James Beard Award-winning Ashley Christensen is the renowned chef behind Beasley’s Chicken & Honey in Raleigh – and their brunch never fails to impress. The Food: The menu offers a medley of southern comfort food including hot chicken eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy, egg casseroles, and so much more. Although everything on the menu is a home run here, I recommend opting for something with Christensen’s delectable fried chicken or the hot chicken eggs benedict, which offers two poached eggs with a tasty Béarnaise sauce, creamed collard greens, and toasty buttermilk biscuits. For those who prefer the sweeter brunch specialties, Beasley’s offers crispy cinnamon churros or a Belgian waffle complete with in-house Virginia maple syrup, fresh fruit, and a dollop of whipped cream. The Atmosphere: It is not uncommon for a line to form before doors even open on weekends at Beasley’s, so I strongly advise arriving early if you can. Beasley’s Chicken & Honey boasts a vibrant atmosphere, a friendly bar, tables for small parties, and communal seating with a long table that extends through the length of the restaurant. High ceilings and a glass-enclosed interior provide a sun-filled, well-lit space that is ideal for brunching with family and friends. Location and Hours: Beasley’s Chicken & Honey is located at 237 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Poole’s Directions Beasley’s Chicken & Honey isn’t the only restaurant that has been brought to fame under Chef Ashley Christensen’s culinary mastery. Chef Christensen opened Poole’s doors in December 2006 and has never compromised on taste, presentation, or atmosphere ever since. The Food: Poole’s values the importance of supporting family farms and offers the freshest dishes from local growers and artisan producers. As a result, the menu at Poole’s changes seasonally, and sometimes even daily, and relies solely on locally-sourced ingredients. Their menu isn’t found on their website because their farm-to-table specialties change so frequently. The Atmosphere: Poole’s restaurant is located in the original Poole’s Pie Shop, which was famously opened by John Poole in 1945 and was an instant sensation. Effortlessly blending a diner-like atmosphere with retro-chic charm, Christensen highlights the original craftsmanship of John Poole’s 1945 restaurant, including the double horseshoe bar and leather banquette seating. Reservations are not accepted and the line forms before the restaurant opens, so I advise arriving early to brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Due to limited space, children are not allowed to dine, but they are welcome at Beasley’s Chicken & Honey or Chuck’s (which is another one of Christensen’s five renowned Raleigh restaurants). Location and Hours:Poole’s is located at 426 South McDowell Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar Directions and Menu The Food Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar offers modernized Southern classics and farm-to-table ingredients. Their contemporary flavors include rich, hearty comfort foods including crispy fried chicken, warm biscuits, steak and eggs, fresh omelets, and, of course, chicken and waffles. The sweeter side of their delectable menu includes gingerbread banana pancakes and French toast bread pudding that is sure to impress. The Atmosphere: Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar offers outdoor seating and a warm, inviting interior with a working fireplace, wooden bar, and leather booths. Recognizing the importance in shopping local, Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar offers a retail market in their restaurant that sells gourmet foods and hand-crafted candles, accessories, and more created by local businesses. Location and Hours: Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar is located at 5625 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, NC 27612. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2pm. Jose and Sons Directions and Menu As much as I love chicken and waffles, it’s sometimes nice to spice up weekend brunch with some tasty Mexican fare. Renowned chef Oscar Diaz, who is now a James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef Southeast, offers an enticing medley of traditional Mexican dishes combined with Southern-style comfort foods. The Food: Huevos rancheros, bacon and egg quesadillas, and steak and eggs with guacamole and chimichurri sauce are among the many delicacies that make up Jose and Sons enticing brunch menu. Taking a unique and delicious spin on traditional chicken and waffles, Jose and Sons offers chicharron and waffles with crisp pork belly, a corn masa waffle, and agave-sriracha sauce. It’s a must-have The Atmosphere: Offering a family-friendly environment with colorful décor, Jose and Sons’ spacious interior boasts a variety of seating areas for both small and large groups and a spacious, circular bar serving up margaritas, palomas, micheladas, and fresh sangria that changes with the season. Location and Hours: Jose and Sons is located at 327 West Davie Street, 102, Raleigh, NC 27601. Brunch is served on Sundays from 11am to 3pm. Coquette Brasserie Directions and Menu If you’re in the mood for fanciful French fare in a beautiful atmosphere, Coquette Brasserie is the place for you. The Food: Coquette Brasserie’s brunch menu offers authentic, carefully-curated Parisian cuisine paired with specialty wines, French cocktails, and Belgian beers. Their brunch menu includes crepes, quiche, benedicts, omelets, croque monsieur/croque madame, steak benedict, and, of course, French toast. The Atmosphere: Coquette Brasserie’s stylish, upscale interior offers elegant red leather booths and outdoor patio-style seating. Their beautiful zinc bar offers signature cocktails and an extensive French wine collection. Location and Hours: Coquette Brasserie is located at 4351 The Circle at North Hills Street, Raleigh, NC 27609. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10am to 3pm. Bon appétit Parkside Restaurant: Directions and Menu Parkside Restaurant takes a mouth-watering spin on the traditional brunch menu. Located at the entrance of the Warehouse District, Parkside Restaurant is situated directly across from historic Nash Square park – lending the restaurant its “Parkside” name. The Food: Parkside Restaurant is a pro at taking the standard brunch menu and taking their own unique, creative approach to each dish. To start the meal, brunchers are offered appetizer options such as jalapeño and bacon deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped dates, and field green tomatoes with crab. The main menu offers savory options such as fried pork chops with peach bourbon glaze on a cheddar waffle, prime rib scramble, short rib benedict, strawberry cream cheese-stuffed waffles, and so much more. Getting hungry yet? I know I sure am The Atmosphere: Parkside Restaurant is passionate about carrying on Raleigh’s many traditions, which is evident in every aspect of their restaurant’s atmosphere. They work hard to ensure the restaurant is comfortable and welcoming and no detail is overlooked, from the warm red brick and reclaimed wooden bar to the North Carolina poplar tree tabletops. Additionally, Parkside Restaurant is proud to offer more than 25 beers on tap and a variety of beverage options for even the pickiest palate. Location and Hours: Parkside Restaurant is located at 301 West Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. If you are vegetarian or vegan (or even if you aren’t), Raleigh has a wide array of delicious brunch options that I have included below: Fiction Kitchen Directions and Menu To those who grew up in North Carolina, chicken and waffles is a staple in the southern diet – and particularly crave-worthy during weekend brunch. Chef Caroline Morrison seeks to bring those flavors back to the vegan and vegetarian palate at Fiction Kitchen with her soy-based ingenuity. Fiction Kitchen offers thoughtfully-prepared vegan and vegetarian “fried chicken”, “pulled pork,” and many more meatless options from a plant-based kitchen. The Food: Chef Morrison serves delicacies such as French toast and “soysage,” fried “mock chicken” with Belgian-style waffles, tofu scramble, and so much more. Fiction Kitchen is as close to the ‘real deal’ as you can get and will certainly make you pause and ask, “Am I eating real chicken?” The Atmosphere: Fiction Kitchen offers a light, airy ambience with colorful walls and retro-chic seating. Their brunch menu includes a variety of specialty cocktails including a vegan bloody Mary, beer, cider, and wine. Location and Hours: Fiction Kitchen is located at 428 South Dawson Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:30am to 3pm. The Remedy Diner Directions and Menu Adding to Raleigh’s delicious vegan and vegetarian options, The Remedy Diner offers a variety of alternative meatless options that will make you forget you’re not eating meat The Remedy Diner also offers a non-vegan/non-vegetarian menu as well. The Food: The Remedy Diner offers a delectable medley of vegan bacon, marinated tempeh, huevos rancheros, quiche, and so much more. For those who prefer non-vegan options, The Remedy Diner offers shrimp and grits, pulled pork, a French toast sandwich stuffed with ham, turkey, bacon, and cheddar, and more. Location and Hours: The Remedy Diner is located at 927 West Morgan Street, Raleigh, NC 27603. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. Irregardless Café Directions and Menu Winner of OpenTable’s Top 50 Vegetarian Restaurants in the United States, Irregardless Café has been serving savory vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and non-vegan/non-vegetarian bites since 1975. Irregardless Café is proud to offer the freshest ingredients from its very own community garden. The Food: Founded, owned, and operated by Chef Arthur Gordon, Irregardless Café was Raleigh’s first vegetarian restaurant. They now offer options for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores and foster a communal eating experience. Their vegan menu has a wide array of options that are both creative and delicious, some of which include a tofu reuben, a vegan breakfast burrito, a black bean quinoa burger, and more. Their non-vegan/vegetarian menu includes a sunny-side up cheeseburger, crab cake eggs benedict, shrimp and grits, and more. The Atmosphere: Irregardless Café is pleased to offer live music while dining every night of the week. On Saturday nights, diners can enjoy music early in the night and a lively jazz band that plays from 9pm to 11pm. Location and Hours: 901 West Morgan Street, Raleigh, NC 27603. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2:30pm.
