"HOUSE" Tips & Market News
Volume Four | Issue Four
WELCOME TO AUTUMN!
We made it! It was a long, hot summer, but we all survived. Granted, our summers can be hot, but we do enjoy four distinct seasons, and we're sure you're looking forward to, as we are, to a nice, long Autumn. Following are a few things to consider whether a seasoned homeowner or just starting. As always, thanks for reading our newsletter - we hope you enjoy it!
Diane & Jeff
LOVE YOUR HOME
Remember that moment you first laid eyes on your home? How you swooned over those soaring ceilings and gleaming hardwood floors? And what about the stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen that left you utterly smitten? So you made an offer that was accepted. A few months later you moved in, giddy. Every morning you woke up and smiled, pinching yourself for being so lucky to have found a home you love so much.
But then the honeymoon ended. The kitchen, which seemed so spacious at one time, now feels cramped. You pine for two sinks in your master bath rather than one. The relationship between you and your home is somewhat of a love affair. Here are a couple of tips for keeping your relationship with your home happy and healthy.
Give It Time
Having a little buyer’s remorse after a home purchase is natural, especially during the first year or so. That’s because it takes time to make a house into a home. One key way to do that is to put your personal stamp on it. You've heard us say, "Look for a home that's at least 80% what you want - the remaining 20% is what you'll do to it to make it truly yours." It may be time to start working on that 20% so your home is better suited to your personal tastes. Also, you don't need to tackle all of your projects at one time. Simply starting a project usually breathes new live into your relationship with your home.
It's About Making It Yours
If you do decide to do the work and put your stamp on a home, don’t be led astray too much by the return on investment—in other words, how much resale value your upgrades will bring once you sell your home. Sure, it’s important, but if you plan to live there for at least five years, fads will change by then, so rather than chase these trends, just do what will make you happy. And do realize that putting $50,000 into your home doesn't necessarily increase its value by that amount. The truth is, it probably doesn't. It's important that your improvements are primarily for you and not for a distant, future buyer with one caveat: Improvements that are too "creative" (a sunken Jacuzzi in the family room?) can be a liability when it' comes time to sell. Listen to your instincts and fall in love with your home all over again.
ARE HOME WARRANTIES WORTH IT?
Lots of things you buy come with a warranty in case they break down, from cars to smartphones. But what about homes? Yes, you can get a home warranty, too.
So what is a home warranty, anyway? In a nutshell, it’s a policy you pay for that covers the cost of repairing many of your home appliances if they break down.
We encourage new homeowners to buy a home warranty right when they close on a home, since such protections can provide some much-needed peace of mind that you won’t get hit with unexpected expenses soon after moving in.
What does a home warranty cover?
Don’t mistake a home warranty for homeowners insurance, which covers your home’s structure and belongings in the event of a fire, storm, flood, or other accident. A home warranty, in comparison, will cover repairs and replacements on systems and appliances due to normal wear and tear—no calamities required. A home warranty generally covers these items:
- Electrical systems
- Plumbing systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Washer and dryer
- Kitchen appliances such as the oven, range, and garbage disposal.
Benefits for home buyers and sellers
A home warranty benefits home buyers by providing reassurance that they can move in without worrying about shelling out even more for surprise repairs.
A home warranty can also benefit home sellers (if they don’t have it already), since it can cover these elements during the listing period; some companies even offer free seller’s coverage during this time with the hopes that the buyer will decide to continue the coverage. Oftentimes, home sellers will offer to pay for the first year of a buyer’s home warranty to entice buyers to bite.
But not everyone thinks home warranties are worth the cost. Typically they aren’t necessary with new homes, since most of the appliances are already covered under manufacturers’ warranties. But in general, the older your home, the greater the odds are that something’s bound to break, and the wiser it is to get a home warranty. Best of all? Many companies don’t differentiate between newer and older homes in terms of cost, making a warranty an especially cost-effective option if you are purchasing an older home.
How much does a home warranty cost?
While home buyers are often required to get homeowners insurance along with their mortgage, home warranties are a fully optional purchase. Basic coverage starts at about $400 and goes up for more comprehensive plans. A homeowner can add extras if needed, such as coverage for a swimming pool or an external well. Although many companies offer home warranties to homeowners at any point, the best deals can often be snagged if purchased at the same time you buy the home. The warranty plans offered at the time of the real estate transaction typically offer the most comprehensive coverage and price points, so that’s why it’s the ideal time to lock it in. We always recommend a home warranty for at least the first year. At the end of the first year, you usually have the option to renew your plan or cancel.
