Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Look inside your living room

Your living room could be decorated with styles from around the world!

American Country

It's all about comfort. Go with the each house, cozy lodge or country farm look. In true country style, choose cowhide furniture, a soft, fluffy rug and rustic wall d├ęcor.

Asian Allure

Use rich red and gold colors. Look for luxurious, satin fabrics. A low, dark coffee table will complement neutral walls and a bright area rug.

Italian Contemporary

Decorate with rectangular, leather couches, white carpet or wood floors, bold-colored rugs, neutral-colored walls and minimal accents. Mirrors make great decorations, too.

Traditional English

Classic is always in. Floral-patterned chairs sit by fancy end tables in dark wood. Fill walls and cabinets with personal treasures and antiques.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Personal Finance: Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

(ARA) - Selling a home can be a daunting task for any homeowner, and in a “buyer’s market” the process can feel overwhelming. While many sellers think that homebuyers have the upper hand, with a little patience and a few helpful tips from GMAC Real Estate, you can successfully sell your home.

* The Price Is Right

The number one factor in the sale of your home and one of the most critical elements of the sales process is setting the asking price. While you want to get the most appreciation from the sale of your home, you also want to be realistic when setting your price.

“Sellers need to work with an experienced real estate professional who can help them establish a realistic value and price for their home”, said Lane Barnett, president and CEO of GMAC Real Estate Franchise Operations. “Setting a price that is unrealistic and too high can reduce agent and buyer interest, and can make other competing homes look like a better value.”

On the flip side, it’s critical to not underprice your home when looking to sell. Your real estate agent will research and provide you with data on current market conditions in your area.

* Remodel
Remodeling is a great way to increase your home’s value in a more challenging market. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom generally offers the highest percentage return on your initial investment according to numerous industry surveys. Another rule of thumb is to decorate your home so it appeals to the broadest number of potential buyers. Buyers generally prefer neutral, mainstream designs, so avoid bold colors or patterns or out of date designs that can make it harder to sell. New paint, a nicely mowed lawn and attractive landscaping can go a long way in enhancing your home's curb appeal.

* Identify Potential Problems

Hire a home inspector to help you identify any potential problems before you put your house on the market. Also, make sure your home complies with all local housing codes.

* Presentation Is Key

The presentation of your home when you are listing it plays an important role in attracting a buyer. As with choosing an asking price, look at the condition of your home through a buyer’s perspective. “Sellers need to understand the importance of how their home looks to prospective buyers and really need to put themselves into the shoes of the buying public,” said Barnett. “Potential buyers will examine every nook and cranny of your house as they begin to think about making a purchase.”

* Overall Marketing

Your real estate agent will prepare your listing for the multiple listing service as well as create an advertisement for the Internet and any materials that will be made available to those who visit your house. More and more, the first impression of your home that many potential buyers have comes from it being seen by buyers using the Internet. It is important to offer a wide variety of photos of both the inside and outside of your home. 360 degree virtual tours of your home are another popular choice to consider. Also, the description of your house needs to be accurate and complete to grab the attention of the potential homebuyer.

When selling your home, remember that an experienced real estate professional can not only help you sell your home for the highest price, but also in the shortest time. Your agent should serve as your trusted advisor, your skilled negotiator and your marketing coordinator every step of the way. From pricing to closing day, these professionals can make you a pro at selling in a buyer’s market.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Basics of Home Inspections

If you're thinking of buying a home this summer, it's important to protect yourself and your investment with a home inspection. A professional assessment by a reputable home inspector will uncover any problems, and alert you to any necessary repairs and updates.

When writing an offer to purchase, you will want to include a request for inspection. I can change your offer to include that request. Once you go into contract, you will have the opportunity to bring in an inspector of your choosing. But if you don't have anyone in mind, I can provide you with a list of qualified inspectors.

An inspection will cost you several hundred dollars, so it is important that you are comfortable and confident with your inspector. Choose an inspector who can provide proof of qualifications such as certifications and memberships to home inspection organizations.