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With the rise of student loan debt, frequent career shifts, and living through the 2008 housing crisis, many may consider millennials to be financially insecure and averse to home ownership. However, research surprisingly points in the opposite direction. According to a 2018 Bank of America survey, the vast majority of millennials, more than 72, consider homeownership to be their top priority. The only live event that ranked higher was retirement, at 80. Getting married and having children fell lower on the list, at 50 and 44 respectively. To the millennial generation, owning a home is not only a wise investment option – it is a fundamental value intrinsic to the American Dream. I’m a real estate agent. What should I know about working with millennial home buyers? Millennials are waiting longer to buy. It is not uncommon for millennials to move back in with their parents after college to save money and pay off part of their student loan debt. Living with their parents is also a viable option because many millennials have not secured steady, full-time jobs immediately after graduating from college. A study conducted by the Arizona Pathways to Life Success indicated that nearly half of graduates ranging in age from 23 to 26 rely on their families for financial support in some capacity. Therefore, 29 years old is the median age of purchasing a home – which is significantly older than prior generations. 79 percent of millennials are first-time home buyers. I’m sure this comes as no surprise, especially considering most millennials who are of age to buy a home are in their mid-to-late twenties. As a result, finding a knowledgeable, trustworthy agent is extremely important to a millennial buyer because they are new to the home buying process. Millennials are looking for long-term homeownership. Millennials are often pegged as being ‘flaky’ and noncommittal due to their tendency to get married later in life and shift jobs more often than prior generations. However, contrary to popular belief, it is important to most millennial home buyers that they secure a home in a safe neighborhood with a good school district and a short commute to work. They embrace the fixer-upper. Millennials are not looking for the picture-perfect home. In fact, they oftentimes prefer to spend less on a fixer-upper and invest money into recreating the space to match their vision. 67 percent of millennial home buyers would put an offer on a home in need of a full or partial renovation. Mobile phone use reigns supreme. This is most-likely also unsurprising knowledge, but 63 of millennials said that they primarily conducted their property search on their phones. When working with millennials, ask them about their preferred communication method. It most likely will be a text message or email, but many millennials may prefer phone calls as well. Millennials are researchers. This applies to everything in their life – whether it’s researching restaurants, the best moving companies, and more – millennials first step when beginning any project is always to conduct thorough research. It is imperative that your online brand as a real estate agent is strong, as the first step a millennial will take when hiring you is Googling your name. Ensure that your online reviews, web content, and social media pages are an accurate reflection of your personality as an agent. They will also want to research every home you plan on bringing them to. They are far more inclined to view a property that has photos, videos, and a 3-D digital tour giving them a feel for the layout over a listing that only has a few photos. They want to work with a trustworthy agent. Although millennials enjoy conducting their own research prior to beginning a project, they still recognize the importance in hiring a knowledgeable and trustworthy agent. According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 90 percent of buyers aged 37 years old and younger purchased their home through a real estate agent. This is primarily because they are first-time home buyers and are unaware of the various intricacies involved in a real estate transaction. Therefore, they will rely heavily on their real estate agent to explain the steps involved. Additionally, according to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 75 percent of millennials indicated that they need assistance from a real estate agent to better understand the purchasing process. Marriage is on the decline. Marriage is becoming less popular among millennials, and those who do choose to get married are doing so later in life. In fact, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center, it is projected that 25 percent of millennials will never get married. As a result, 20 percent of millennial homebuyers are living with a partner when they purchase a home but are not married. These statistics greatly exceed any other generation, where home buyers have traditionally been married prior to purchasing a home. Millennials know what they want. The majority of millennials take the leap from renting to buying, or they spend some time living with their parents at home to save money prior to purchasing a home. As a result of the time they spend renting or living at home, they have time to narrow down their options and know exactly what they are looking for in a home. Therefore, they typically take less time to decide on a property when compared to prior generations. On average, millennials take approximately eight weeks to make a decision on a new home. Millennials seek a strong sense of community. This aspect of millennial culture oftentimes gets undermined by the false belief that millennials are addicted to their phones and have decreased interest in human engagement. However, millennials are very much the opposite. They seek a strong sense of community in their daily life – and this especially applies to their home buying choices. With the increase in individuals working from home each year, millennials are drawn to neighborhoods that have communal workspaces and lively cafes where they can work during the day. Companies such as WeWork, Techspace, Green Desk, Impact Hub, and more are revolutionizing office space culture by providing comfortable, productive environments for individuals who work remotely. If you are working with millennial buyers, finding homes that are in close proximity to co-working spaces such as these is a great selling point. Additional selling points that millennials are drawn to include living in areas with monthly social events, outdoor dining options, and rooftop bars/lounges. Millennials are big on tech: The rise of virtual staging. Virtual reality and 3-D digital walk-throughs are becoming increasingly popular among millennials. In fact, according to Curbed.com, one out of every three buyers put in offers on homes without even viewing them first – and more than 41 percent of those buyers are, unsurprisingly, millennials. With the rise of virtual reality, videography, and 3-D walk-throughs in the real estate market, purchasing homes without viewing them will continue to grow in popularity. The minute mortgage. Millennials were raised in the fast-paced world of technology, where the answer to pretty much anything can be found by tapping a few buttons on their phone. They are avid researchers and are drawn to quick, easy-to-use programs that enable them to work through complicated tasks quickly and efficiently. This ease-of-access mindset comes into play with the mortgage process as well. Companies such as Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage mobile service are revolutionizing the loan process and enabling borrowers to apply for a mortgage in minutes. Not only is the application process quick and efficient, but the loan also closes in less than a month, which is something that traditional lenders are unable to do. Other companies, such as financing firm Lenda, Social Finance, and Roosify are jumping on board as well. Lenda’s application only takes a few minutes to fill out and the loan can close in as little as two weeks. Social media. According to a recent study conducted by market research group Nielsen, American adults spend more than eleven hours per day interacting with media in some form – whether it’s watching videos, reading articles and online content, listening to music or a podcast, or engaging with social media in some way. These statistics are on a rapid incline, as the average amount of time spent interacting with media in 2014 was a little over nine hours per day. Media is always at the forefront of millennials mindsets, and the use of social media is critical in the real estate process. If you are a real estate agent and are attempting to target the millennial market, Instagram Live and Facebook Live videos are key. Millennials are drawn to videography and are far more likely to watch a video of an agent giving a tour of a home vs. reading an article about a home or rifling through photos. Agents who offer video tours and do a question and answer segment at the end of the video will have more interaction and heightened interest in their properties. If going live on Facebook or Instagram is something you are not comfortable with, videos, in general, are extremely popular on social media – they don’t always have to be broadcast live. An additional Nielsen survey found that 72 of millennials view video content through social media apps at least once per day. As a result of millennials active social media use, they will most likely be posting about their home buying search throughout the process. This may come in the form of videos, blogging, social media posts, and more – depending on their level of internet engagement. This is free advertising for you as an agent and can lead to future referrals from their friends and family who engage with them on social media. Therefore, it is imperative that you always hold yourself accountable and demonstrate the highest degree of professionalism in your texting conversations, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Doing so can lead to repeat business and future referrals. Is student loan debt impeding millennials from buying homes? According to Bankrate, although the vast majority of millennials are struggling to manage the pressure of student loan debt, 79 percent of Americans consider homeownership part of the "American Dream” and plan on owning a home at some point. Many also choose to live at home with their parents after college in the hope that they will save enough money to pay off part of their loans and afford a down payment. What is the price range that most millennials are willing to spend on a home? Because most millennials are battling the pressure of student loan debt, they are typically hoping to secure more affordable homes in the $100,000 to $200,000 range. This is understandable, as most millennials are newer to the workforce and are still working on securing careers. However, 27 are comfortable paying between $200,000 and $299,999, and 15 of millennial home buyers are comfortable buying between $300,000 and $399,999. What kinds of homes appeal most to the millennial market? It may come as a shock to many that millennials are typically drawn to the style and charm of older designs. Although they want some modern upgrades, high-end appliances, and recessed lighting, they are also very interested in pre-war details, mid-century modern, and Mediterranean style. Pre-War: The homes constructed prior to World War II are characterized as having stucco, brick, or stone exteriors and old-world charm and character within. Victorian homes such as Italianates, Queen Anne, Arts & Crafts bungalows, Tudors, Colonials, California Missions, and Greek Revivals all fall within the pre-war category. Mid-Century: Homes built between 1945 and 1965 fall into the mid-century category, which is known for its sleek style and modern appeal. Famous architects and builders who constructed mid-century homes include Frank Lloyd Wright, Streng, and Eichler. These homes are characterized by having flat roofs, triangular windows, geometric shapes, and open floorplans.   Mediterranean: Spanish and Italian tiles, stucco exteriors, tiles roofs, and various interior levels are among the many characteristics that make up a Mediterranean home. These homes typically have wrought-iron accents, ceramic flooring, winding staircases and patios filled with rustic, terracotta pottery. How should a home be decorated to appeal to the millennial market? Farmhouse Sinks Take one look at a trendy interior designer’s Instagram account, and you will see farmhouse sinks galore. These are not only rising in popularity for their beautiful aesthetic, but they are also highly functional and are more spacious than traditional sinks. However, bear in mind that farmhouse sinks do not work in every home. If you have a Victorian-style home, a farmhouse sink will most-likely look out-of-place. Consult with interior designers prior to investing in this design trend to ensure that it will blend well with your space. Integrated cabinetry Millennials have a great appreciation for fine lines and clean, simple designs. Integrated cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms offer a clean, simple appeal and can make a room appear larger than it is. Smart home technology If your home has any type of smart home technology, whether it be a Nest thermostat, automatic lighting, etc., be sure to mention that when writing the property description for your home. Although millennials are often drawn to old-world design, they also value the importance in utilizing sustainable, smart home tech. Earthy tones Millennials have an affinity for the “indoor-outdoor” aesthetic, making a home feel as though nature has been incorporated into the interior space. Earthy tones and soft colors such as blues, greens, and browns contrasted with bright hues of red or orange accents are ideal.  