What to do if something breaks
If something covered under your home warranty breaks, you just call your provider and it will connect you with a qualified contractor in your area. One thing to remember is that a home warranty does not mean you’re off scot-free; typically you’ll have to pay for a service call or a certain amount of the bill up to your deductible first. While not everyone will think a home warranty is worth it, it is a good idea for people who lean toward the “better safe than sorry” approach when buying a home.
11 ESSENTIAL THINGS EVERY HOMEOWNER SHOULD HAVE
Whether it’s the need to hang a clock just a few feet higher or the realization that you really can’t hold a flashlight and get that nut loosened under the sink, there’s always something catching you by surprise as a homeowner. With the right items on hand, however, you can be prepared for most every scenario. Do yourself a favor by stocking your home with the following items, and you’ll be ready for every home ownership challenge.
#1: Wet-Dry Vacuum
You’re going to be spilling stuff. Look for a wet-dry vacuum that can handle everything from paint to nails and small stones. Plus, they're great for vacuuming the family car.
#2: (The Right) Fire Extinguisher
Unlike the wet-dry vacuum, it's one of those things you'll hopefully never need. However, if you do need one, you're going to need it quickly!
But before going out and buying the first extinguisher you see, check out the U.S. Fire Administration’s guide. There are five different types of fire extinguishers with different uses, from extinguishing cooking oils to wood and paper. Choose the best type or types for your home.
#4: Big-Kid Tools
Odds are you already own a bunch of the basics: drill, screwdriver, hammer, level, tape measure, wrench, pliers, staple gun, utility knife, etc. But homeownership may require a few new ones you might not have needed before, including a:
Stud finder. You can make as many holes in the walls as you want now. Use the stud finder to figure out where to hang those heavy shelves so they’re safely anchored.
Hand saw. Much easier (and cheaper!) than a power saw, you can get a good cross-cut saw for smooth edges on small DIY projects.
Ratchet set. Every bolt in your new house belongs to you, so you’d better be able to loosen and tighten them when needed. Crank that ratchet to get to spots where you can’t turn a wrench all the way around. Great for when you’re stuck in a corner.
Pry bar. Get one with a clawed end to pull nails and a flat end to separate drywall, remove trim or molding, and separate tile.
#5: Tool Bucket/Belt
You’ll need something to carry all those tools around from project to project. Create a tool carrier using a tool bucket liner and an old 5-gallon bucket. Or invest in a handyman belt filled with the basics to keep on hand.
Take that flashlight out of your mouth and work hands-free. From switching out a faucet to figuring out what’s making that clicking noise behind the washer, there are plenty of homeowner tasks that require both hands and a little artificial light.
#7: Emergency Preparedness Kit
FEMA has a great list of supplies you should have in your kit, including cash, food, water, infant formula and diapers, medications, a flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, matches, sleeping bags, and a change of clothing. The agency recommends you stock enough for every member of your household, including pets, for at least 72 hours.
#8: Battery-Powered Lantern
You never know when the power's going to go out. Be prepared with a battery-powered lantern - one with replaceable batteries are one that's rechargeable. Just remember to make sure to routinely check that both are fully charged
#9: Escape Ladder
Not a concern if your home is single story. However, if you live in a two-story home, make sure you can escape the second story. The Red Cross recommends them for all sleeping areas in multistory homes.
#10: Tape Measure
Trust us... you're gonna need one.
Especially for first-time home buyers. You’re inheriting the responsibilities a landlord would have if you were renting. Mowing isn’t a big deal, but maybe fixing a shingle or changing a faucet is. But with a little self-confidence — and some YouTube tutorials — there’s (almost) no DIY project you can’t master!
Rates continue to be stable and they remain historically low. Average rates for the fourth quarter 2017 are:
Conventional 30-Year: 4.250%
Conventional 15-Year: 3.875%
As always, rates vary with lenders and many factors affect rates. The above rates are not guaranteed and your rate may vary. Contact your lender today to discuss your real estate needs. Don't have a lender? No problem... send us an email and we'll be happy to provide you with recommendations.
We're NEVER too busy for your referrals. Please share our contact information with family, friends, colleagues, and coworkers. Or, feel free to provide us with their information… We'll be more than happy to contact them directly and provide them the same great service all of our clients receive (and deserve!). ~ Diane & Jeff
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