When interviewing inspectors, ask questions about him or her and the inspection itself. Examples of good questions include: What does the inspection cover? How much will it cost? Does he or she have references? How long has the inspector been in the business and how many homes has he or she inspected?

Depending on the size of the home, an inspection can last about two to four hours. The inspector should closely evaluate the siding, foundations, exterior brick, insulation, doors and windows, roof, ceilings, walls, moldings, porch, deck, electrical outlets, plumbing, water heater, furnace, air conditioning, garage, basement, septic tanks, driveways and sidewalks. Upon completion, you and I will receive a copy of the review. Remember that it is very normal to have a few small issues that need attention or repair. I can help you decide which, if any, of the repairs to ask the seller to handle or pay for, and which to handle yourself.

A home inspection not only identifies immediate needs, but it can also make you aware of any future maintenance issues. However, even after a home inspection is completed, it is still important to purchase a home warranty.

Contact me for more real estate advice

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Look inside your kitchen

Your kitchen is a central place for the family to meet. According to feng shui, it also gives the whole house and family energy and vitality. Here are some quick tips for bringing your kitchen to life the feng shui way.

.Gather fresh flowers, and put them in a vase between your stove and refrigerator. If flowers are too expensive, use bamboo instead..Place a large bowl of fruit in the middle of the table or the counter. This represents wealth and bounty.

.Be fresh and natural. Create your own herb garden in the kitchen.

.Have the windows open as much as possible. Keep the blinds and curtains drawn during the day to let in the sunlight.

.Stay reenergized by hanging a crystal from your kitchen window. It will catch the sun's rays and produce a beautiful colored light show.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Choose the Right Paint Color

Choosing the right paint color means more than sorting through a few sample strips at the hardware store. Here are some tips to help you choose the right color:

Be patient. Paint is available in an infinite array of colors, and is the most versatile element of your room. Get ideas, but make the final decision after rugs, wallpaper and fabrics are finalized.
Study the colors. You'll find clues about the underlying tones of different shades of a color on a full sample strip of coordinated colors. Decide if the family of colors is the direction you're headed with your color selection.

Trim it out. Choosing an off-white or white shade for moldings, doors and windows is normally the standard choice. Consider a pale shade of color to coordinate with the walls. For a really striking look, try lighter walls and dark tones or bright colors for the trim.
Keep notes as you shop. It's a good idea to make a note on the back of the paint color cards, telling yourself the name of the store where you picked it up, and the paint brand whenever this information isn't printed there already.

Shed a little light. To get a true view of a paint color, try to look at it in many lights. Take the paint chip outside to see it in natural light. Look at it under an incandescent and fluorescent light.

Ask for help. For helpful paint advice, go both online or visit your local paint store. Tell the paint professional about the goals for your decorating project. Ask which paint products they recommend, and why.

For more home-owning tips, contact me today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hold an Open House — Let Your Buyer Find You

Here are some tips when holding your open house:
Meet and discuss everything with me before hand. I will give you all the details involved in holding an open house. Let me take you through your home the day before the open house and give you suggestions and directions.Make plans so I am the one showing the home. You want your visitors to feel comfortable making comments, or even criticizing your home. If you absolutely must stay in the home, be sure to keep a low profile.Leave some snacks or treats for visitors. It's a nice touch that helps increase the comfort level associated with your home.Find somewhere else to place your pets when holding an open house. Some prospective buyers may be allergic or afraid of your animals. They can also be a distraction to showing the features of your home.

For more home-buying or selling advice, contact me today.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Set the Stage for a Quick Home Resale

(ARA) - In this buyer’s market, how do you make your home stand out in a sea of “For Sale” signs? According to the International Association of Home Stagers, investing in small improvements that make your home look more inviting and appealing to prospective buyers can increase its ultimate sale price by 7 percent and make it move up to 100 days faster.