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One of the first questions new Realtors have for me is always 'how much money will I make in my first year?' and in order to answer that question, you need to understand how Real Estate Agents make money. How much commissions you make in your first year as a Realtor will be entirely dependent on you and how much business you're able to generate. Your gross income is different than your net income, so make sure you're tracking your expenses. The advice below is from 17 Veteran industry leaders who offer tips on how to build your business when you're starting out. If you're looking to make 100k in your first year as a Realtor you'll want to first reverse engineer the process. What is the average price of sold homes in your area? How many homes will you need to sell in order to reach your desired commissions? Also, how much will you have to spend to reach that number? Knowing your key business metrics and keeping track of where your money is going will help you survive your first year in real estate This article is for first-year Real Estate Agents, whether you're six months in and still searching for your first deal OR you just received your license in the mail. The intent of the following Realtors® who contributed to this article is to help those who are seeking help/advice. If you haven't already, you should connect with each one of the following Realtors® on the social media platform of your choice If you'd like to add to the conversation and assist first year Agents, drop us a line in the comments section below Without Further ado... If you could go back to your first year as a Real Estate Agent, what advice would you give yourself?.... Anita Clark | SellingWarnerRobins.com Warner Robins, GA    Without a doubt, the top thing I would tell myself if I was able to turn-back the clock to my first year in this industry is to become an online local community real estate expert as quickly as possible. Not only does this help new agents learn all the inventory in their local markets but it also gets them familiar with driving through all the subdivisions and neighborhoods. If you know what is available and have seen the areas first hand, you can much more easily assist consumers who are either not sure exactly what they are looking for or even aid those who have done their online research and have a good idea where they want to live. It also helps new agents understand the real estate digital tools available to them, how to build a Web presence, and the various ways to share their information both organically and socially, to generate online interest and potentially bring in new clients as well as referral partners too. When others are chasing the next shiny real estate “thing”, sometimes the best course of action is to get back to the online basics and become the definitive source for all things real estate in your area. Joe Samson | JoeSamson.com Calgary, CA    I believe that success is based on a combination of multiple things that one does on a consistent basis. Real estate agents are known to wear multiple hats all the time and to boot strap themselves more often than one could imagine. Therefore I found this topic to be one of the most important questions that we need to ask ourselves not only in the first year of being in real estate, but every day when we open for business. After reflecting of my ten years of being in business, the number one advice that I would give to new agents is: “forget about the sale, and start caring about people”. People like to deal with people who can genuinely show that they care about them. We live in busy times and we tend to streamline a lot of tasks to become more efficient. Staying in touch with your clients cannot be replaced even by the best technological tools or by another individual. If you want that client to be loyal and supportive to you, you will need to find the time to care about them.   Andrew Fortune | GreatColoradoHomes.com Colorado Springs, CO    Looking back, I wish I would have trusted my instincts, rather than listening to everything my brokerage was teaching me. There are MANY different ways to run your business, generate new business, and manage your database. The problem with many brokerages is that they only teach the “tried and true” methods of getting new business. If you like to talk on the phone and network all day, then those tactics may work for you. I’m not that kind of person though. I would hate to have a Realtor contacting me all the time, especially when I’m not even in the market for a home. I knew if I was that way, other people were as well. The skills required to help home buyers and sellers successfully buy and sell real estate have nothing to do with networking all day. You can generate new business in multiple ways using the internet without bothering anyone. I was discouraged from this when I got into the business. I went against my better judgment and did all of the old-school methods of generating business when I started. I worked open houses, made daily calls to my database, and focused on my “sphere”. I almost went out of business in the first year. I decided that if I was going to go out of business, I was going to do it my way. I quit my expensive brokerage and started working with a 100 commission brokerage ($199 fee per transaction). I then started focusing on internet leads and my business hasn’t stopped growing since then. I now have my own brokerage and work with agents who like to do things differently than the old school methods. So, if I could go back in time and give myself some advice, I would tell myself to ignore the people who have been doing the same thing for years and start being innovative online. Since the internet has completely changed the industry over the last 10 years, there’s no time for following the herd, in my opinion. Tyler Zey | EasyAgentPro.com Kansas City, MO    The first thing people have to understand about real estate it this: Being an agent is not a career. You are starting a business. You’re becoming an entrepreneur. This is VERY different than having a job or going into a line of work where salaries, benefits, and 9/5 exists. Here’s what it means to be a real estate agent: Since those are the two biggest things you need to focus on, here are some tips for helping you get started in real estate. Tip 1) Understand how many leads equal your financial goals You need to know how much income you want to make. And then you need to understand how many leads it will take to get there. I made you a Income & Lead Calculator here with Google Sheets. Take this, and figure out your goals like this: What you’ll immediately understand is the steps you need to take to hit your desired income. There will be no guessing whatsoever This is very important. The average agent will be afriad of failure. Or hedge their entire success on that one deal going through next week. Don’t be those agents Use the law of averages to your benefit and understand that if you generate enough leads, the income will follow. Tip 2) Quantify Your Lead Sources The second sheet on that spreadsheet I shared above will help you quantify where your leads are coming from. In real estate, you can either buy leads or earn them with time. This sheet will help you figure out where you will generate what leads from. And hold you accountable for generating them. Tip 3) You’re a business owner now. Here’s what that means: Finally, being a real estate business owner is dramatically different than having a normal career. This means: * When there are problems, people call you. Doesn't matter the time of day. This exists for the first year until you hire people to answer those calls for you. * Your commission check does not equal your take home pay. You have to invest that money back into the business and lead generation sources. * You are taxed differently. This is a good thing for the most part. * No one will be there to make sure you don't fail. It's up to you to start work at 9am. * Weekends were made for real estate transactions. * You should read: E-Myth - It's the best business book for new entrepreneurs. Hopes this help you get started in real estate If you need any lead generation tips, be sure to check out my writings at Easy Agent Pro. Bill Gassett | MaxRealEstateExposure.com Hopkinton, MA    Things were very different back when I first got into the business due to the internet being in its very early stages of development. Back then we did not rely on our websites to bring in business. In fact much of what we did relied more on old fashion marketing including advertising in newspapers and magazines. Fortunately for me I was an early adopter to the internet and the power that it held for capturing business. I made having a dominant website/blog as part of my business strategy. If I were to give a new agent one piece of advice it would be to create an unmistakably good real estate website that locals would want to sink their teeth into. One of the things I have spoken about on multiple occasions is creating exceptional community pages for all the cities or towns you do business in So what is a community page you ask? Essentially a community page gives consumers everything they would want to know about a city or town. Information such as demographics, town history, local attractions, restaurants and of course a description about the real estate market. A good local page will also have some information about yourself and what makes you a hire worthy agent. One important point to emphasize however is the need to market these pages well. As an agent you need to make sure they are done well to perform online. Having the basic understanding of both on page and off page SEO is important. For a Realtor to capture business from these type of pages you should come up in search for a phrase like top Real Estate agents Grafton Mass. When a consumer does a Google search like this they are looking to hire an agent. While this might not be a high volume search, it is a money search This is not a casual real estate enthusiast but someone who is looking to hire a Realtor If I were to do things over again, I would have focused on creating these type of pages a lot sooner Debbie Drummond | TheLasVegasLuxuryHomePro.com Las Vegas, NV    Surviving the first year as a Real Estate agent can be challenging. One of the most common mistakes new agents make is not using our budget efficiently. It’s a good idea for any agent to review their hits and misses at least once a year. For me, the end of the year is a perfect time. It allows you to pre-pay for some of next year’s marketing, memberships or events. Prepaying next year’s expenses is a useful tax tool when you’ve had a good year. It is important to track where each deal originated. I have a host of different emails set up. When advertising in print, etc., I will use a different email address for each ad. My website is designed so I can see whether a lead came from PPC, organic, or a blog post. My CRM shows when a lead comes from the website or one of the lead gen sites. If someone calls, I ask them where they heard about us. One of my best ROIs over the past year has been a YouTube Video. I produced it myself. Spent no money promoting it but it has brought some excellent clients. Unfortunately, most of our marketing costs more than YouTube. One of the typical pitches we hear from vendors is “In your market, you only need one deal to recover the cost.” Trust me, you will hear that line throughout your career in real estate. The catch is, how long does it take the product they’re pitching to bring you that one deal. By tracking ROI of everything, you will know which items to cut. Be careful with marketing programs that need 6 months or even one-year contracts. Lots of vendors will try to rope you into them. If their programs are so good, then why don’t they offer a monthly subscription? Or at least a three-month starter package? Make sure someone in your specific market is having success with the program. Do read the fine print about canceling the contract. Bottomline, once you realize that something isn’t giving you a good ROI it needs to be cut.  Chris Highland | FrederickRealEstateOnline.com Frederick, MD    When I was getting into the real estate business 24 years ago, I had one piece of great advice from my real estate agent: Start in a brokerage where you have direct access to the broker. You'll want training in the technical aspects of the contract and you'll want to have answers to your questions when you need them. I started with a small boutique brokerage in our town, and the broker's office was just a few doors down. She was available and was a great teacher. Good training is probably one of the most important aspects of starting out in the real estate business today, and it seems like its becoming more and rarer. It's crucial to understand the contract in the state where you practice real estate and to know how to structure an offer, and how to properly shepherd a transaction. Learning good practices from the beginning will help your career immensely. The piece of advice that I never got but wish I had: Treat your real estate career like a business. You'll probably not find that kind of help in a local brokerage, you'll have to seek for that information. As a real estate agent today, you are an entrepreneur. As such, you wear all the hats: the CEO, head marketer, lead generation, education director, etc. Start learning right away about business and you'll do well. Kyle Hiscock | RochesterRealEstateBlog.com Rochester, NY    The first year in real estate is generally the toughest one. In fact, the first year will either make or break an agent. With so many different ways to generate business, it can be confusing which will provide the best results. The best advice I can provide for a first-year agent is to start building an online presence. While the results may not be instant, the longevity of building an online presence will outlast any direct mailing or newspaper ad by a long shot. The first suggestion to building an online presence is getting a website and blog up and running. Within that website, designing detailed and thorough real estate guides to your local communities is critical. For example, this Realtor guide I've created the Webster NY real estate market performs very well in the search engine results for terms such as "Top Realtors Webster NY" and "Webster New York Real Estate." By creating these detailed community guides it shows local residents who are searching for these key terms that you have a strong knowledge of the local area, which ultimately can lead to an inquiry from them. Again, while creating an online presence may not be an instant source of leads and income, if you're able to overcome the challenges year one will present, the presence you create will pay you back, ten times over Paul Sian | CincinKyRealEstate.com Cincinnati, OH    If I were to go back in time and advise myself as a new real estate agent I would tell myself to focus on the technical aspects of real estate. Not just technology related to signatures and taking great pictures with professional photography gear but also focusing on the Internet and social media technology to help connect with people. Our work is primarily about connecting with people and helping everyone reach a common ground so homes are sold and people are happy. The Internet helps with connecting with others by helping us as real estate agents learn more and are able to market more widely. It also helps us to convey our message more to those who want and need to hear our message. By remaining connected via the Internet and in real life a new agent can deliver the best value and best help whenever it is needed by clients. By delivering that high caliber value we ensure our client's needs are met and our own goals are met at the same time. Wendy Weir | WendyWeirRelocation.com Birmingham, MI    Looking back, the advice I would give myself now as a first-year Agent in R.E. is really insightful. 1. Most of the day – you will say “I don’t know, but I will find out for you as quickly as possible.” This Builds Trust. 2. Treat each person as if they were a ‘little piece made of GOLD you are carrying around on Cotton Bunting’ (that’s from my grandma Jand it’s for all people not just clients) 3. Drive the route of homes you will be showing at least twice, to make sure you can move easily and without becoming anxious – cause then you’ve got it 4. Show the BEST house First – the majority of buyers will be comparing ALL the others to that one – if their Transferees – they’ll buy that one – Almost guaranteed. 5. If they ask why you showed them all the other homes, say ”I wanted you to see everything available in your price range and parameters, and I NEEDED you to have a Good one to compare them to. 6. Make sure you schedule 3 appointments every hour – this includes driving time and giving the clients, plenty of time in between houses – in case they stay longer at one. 7. ALWAYS Give other Agents the ‘Courtesy’ of Feedback – even if it’s a few days later – This will Build your Reputation and Respect. 8. If you are asking other agents or your Broker for advice – LISTEN – if you don’t agree – don’t argue, they have more experience – RESPECT that. 9. NEVER pull out a map (or GPS system) – it will not inspire TRUST from the Buyer that this is Your Territory – This is Key – I’ve referred many clients who called me after the first day they were assigned to an agent and they said “Don’t you have anybody who knows these areas with using a map or GPS system?” So of Course – the Buyer wanted to re-assigned re-read step 3) 10. Finally – give yourself 6 months to start making money – if you can’t support yourself after that – you’re doing something wrong ( re-read steps 1-9) Debbie Gartner | TheFlooringGirl.com Westchester, NY    1. Have a business plan. A true P&L that leads to the profit you need. Building blocks to reach that target and then break out by month and week. Be realistic and build in contingencies. Life happens. And, track it 2. Develop a niche and/or positioning (and target audience). It took me 3 years to develop “The Flooring Girl” positioning. And, wow, what a difference it made. I made it easy for my customers, realtors and other professionals to recommend me (and remember me…everyone loses business cards). If they put me into google, they found me And, of course, many of my customers love working with a woman-owned business, especially in construction which is dominated by men. It’s catchy and memorable. Things I wish I had done sooner: 1. Hired a virtual assistant or admin –It paid for itself instantly as it allowed me to focus on more productive activities. 2. Get set up on Quickbooks and get accounting help – don’t be penny wise pound foolish…it will cost you later. 3. Blogging –It has been a huge differentiator and represents 1/3 of my biz. Jeff Knox | KnoxRE.com Dallas, TX    If I had it to do over again, I would probably try and find a firm where I could get a good, successful mentor. You won't make the most money but you will gain some very valuable knowledge of the best ways to do things in the business and the right way to handle clients/problems. Jeff Knox is a Broker in the Dallas area with a focus on real estate & homes for sale in Plano Texas. Kevin Ramirez | NCHomeBuyers.Org Raleigh-Cary, NC    Thinking back on my first year full time in real estate, I made a lot of mistakes. If I could go back in time I would advise myself to take massive and consistent action every day to generate leads. At the time, I had a campaign or two ongoing but was not doing daily prospecting activities on top of that. Once i implemented daily lead prospecting activities into my daily actions, I saw a huge positive change and started gaining more momentum. I would definitely tell myself to figure out a way to systematize the everyday mundane tasks that must be done in order to make sure they actually get done on time every day Angela Duong | MADHomesUtah.com Tremonton, UT    I would like to first thank you for the opportunity to be included in your round-up. If I could go back to my first year in real estate, I would have told myself that real estate is not an easy business. You have to be diligent in advertising yourself to let people know you are in the business.  I would have made me a list of 100 people in my sphere of influence to market to. On top of that, I would have chosen a couple farm areas to market to on a regular basis.  I knew that I needed a website, but what I didn't do was customize it to the fullest. In fact, I am still a work in progress on that part. Blogging is a great way to get your website seen. Creating community pages (I am still working on this one) adds value to your website and makes you the go-to person in the area. One of the big things you have to know is that you will get a lot of "no's" for every "yes." When you begin your career in real estate, you have to be strong and not let the "no's" get you down.  Be strong, be persistent, show your knowledge to the community, and advertise the heck out of yourself and you will do great Xavier De Buck | NorthcliffRealEstate.com Northcliff, South Africa   Listen, Xavier, I know you’ll think I’m yet another real estate agent trying to tell you what to do as you get started with your 1st year in real estate, but believe me when I say your future self will thank you for having listened to AND followed these 2 basic, yet crucial tips of advice I’m about to give you: (1) Be very firm with your most important client (YOU) when it comes to continuously training your skill set, and (2) make sure you religiously time-block a couple of hours every day to make those valuable phone calls to previous, current and future clients. It may not produce any results right away, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised what the effects of following up with all your clients on your business will be Lynn Pineda | ImagineYourHouse.com Coral Springs, FL    I started out being driven to succeed. There’s not a whole lot I would have done differently other than starting my Real Estate career sooner in my life. But I did find the following suggestions to be beneficial. Don’t be a jack of all trades. Build a niche, and zero in on an area where you’d like to focus your Real Estate business. Let people know that you eat, sleep and breathe Real Estate. You can always add to your niche at a later point in your career. This also means that you need to focus on Real Estate and no other side job outside of Real Estate. Part-time doesn’t work in Real Estate. Focus on Real Estate and learn all that you can. It’s up to you to learn, it’s your business. Don’t rely on others to bring information to you. You want to cling to educating yourself.  Don’t assume you’re going to wing it. Playing with your customer’s well being isn’t an option.  Learn the steps that are required to sell a home. Learn the contracts. Learn the ropes. Don’t be afraid to ask a proven Real Estate Agent when you don’t know something. Ask questions. Seek out information over the internet, especially if your office doesn’t provide exceptional training as my Keller Williams office did. And lastly, get writing. A Real Estate blog is a must. And hopefully, you started early enough in your Real Estate business so you don’t have to wish as I had, that I had only started sooner in my life Ryan Fitzgerald | RaleighRealtyHomes.com Raleigh, NC    Looking back to my first year in Real Estate, the advice I would give myself as a new Real Estate Agent would be to trust your instincts. There are a lot of different ways to generate business whether that is leveraging your network, calling expireds and FSBOs, or even focusing on attracting leads vs. chasing them. It all depends on your personality and what you enjoy doing. For me, that was online marketing and generating leads through attraction vs. chasing. Additionally, you need to understand what your ultimate goals are as well as why you're doing what you're doing. This will impact your daily routine. Are you working for short-term goals or long-term goals? One..
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How to Obtain a Mortgage Chances are, if you are a first-time home buyer, you will most likely need to apply for a mortgage. In addition to finding the right mortgage, it is also important that you find a lender who will provide an interest rate and closing costs that won’t break the bank. Of course, it is difficult to have the perfect combination of all of these factors, but knowing how to obtain a mortgage and understanding your grant eligibility could help you save thousands of dollars in the long-term. We lay out some of the best strategies in purchasing a great mortgage . What are the steps involved in obtaining a mortgage? Find a Lender and Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage There is a difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved. Pre-qualification does not require a credit check and is simply a way of determining how much you can afford to spend per month on a mortgage. Pre-qualification is far less time intensive than pre-approval and is much easier to do. Pre-approval, on the other hand, is far more valuable because it involves having a lender run a full credit check and verify your documentation to provide a specific loan amount. Final loan approval doesn’t happen until after the appraisal on the property is complete and the loan is applied to the property. Obtaining a mortgage pre-approval letter will help you know how much you can afford to spend on a mortgage each month and indicates to sellers that you are serious about buying (and not just shopping around). Prior to even attending an open house, it is highly advisable to obtain mortgage pre-approval. If you are not happy with the lender you use during the pre-approval process, you do not have to use that same lender to obtain your mortgage. Have the following items ready to go prior to meeting with a lender for mortgage pre-approval: Pay stubs from the last 30-60 days Federal tax returns from the past two years W-2 forms from your employer from the past two years Proof of funds for down payment (i.e. a bank account statement) Statements from your checking, savings, and investment accounts from the past 60 days Landlord’s contact information (if you rented) from the past two years Real estate holding information, if applicable If the down payment is a gift from a family member, a letter will need to be provided stating the money is a gift and not a loan How to get a mortgage with a low or bad credit score? Check out these tips for securing a home loan Find the Home you Wish to Buy and Complete the Appraisal The appraisal is the lender’s way of assessing the market value of the home to ensure that it is worth the amount of money they are lending to you. The appraiser will typically review recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood, similar to the comp method your real estate agent used when determining how much you should offer for the home. If the appraisal is lower than what you intend to pay for the home, you may have to pay the difference, as lenders typically only pay what they believe the home is worth. For example, if the appraisal estimates that the home is worth $190,000 but you put in an offer to purchase the home for $210,000, you will most likely be responsible for paying the $20,000 difference. You can also challenge the appraisal by filing an appeal or you can order a second appraisal. Clear the Title and Close on the Property “Clearing the title” of the property means that you become the rightful owner. The lender will need proof of title and will ask for a title search, which means you will be responsible for paying a title company to search public records for any documentation that claims the property isn’t yours. The title search will also look for any existing liens, which are charges against the property that were never paid. For example, if a plumber completed work on the property several years ago but was never paid by the owner at the time, a lien might be placed against the property. When you purchase the property, you might be responsible for paying the lien. After the title has been cleared, you will meet with the seller, lender representative, and any other individuals who are involved in the process to sign the paperwork, transfer funds, and receive the keys to your new home. What should I expect to pay when buying a home in North Carolina? It is important to ensure that you can afford the monthly mortgage payment and various other costs that are involved in the homeownership process. Ensure that you have more than enough funds saved to cover the following expenses: Due Diligence: The due diligence period is the time in which the buyer pays the seller a non-refundable amount for a home inspection, termite report, and appraisal. On average, each inspection/report typically totals the following: Home Inspection: $400-$500 Termite Report: $75 Appraisal: $400 Repairs needed on the property will be negotiated between the buyer and seller on a case-by-case basis. During the due diligence period, the buyer will verify that the home appraises for the purchase price (or will decide if they still want to move forward with buying the home if it appraises below the purchase price number). Loan approval also takes place during the due diligence period. Earnest Money: Earnest money is how a buyer shows a seller that he/she is serious about purchasing a home. When the buyer signs the contract to buy the home, they will typically put down a deposit (called earnest money) that can total anywhere from $500 to $5,000. If the deal doesn’t end up going through for whatever reason, depending on how the contract is worded, the buyer will typically get their earnest money back. Earnest money is typically held in escrow by an independent third party, usually by a title company. It is important to note that if the buyer defaults on the contract, they can lose the earnest money. Defaulting on a contract typically happens when the buyer does not have the house inspected, surveyed, and appraised in the timeframe stated in the contract. It is imperative to have these items completed shortly after signing the contract to ensure that the earnest money is not forfeited. If the buyer decides to back out of the contract altogether and does not move forward with purchasing the home, they will lose the earnest money. If the buyer does move forward with buying the house, the funds given for due diligence and the earnest money will be credited towards the buyer’s closing costs and down payment at closing. Down Payment: The down payment amount is contingent on the loan type that the buyer secures. For example, USDA, VA, and FHA loans are appealing choices for first-time home buyers because they typically require very little or no money down. The standard down payment is typically 20 down, but there are a variety of options available to first-time home buyers such as only putting 5 or 10 down. Bear in mind that the less money the buyer puts down, the higher the monthly mortgage payment will be. Closing Costs: Closing costs are miscellaneous fees involved in the purchasing process such as: A fee paid to the lender for processing a loan Payment to the title company for handling paperwork A fee paid to the land surveyor and local government for recording the deed Closing costs typically total approximately 2 to 5 of the purchase price. There is no way of knowing exactly what the closing cost total will be, as the costs accumulate throughout the purchasing process. Is payment assistance available to first-time home buyers in North Carolina? North Carolina offers three first-time home buyer grants to assist in alleviating the purchase process: The NCHFA Down Payment Grant Program: For first-time home buyers obtaining an FHA loan or conventional loan, there is a grant option available, titled The NCHFA Down Payment Grant Program, that offers a 3 down payment grant, meaning that the borrower only needs to have .5 for the down payment. The NCHFA Down Payment Grant Program also offers a 3 down payment grant for conventional loans, meaning that the borrower only needs to cover their closing costs (which the seller is usually willing to assist in paying). These grant options also allow the down payment to be a gift from family, which is oftentimes not allowed with other loan programs. Another program option offers 5 back in down payment grants on Government Loans. NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment: First-time buyers, those who have not owned a home as their principal residence in the past three years, and military veterans may be eligible for the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment, which offers $8,000 that can be used towards the down payment. This is a limited offering, but it is available in every county in North Carolina. If the buyer is purchasing a home that is $260,000 or below, $8,000 can be given to providing assistance on the buyer’s down payment and closing costs. The guidelines are different than those explained in the 3 or 5 options listed above, but it can be applied to closing costs on a USDA Home Loan or a VA Loan. This program cannot be used in conjunction with the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit (MCC). NC Home Advantage Tax Credit: This option can save home buyers up to $2,000 per year on their federal tax liability. The buyer must obtain a Mortgage Credit Certificate. How do I apply for a grant? The first step in applying for a grant is to contact a qualified lender and complete a mortgage loan application. Your maximum income cannot exceed $87,500. After the lender obtains the necessary information from the loan application, they will ask the borrower for the following: Minimum credit score of 640. This is typically contingent on your average credit score. If you have three scores and two scores are above 640, you have a greater chance of being approved. If you have been renting or living with family for more than three years, you can qualify for a First Time Home Buyer Grant. After the lender determines that the applicant meets the qualifications listed above, they will determine which mortgage program works best and which grant they qualify for.   What can I do to prepare in advance when obtaining a mortgage? Calculate your income If you own your own company, the mortgage application process might be a bit more involved. Additionally, if you have a considerable amount of student loans, credit card debt, or auto loans, the mortgage amount you will qualify for will be limited. It is advisable to pay these loans down as much as possible prior to applying for a mortgage. If this isn’t possible, avoid applying for credit cards or taking any new loan payments on. At the very least, it is advisable to bring any credit card debts down to the lowest amount possible (or pay them off altogether). Review your credit score and credit history It is typically advisable to have a FICO credit score of at least 680, but preferably above 700. If your credit score is less than that, you will most likely pay a higher monthly mortgage rate and might have to have a cosigner, such as a parent or relative, sign the paperwork with you. If your credit is under 680, an FHA loan might be the best option. However, although these loans have lower down payments and allow lower credit scores, there are typically additional costs involved.  It is also important that you do not apply for anything that involves a credit check when preparing to submit a mortgage application. Even something as seemingly minimal as applying for a new cell phone plan can be a red flag to a mortgage lender and may require an explanation. Determine a healthy budget Calculate the total housing payment, including the monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance, and any additional fees (such as Homeowner’s Association fees, condo fees, etc., if applicable). The total payment should not exceed 30 of your pre-tax income. If you earn $90,000 a year in pre-tax income, your housing payment should not exceed $1,875 per month.   Save for the down payment Although this varies, the mortgage lender will most likely require that the buyer put down at least 10 percent (unless you are applying for an FHA loan or something similar). If you can afford a 20 percent down payment, you will avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender should you happen to foreclose on the property. Final Takeaways: When you begin your real estate search, it will be tempting to go over budget. Having a bigger backyard or that extra bedroom may seem appealing, but it is important to remain within (or under) budget. Although you may rationalize that the property will appreciate in value over time, remain conservative in your search to ensure you never miss a mortgage payment. If you have a relatively low or bad credit score or no credit history and are turned down, don't give up. Different mortgage lenders have different requirements. We had one client who asked 12 different mortgage companies for a loan before finally being granted a home loan Additionally, there is nothing wrong with taking extra time to shop around for the right lender. It is generally advisable to meet with two or three lenders and compare their rates prior to committing to one. Speak with family and friends and ask for recommendations on who they used in the past. Read reviews online and try to learn as much as you can about them prior to scheduling a meeting.  
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Selling my House in 2019 Predicting the future of the U.S. economy is tricky, if not impossible – particularly when it applies to the housing market. Before we get into the details, I will preface this post by saying this: if you are fully prepared to sell in 2019, I advise moving forward with the sales process prior to 2020. Why? Economists and real estate experts agree that the U.S. economy will most-likely encounter a recession in 2020, or maybe even as early as the end of 2019. Interest rates are also expected to rise. Some experts argue the crash will not come until 2024-2026, you don't want to be caught on the wrong side of a recession so don't get greedy if you're ready Fortunately, in my markets located in both Raleigh and Charlotte, NC we do not experience as volatile swings as places like Las Vegas and Atlanta. You'll want to really understand your market before diving into any decision. Of course, there is no guarantee that the recession will hit. But experts are increasingly pointing in that direction. According to billionaire investor Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, the likelihood that the U.S. will enter a recession before the 2020 presidential election is very strong. During an appearance at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, Dalio expressed that he believes the probability of a recession could be as high as 70 percent. So, you might ask the following: if I do feel fully-prepared to sell this year, what will that process look like? What should I expect? What steps do I need to take to sell my home? Below, I address some of the key factors you should look out for when preparing to sell your home this year. Fewer Buyers in the Market In 2018, I noticed a slowdown in growth and fewer buyers entering the market. I think that this trend will continue into 2019, which can be both good and bad for sellers. Here is the good news about having a smaller buyer’s market: the buyers who are active in the marketplace this year are very motivated to buy and, in effect, will have lower negotiating power. Therefore, you as the seller will probably be able to obtain a higher selling price. Interest Rates Buyers will most-likely feel the pressure of rising interest rates in 2019. This, in turn, will bring them to push the sales process along faster so that they can secure a mortgage before an interest rate spike. Interest rates have been an upward trend over the past year and will continue to push in that direction, incentivizing both buyers and sellers to move quickly. Interest rates are currently at their highest level since February 2011. Although the current rates aren’t monumental and are extremely low when compared to the historic high of 18 percent in 1981, there are projections that they will continue to increase throughout the next twelve months. Millennial Buyers 2019 is projected to see a higher number of millennial buyers than in years past. Millennials are now reaching the appropriate age to afford homes and will make up the larger share of home buyers. New Loan Processes With the influx of millennial home buyers in 2019 and with interest rates rising, more options are becoming available to first-time home buyers. Mortgage lenders are also coming up with new methods to streamline the application process for first-time home buyers and ensure their creditworthiness. With that in mind, should I hinge my decision to sell on the millennial market? Will millennials buy homes in 2019? I do not advise basing your decision to sell your home off of the millennial market. Most millennials are still attempting to manage the financial pressure of student loan debt, credit card debt, and more. Additionally, the millennial market oftentimes tends to favor independence over stability. In other words, they seem to lean toward renting vs. buying, which gives them flexibility and the option to move from city to city at will. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of late 2018, the homeownership rate was at 64.4 percent. This rise in homeownership is a plus for renters, as they will have a smaller number of fellow renters to compete with and will most likely have more bargaining power with regard to monthly rent, broker’s fees, amenities, concessions, and more. If you're currently a landlord considering selling your home, read this. The millennial generation is also more inclined to change jobs, or even shift their entire career path, far more than prior generations. It wasn’t uncommon for individuals in the 1970s or 1980s to spend twenty or thirty years working in the same office. Now, however, millennials are far more inclined to switch jobs after only two or three years. Many even choose to change their entire career path or may go back to school to secure a master’s degree when they reach their late twenties or early thirties. Millennials are also waiting until later in life to get married and have children which, in turn, oftentimes has a direct correlation on their decision to buy a home. With that being said, although I do not believe a home selling decision should be hinged on the millennial market, there will be heightened activity among millennial buyers and first-time homeowners in 2019. What are some other factors I should consider when selling my home in 2019? You may see strong return on investment if you purchased your home during the recession. If you purchased a home during the recession of 2008, you most likely had a very low interest rate. Even if you bought a home only a few years ago in 2015, you probably still benefited from lower home prices as the economy was still in recovery. If this applies to you, every mortgage payment you make increases your equity in the home. Additionally, if you have made any renovations to the home, you will most likely be able to sell your home for a considerably higher price. Take the factors mentioned here and combine them with the impending fear of an unstable economy and you most-likely will see considerable returns if you choose to sell your home this year. The more you net from the sale, the higher down payment you can put towards your next home, making you a more appealing prospective customer to lenders and increasing the likelihood that you will have a lower interest rate and smaller monthly payments. It is also less likely that your lender will require you to purchase private mortgage insurance, which is oftentimes required of first-time home buyers or buyers who cannot afford a large down payment. Carefully consider the timing of the sale Both buyers and sellers alike tend to favor the spring and summer months over the late fall/winter when it comes to purchasing a home. Moving into a new home is stressful enough, and having cold, snowy weather on moving day can be a nightmare. If you are fully prepared to sell your home, I recommend putting your home on the market now (in January/February/March) so that buyers can strike a deal in the spring or summer before the weather turns cold. If you live in a market where it is warm all year, the winter season will still affect home sales, particularly starting in October as individuals gear up for the hectic holiday season. If you receive an offer on your home in the spring, you will probably have greater inventory to choose from when you make your home purchase as well.  On the flip side, there are some benefits to shopping for a home in the off-season. Although the inventory may be lower and you will have fewer homes to choose from, you will most likely have a smaller number of buyers to compete with as well. Therefore, you might be able to strike a deal that you would not be able to secure otherwise. So, if your home still hasn’t sold by midway through 2019, don’t be alarmed. Although it is ideal to secure a new home before the potential recession in 2020, you should not make any hasty decisions. This brings us to our next topic: I can’t decide if l feel ready to sell yet. What should I do? If you aren’t fully prepared to sell your home and don’t have extenuating circumstances forcing a move, I recommend waiting a few years until you sell your home. The 18-year real estate market cycle is a real thing and if you're familiar with Fred Foldvary you know he called the 2008 recession and he's calling a 2026 recession. Or, if you have a strong financial cushion, renting out your home might be a smart decision. Although there are of course various risks involved with becoming a landlord, renting out your home at the right price could provide income towards your next home purchase. There are many factors and expenses you will want to consider when deciding if renting your home is the best option such as the home’s mortgage, if applicable (principal and interest); repairs and upgrades, taxes, homeowner’s association fees and management fees (if applicable), and various other miscellaneous expenses such as the fees involved with running a prospective tenant’s credit report, etc. Combine these expenses together and ensure that your tenant’s monthly rent exceeds that amount. Also, account for vacancies if it takes longer than anticipated to find a tenant and the home sits empty. Am I ready to sell my home? Consider the following factors carefully when considering whether or not you are prepared to sell your home. Do I have a real estate agent I trust? This will be especially applicable as we head into a rocky economic market in 2019. It is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable, trustworthy, and experienced agent by your side guiding you through your home selling process. Although not entirely necessary, it is an added plus if the agent successfully secured homes for clients during the recession of 2008 and has experience working in challenging economic climates. Although I, of course, do not believe that the potential downturn of 2020 will be anything close to what the U.S. experienced in 2008, it is always an added bonus to have someone by your side who has been through the market’s ups and downs. Take the time to interview multiple real estate agents and ask them various questions. If you feel strongly that they are competent, driven, and have your best interest at heart, then they will most likely set you up for success during the home selling process. I also strongly advise against trying to sell your home on your own during this impending volatile market, as you put yourself at risk for leaving a considerable amount of money on the closing table. Additionally, you will want an expert’s opinion when selling your home and will want the backing of someone who can guide you through the process. Am I prepared to put in the necessary work to make my home ready for buyers? In addition to being prepared to manually do some of the necessary work in your home, do you have enough money saved for repairs and maintenance while your home is on the market? Even seemingly small details such as putting new faucets on the bathroom sinks and putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls can go a long way. Doing some small necessary upgrades such as these will help the buyer envision themselves in your home and will put them at ease knowing that they have less to worry about when they move in. Here are some other factors to consider when deciding whether or not you are prepared to sell this year: Your family is growing If your family is growing – whether that be with children, pets, in-laws moving in, etc. – and you feel you might outgrow your home in the next five years, I recommend selling now. Selling in 2020 and 2021 during a down market, the presidential election and the pressure of a growing family could lead you to make some hasty, financially unwise decisions, and could lead to losing money in the long-term. You anticipate divorce or separation This is a tough one. It is of course oftentimes difficult or even impossible to know exactly which direction your relationship with your spouse might be heading. However, if you and your spouse have spoken seriously about the prospect of divorce or separation, it would be wise to sell your home now. Handling the stress of a divorce is a lot to take on, not to mention the legal fees involved, plus the added stress of trying to sell your home in a rocky economic market. These layers of stress can be otherwise avoided if proper preparations are put in place now. There is a chance your job will relocate you This is also frequently impossible to predict, but if your boss has mentioned the possibility that you might be relocated in the near future, I recommend having a serious conversation with your employer. Ask if the possibility of relocation will be definite and when you should expect the move to happen. This conversation may be awkward or premature, but it is necessary and highly advisable as we enter this potentially unstable market. With so many folks moving to our area we have had this often, on both the buying and selling side. Final takeaways Regardless of the economic market, I strongly believe that if you are not in a financial position to sell your home, the process should never be rushed. Selling your home is a major decision and one that should not be taken lightly. With that being said, if you are in a strong financial position and have put the proper preparations in place to sell your home, I recommend moving forward with the process in 2019 as opposed to 2020 or 2021. As interest rates increase throughout this year, homeowners may see an increase of $50 or even $100 per month in their mortgage payments. Although this may be a small amount to some, this will be very significant to others and may impede them from being able to afford their monthly mortgage payments down the line. Therefore, I urge you to take the necessary steps to set yourself up for financial success this year. Weigh your options carefully, speak with a real estate professional, and take careful inventory of your finances. I wish you the best of luck Oh, and for those of you buying a home in 2019 - we wrote about that too  
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Buying a Home in 2019 “Location, location, location” is one of the most heavily-used phrases when purchasing real estate. However, the timing of the purchase is arguably just as important as the location of the home you wish to buy. Timing your home purchase strategically can help you secure better value for your money and will prove to be a worthwhile investment in the long-run. According to a survey conducted by Pulsenomics LLC, the next expected recession might begin only one year from now – in the first few months of 2020. In the survey, Pulsenomics LLC spoke with more than 100 economists and real estate experts to learn their housing market predictions, including which factors might trigger a recession. Well over 50 percent of the economists and real estate experts surveyed feel that monetary policy will be the strongest trigger leading to a recession. They also feel strongly that the recession will most-likely hit in the first quarter of 2020 or sooner. Duke University, located in Durham, NC and the CFO Global Business Outlook conducted a separate survey, which ended December 7, 2018. The results indicated that nearly half of U.S. CFOs feel that the economy will enter a recession before 2020 – most-likely by the end of 2019. This survey, which is the longest-running and most comprehensive research on senior finance executives, has been conducted for 91 consecutive quarters throughout the world. They surveyed CFOs in a variety of industries, including media, technology, consulting, finance, insurance, manufacturing, transportation, construction, retail, and more. It is safe to say that the potential 2020 recession will not be nearly as severe as the economic downturn of 2008. During that time, 2008 was an “anything goes” lending market, where practically anyone could obtain a mortgage, even if they couldn’t afford the home. Today, under the Dodd-Frank Act, there are stricter regulations to ensure that that doesn’t happen again. With that being said, any decline in economic growth impacts the financial future of millions of people throughout the U.S. and, in turn, the housing market. So that leads us to the following question: With the potential onset of an economic recession, should I buy a home in 2019? The short answer is yes. A down market is a buyer’s market, so this could be the best time for you to buy, as there will be an increase in inventory and negotiating power and a decrease in sale prices. Whether we experience a recession in 2019 or in 2020 or not, you are only ready to buy if the following apply to you: Job security If you work in an industry that is particularly vulnerable to being unable to withstand an economic downturn, take the time to decide if you are truly prepared to buy a new home. If you are laid off shortly after purchasing a new home and cannot afford your monthly mortgage payments, foreclosure might be the only option available to you. Foreclosing on a home affects your credit for seven years, which is quite substantial. Carefully consider what could happen to your finances if the market turns sour. Can you still afford the home while searching for a new job, even if the job search takes six months or a year? If you own your own company, do you have a strong and steady client base who will continue to utilize your company if the market takes a turn? You have more than one year in savings You should have enough cash in the bank to make at least one year of mortgage payments. This is the absolute minimum As mentioned in the previous paragraph, if you happen to lose your job, it is imperative that you have enough savings in the bank to continue to make your monthly mortgage payments for at least a year or more, as this will hopefully be the maximum amount of time it will take to find a new position. You are willing to buy modestly Do not attempt to live above your means as we head into this potentially rocky market in 2019. Although the gorgeous 6-bedroom home might be the house you have always dreamed of, a 4-bedroom home with a lower monthly mortgage amount and smaller down payment will probably be a wiser decision. Try to buy a home that is well below your budget so that you have a healthy cushion should the economy take a turn for the worse. Don’t buy a home in need of multiple repairs This will become especially applicable going into the potential recession, as foreclosures and short sales become increasingly prevalent. If you are aware of several repairs and problems with the home you wish to buy, take careful inventory of all projected costs involved down the line. What will buying a home look like during this year’s prospective economic downturn? It is easy to feel discouraged during the onset of a potential economic downturn, but some factors may work in your favor. In 2008, the housing market was the primary cause of the economic collapse. In late 2019 or early 2020, the housing market most-likely will not be the cause of the recession. However, this economic downturn will still have a strong impact on the real estate market. A weakened economy brings on an increase in job loss and a softer housing market as a result. This will most likely be felt by certain parts of the country more than others. An additional Zillow study that surveyed over 100 economists and real estate experts in early August of 2018 revealed that the cities that will be the most heavily affected include Miami, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and San Diego. Localized regional housing markets should expect to feel the effects of the recession as well. How could cities as popular as Seattle and San Francisco with booming housing markets experience a downturn, you might ask? There has been a major increase in construction over the past several years in large, popular cities. With increased inventory back to the same level it was at in 2012, pricing comes under pressure, as higher inventory leads to lower rent prices. Hot property markets such as those listed in the previous paragraph will eventually see a decrease in prices as buyer’s fatigue sets in. The positive side of buying during an impending recession: Quick Sales Process A down market brings more short sales and foreclosures. Therefore, the sales process will most-likely move along quickly, as sellers will probably want to sell as soon as possible before facing foreclosure. As a result, a closing turnaround could be much faster for buyers during this time. Negotiating Power In 2019, I anticipate seeing an increase in the number of sellers who can no longer afford their mortgages and need to sell quickly. There are some sellers who might even face bankruptcy if they do not sell their homes quickly. With this level of urgency from sellers, buyers have more leverage with negotiating a lower sale price. However, as you will see below, negotiating power could also be limited during an economic downturn. The negative side of buying during an impending recession: Financial Risk If you purchase a short-sale or foreclosed home, the home is being sold “as-is,” meaning that any repairs or problems that come up will become an out-of-pocket expense covered by you as the buyer. Therefore, you run the risk of potentially losing more money in the long-term if the home needs extensive repair and maintenance. Conduct thorough research of properties that have closed in the area beforehand to ensure that you aren’t paying more than others have historically paid for homes in that area and to ensure you are getting the very best price. Competition with Investors   If a homeowner wants to sell their home quickly, they will probably be more inclined to sell to an all-cash investor who could get them out of the property in a few short weeks as opposed to waiting on a buyer who needs to obtain lender approval. Now that I understand the pros and cons of the potential economic downturn in 2019, what are some other factors I should keep in mind when preparing for home ownership? Thoroughly research the area where you wish to buy This is particularly applicable if you wish to purchase in an area close to the cities economists predict will be the most heavily affected by the economic downturn: Miami, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and San Diego. In North Carolina, cities like Raleigh and Cary do a great job managing a downturn in the real estate market because of their economic growth. Speak with your real estate agent extensively about the neighborhoods in which you wish to live and thoroughly review the area’s historical sale prices, trends, average rents, and more with your agent. How much home can you afford? Have a definitive bedroom and bath count in mind when you begin your home search, as this will be one of the first questions your real estate agent will ask you. When making this decision, I recommend taking the time to know the true number of bedrooms you will need to live comfortably instead of dwelling on what you would ideally like to have. Living in a large home with sprawling space is tempting, but if you cannot make the mortgage payments each month, that home becomes a major financial burden. Speak with your friends and family to get an accurate assessment of how many homes you really do need and try to work within your means. If you cannot afford a home that you will be comfortable and happy living in, I highly recommend waiting to buy. Purchasing a home you are unhappy living in will most-likely propel you to want to sell the home before you can make any money off of it, making it a poor investment. Bear in mind that, in the short-term, buying a home is typically more expensive than renting. Therefore, selling a home too soon could potentially mean taking a loss. This will also come into play if you foresee potentially getting relocated through your job or other factors in the next few years. Although buying a home in 2019 might be tempting, especially with the onset of decreased prices and rising inventory, if you believe it will be a possibility that you will need to sell your home within the next few years and you won’t make any money off of the investment, I strongly urge you to wait to buy so that you will not find yourself at a loss. Review your credit When applying for a mortgage, lenders will carefully review your credit history, credit score, and the debt-to-income ratio (which includes student loans, credit card debt, auto loans, and any other debt you have incurred). These factors will play a major role in determining whether or not you will be approved for a loan. You don’t need to have a perfect credit score to get approved for a loan, but if there are improvements to be made, I highly recommend taking the necessary steps to increase your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage. Additionally, if your credit isn’t quite where you want it to be or you don’t think you will get approved for a loan, I recommend waiting to buy a home – recession or not. To improve your credit score, try to pay off any remaining balances on your credit cards. It is important that you do not make any major credit purchases when applying for a loan, as lenders will take this into account as well. Just to put credit scores into perspective when applying for a mortgage, a conventional loan typically requires that borrowers have a minimum credit score of 620 and a minimum FICO score of 580 for an FHA loan, according to The Lenders Network. Is your budget where you want it to be? The more money you can put towards the down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage rates will be. Although 20 percent has traditionally been the required down payment amount needed for a mortgage, some lenders will accept down payments of 15 percent, 5 percent, or even 3 percent. This is especially applicable for first-time homebuyers. Veterans Affairs (VA) loans will even allow current or former members of the military to put zero percent down on their mortgage. Bear in mind that the less money you put towards your down payment, the more likely it will be required that you purchase mortgage insurance – as buyers who have minimal down payments could be more likely to default on a mortgage and are riskier for a lender to take on. Mortgage insurance will vary based on your financial history and mortgage program you choose. Final takeaways It is always difficult to properly predict the future of the economy, despite what economists, real estate experts, and others may say. The timing of the purchase is imperative, but it is also very important to have job security, a healthy financial cushion, and strong credit when considering a home purchase – especially as a first-time home buyer. It is wise to be well-aware of economic projections and to have a thorough understanding of what that will mean for you as a home buyer. The economy is beyond your control, but your financial wellness and home buying choices are well within your power.
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"Once a seller accepts my offer, what happens next?" This is a common question from buyers after they go under contract on a home in Raleigh. After a buyer's offer is accepted you'll want to visit the home numerous times before closing day. This includes meeting there with your Real Estate Agent, Inspectors, Contractors, Appraisers, and more. You'll also want to make sure you schedule a final walk through which your Realtor will set up. For those of you buying a home this Fall, be sure you know what to expect when you're under contract Please feel free to share this article with those you think will benefit Without further ado, here is... 10 Things that come Once an Offer is Accepted   Call your Real Estate Team The seller just accepted your offer and you're officially under contract. So what's the next thing you do? There's probably an urge to post something on Facebook or another social media platform. STOP Do not do that just yet because there are many things that can go wrong in a real estate transaction. If you start posting on social media you put added pressure on yourself to close the deal. Our recommendation at Raleigh Realty is to tell your immediate family and some close friends, just be careful about sharing it with the world. You need to connect with your real estate team and let them know you're now under contract. This will get the wheels turning. Your Real Estate Agent will be able to walk you through the process of who you need to contact. Set the dates and times with your team (including closing and inspection dates). There are a lot of people on your home buying team you should be prepared to hire. Depending on what part of the country you're buying a home in your real estate team is likely to include different players. Here in Raleigh, when you buy a home your team is likely to include: Realtor Lender Inspectors (You will likely have more than one) Attorney Insurance Agent Contractors There is a lot more to your real estate team that happens behind the scene, these are people you’re likely to never see and probably won’t ever hear from. Once the Lender, Inspector, Attorney and Insurance Agent are aware of the fact you’re under contract they can begin putting together everything you need. You may want to connect with Contractors if you’re looking for some estimates. This will give you an idea of what the cost is to do things like add hardwood floors, or another bathroom. Earnest and DD Money to Real Estate Agent ASAP If there is due diligence and earnest money that will need to be given to your Realtor as soon as possible. You may not have this in your contract if you do it needs to be delivered immediately. Failure to deliver the funds promptly may result in a breach of contract. The due diligence money is funds that allow you the opportunity to inspect the property once your offer is accepted. Your real estate team will include inspectors of all sorts, the captain of this team is your home inspector. You’ll have an opportunity to inspect for pests, and hazardous items as well inside the house (jump to inspections). Your due diligence money is good for a certain timeframe that you agreed to with the seller, and you will have the opportunity to ask for an extension should you require one. Make sure your lender can get the home appraised in this time period (see appraisals) You would hate to find out the home appraised significantly below sale price after your due diligence period is over. Once the due diligence period is over earnest money goes hard. The likelihood of closing is much greater once the Due Diligence period is over and you’ve made your request for repairs (see repairs). Send your Lender Documents ASAP Your lender is going to need to clear you to close. In order to do this a lot needs to happen. There is a list of things they are going to need from you and you need to make every effort to send those documents to them as soon as possible. Once your offer is accepted, there is still a lot of work you need to take care of and it’s mostly with the financing portion. Your lender will require items like W2’s and other identifiable tax related information as they will need to verify your income. The list of items needs to be delivered to your lender as soon as possible or you will risk not being able to close on time. It’s a wise idea to connect both your Realtor and Lender early on so they can work together and help you. Set a Closing Date with your Attorney In Raleigh, there is a specific closing date in the contract. This is not the case for other places in the country. For instance, New York has an ‘on or about’ closing date that drives both buyers and sellers crazy with uncertainty. As a buyer, you always have the opportunity to amend the contract, and the seller can accept or decline proposed changes. One of our homes for sale in Cary was lost specifically because the buyers picked a closing date that was just too far out for the seller. You’ll want to make sure you schedule the closing early enough so that the attorney you want to work with has time on that day. It’s a great idea to connect your Real Estate Agent to your Lender and Attorney so they can work together. Your attorney will need their forms filled out to prepare your closing. Time for a House Inspection When you’re buying a home you’ll want to inspect the property for any and all things that could be wrong with it. Some of the main items you’ll want to be on the lookout for include issues with the: Foundation, roof, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Make sure you have a home inspector you like and schedule the appointment as soon as possible to ensure they have time to properly inspect your home. There are certain issues that arise on a home inspection often, and there are others you’ll want to make sure don’t appear Make sure you set your expectation that the home inspector you hire will be able to find problems with the house. You will want to strongly consider adding pest inspectors and other specialists to your team before your due diligence period ends. Your Home Appraisal Ensure your lender is going to have your home appraised during the due diligence period otherwise you may find out it doesn’t appraise and forking over your earnest money. Once a seller accepts your offer they want the deal to go through just as much as you do, so they’re pretty open to extensions should you need to request a due diligence extension for your appraisal. Having your home appraised is part of what ensures the money the bank is giving you is enough so that they can recoup most of it should you stop paying your mortgage. A home appraisal is the bank’s way of figuring out if the amount of money they are lending to you is more or less than the value of your home, and that you are not over-paying for something. A lot of Real Estate Agent’s will tell you that you can’t overpay for a home because the bank appraises it. There is some truth to this, though it’s safe to say it isn’t 100 accurate. You have options when the home doesn't appraise and a chance to negotiate a better price. We have seen homes appraise for a lot less than they should, while also seeing homes appraise for more than their market value. Due Diligence Repairs Request Once you have the reports back from all of the inspectors you have the opportunity to negotiate repairs with the seller. Some sellers are more than willing to make repairs while others will deny your request. Of all the deals that go under contract, this is where a lot of them can be lost. Buyers and Sellers need to understand each other’s position and whether or not it makes sense to continue with the sale based on the repair requests. More often than not there will be a mutual resolution during these due diligence repair negotiations. Sometimes the seller will make the necessary repairs or provide the buyer with a financial concession at closing so that they can make them with their own contractors. When I bought my home in Raleigh there were several problems that needed to be addressed before it made sense to buy the house and the seller agreed. It was a mutual agreement between the seller and I to replace the HVAC as well as a few other items before continuing with the sale. Both parties were happy and that’s what matters most in a real estate deal. Home Insurance Home insurance is an important step in buying a home. You’ll want to be sure to find an insurance agent you like and that your insurance plan covers everything that you want it to. For my home, I found the best coverage and plan with Amica. The plans are typically based a number of different factors so you’ll want to be sure you check in with a few different home insurance agents. A lot of buyers choose the first one only to realize later they spent a couple hundred dollars more than they needed to Always compare quotes whether it's a Lender, Realtor, Attorney, Contractor, Inspector, etc. Turn Utilities on in the Home One of the last things you’ll do a handful of days before you move in is set up your utilities. You can contact the listing agent to see who the seller’s current providers are so that you can either remain with them or switch to someone you like. You’ll want to turn on things like electricity, gas, water, cable, internet, phone, etc. That way when you move into your new home you’re ready to go. The final step is moving in, you may want to hire a moving company to help you move all of your stuff. There are many problems that can occur with moving companies so be sure to avoid all of them that you can Close and Move Into your New Home Congratulations, this is the fun part It’s time to move into your new house and you can finally relax after unpacking. It took an army to make it happen, and you should be proud. You’re probably exhausted after the home buying process. It can definitely take a lot of work, and it’s all worth it Some of the final items you’ll need to take care of is an address change. You’ll want to be sure all of your mail is now coming to your new address. It’s also a great opportunity to meet your new neighbors When you see them outside don’t be afraid to wave, and follow that up by walking over and introducing yourself. Most people form great relationships with their neighbor’s right off the bat. It’s an awesome opportunity to meet others in the neighborhood as well through your direct neighbors After Your Home Offer is Accepted: Aside from the obvious decorating and furnishing your new house, you'll want to be sure you let everyone know you have changed your address. You can do so on the United States Postal Service website here. This will forward your mail to your new location. You'll want to let work know as well as the bank that you've changed your address. If you're going to plan a housewarming party you may want to give yourself a few weeks to really settle in first. It can take that long to really 'move-in' to a new place. There will always be little things to do the first few weeks after moving in whether that's mounting the tv to the wall or placing pictures around the house. If you're still searching for one, we are here to help you find it
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11 Qualities of a Great Neighbor Jump to our infographic below Being a Realtor in Raleigh, North Carolina, I am constantly hearing from both buyers and sellers about the behaviors of their neighbor's, good or bad. Whether you live in a city apartment or a house in the country, there are many ways to be a great neighbor. Even small, simple gestures can go a long way. Below, I have laid out some strategies I find most helpful when implementing best neighborly practices. 1. Respect Boundaries Respecting neighborhood boundaries is quite possibly one of the most important practices to implement. Even doing a seemingly good deed, such as mowing part of your neighbor’s lawn that is closest to your home’s boundary line, is not an acceptable practice. Although this may seem like a good idea, crossing boundary lines and changing their property in any way is a neighborly offense.  2. Keep Community Areas Clean If you live in an apartment building with common areas such as fitness rooms, lounge areas, etc., be sure to clean up after using the space. If there is a playground or other area that is shared by you and your neighbors, do not litter and always keep the area extra clean. Your neighbors will remember if you don’t 3. Don’t get too Wild with the Holiday Décor Decorating for the holidays can be a lot of fun, but keep your neighbors in mind if you think your decorations might be a little out of hand. For example, if you have a blow-up snowman in your front yard that flashes lights throughout the night, consider turning off the lights after 6 or 7 pm so that you won’t keep your neighbors up at night. 4. Keep the Parties to a Minimum This is especially applicable if you live in an apartment building. Entertaining is a lot of fun, but I advise keeping the parties to a minimum. If you are going to have a large group of guests over, speak with the residents on your floor and the neighbors who live in the unit below you a few days prior to the party letting them know that you will be having some friends over. Assure them that the music will not be loud and that your friends will be respectful. And, while you’re at it, invite your neighbors to come by 5. Bring a Gift If you have just moved into the neighborhood, consider stopping by your neighbor’s house with a small gift, such as a candle or potted plant. I don’t advise bringing food items since allergies are so prevalent. Small gifts go a long way, even if it's just a nice hand written letter introducing yourself as a new neighbor it will be appreciated. 6. Exchange Contact Information When bringing over a gift, try to exchange contact information so that you can be on the lookout for one another should something go wrong. If you look out your window and notice something that doesn’t seem right, such as a water leak, etc., you will want to have a method of contacting them to let them know if they’re not home. 7. Don’t be ‘The Nosy Neighbor’ Most communities have at least one person who is always ahead of the neighborhood gossip. If you think you may have met that person, try not to ask them questions about other neighbors or engage in local gossip. You don’t want to become known as the Nosy Neighbor’s Sidekick 8. Help Before You’re Asked This is especially applicable if you have older neighbors. If you notice that they are trying to do yard work and are struggling with carrying items across their lawn, offer to lend them a hand. It goes a long way. Other neighbors will take notice of your behavior and it will become contagious. Give without expectation and it will become contagious among the neighborhood. 9. Keep your Home’s Exterior Clean This includes your lawn, front porch, sidewalk, driveway, etc. If you notice that your home’s façade is beginning to look a bit run-down, consider applying a fresh coat of paint. Keep trash receptacles out of sight and try to keep lawn and porch items to a minimum. If you live in an apartment building, try to keep umbrellas, shoes, and other items inside your apartment rather than on the outside doorstep. If you have just trekked through a rainstorm and don’t want your shoes and umbrellas dripping all over your apartment, keep the items on your doorstep for an hour or so until they’ve dried and then bring them inside. Don’t leave them out there for days 10. Mow the Lawn If you live in a particularly rainy climate, try to stick to mowing your lawn once a week or every two weeks. Try to be on top of maintaining weeds and overgrown trees/shrubs in your yard as well. 11. Start a Neighborhood Newsletter, Email Chain or Facebook Group If your neighbors are open to it, start a neighborhood newsletter together or an email chain where you can share tips and tricks, local knowledge, or any other trending information happening in your area. This is a great way to bring your community together and help everyone get to know one another.
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