Experts say that it’s the little touches -- like a fresh coat of paint, updated window coverings or a new floor -- that make all the difference. And since the decision to purchase a home often is made within eight seconds of walking in the front door, it’s crucial that spaces where the eye automatically rests (such as walls, windows and floors) are impeccable.

Follow these quick and simple tips from the experts to increase your home’s chances of selling sooner rather than later:

Lighten Up

Light is the second most cited reason -- behind location -- for a buyer to choose a property. One easy way to illuminate your home’s interior is through paint. Neutrals always make a safe choice, but nothing says sunshine and warmth like yellow. While this shade won’t work for every area, it can be beautifully incorporated into public spaces like living and dining rooms.

According to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints (maker of the Glidden brand), yellow has the natural ability to elevate our mood and make us think of opportunities and possibilities. Richardson suggests pairing yellow hues with complementary shades of blue-violet on a home’s walls to make the color truly sing.

Combined with dark woods or white accents, the color takes on a classic look and adds a sunny disposition to an interior. And for an even quicker way to inject a touch of vibrancy to any room, Richardson recommends yellow accessories -- such as pillows, artwork, rugs and vases.

Create a Clearer View

Prospective buyers are curious to know how a new home will change their perspective on the world. Don’t obscure the view of a beautiful natural landscape or a charming street with heavy curtains. Consider replacing draperies with sheer or solar shades. For instance, LightWeaves from Graber allow light to be filtered and diffused, while maintaining a clear view to the outside and reducing glare on television and computer screens.

And once you’ve installed shades that let the sun shine in, don’t forget to make sure all of your windows are sparkling and dust free prior to an open house. It also helps to add a breath of fresh air and reduce stuffiness by opening up windows an hour before visitors are expected to arrive.

Put Your Foot Down

Scuffs, stains and scratches under foot can make a home appear older and unkempt. Cover worn carpet and torn vinyl with laminate flooring. According to Don Cybalski director of design for Pergo, laminate is inexpensive, durable and easy to install in just a weekend. Not only does it closely replicate the look of real woods -- from cherry to oak to maple, and even the hottest exotics like merbau, jatoba and bamboo -- but it also maintains a “like new” appearance for longer. Laminate is guaranteed to effectively stand up to the wear and tear of hundreds of footsteps that may track through your home while it’s on the market.

For more information on home staging, visit http://www.iashp.com/.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Columbus Ohio ranks as one the most stable housing markets
A new report from Standard & Poors released in late June touted Columbus Ohio as one of the major metros with the least risk of price decline by 2009. Read the story published yesterday on MSN.

Home Prices Expected to Recover in 2008 As Inventories DeclineNAR’s July 11 news release forecasting better days yet in 2007. Read the release.

Interest rates are still competitive, inventory is great –- Now is the time to buy!
One Mistake You Don't Want to Make When Buying a Home

Don't make a major purchase.

So you’ve found your next dream home and the seller accepted your offer to purchase. The home is officially under contract, you're counting down the days to closing, and you’ve been pre-approved by the lender. The house is yours for sure, right? Well … not so fast. Nothing is certain in the home-buying process until the keys are in your hand. There are still hurdles to jump before it's yours, and your actions from start to closing can create slowdowns and even halt the sale. So through my next several posts, I’ll be listing the top five things not to do before closing on a home. Here’s No. 1: 1. Don't make a major purchase. While you might be imagining a new car to fit nicely in your garage, hold off. If you’re depending on a mortgage to move in, it’d be smart to wait until after closing for that car. An increase in your debt-to-income ratio reduces the amount of monthly income available for your mortgage payment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Look inside your garage

Your garage door gives your house personality. Not only does it have curb appeal, it also adds value to your home. There are dozens of styles available. You can buy a pre-made door or customize your own!

.The carriage house style gives a traditional horse and buggy feel to your home, with swinging doors. It looks fantastic on older, more traditional houses.

.You may also try an English manor style. These beautiful doors give the illusion of sliding doors of the past, yet they open like a regular overhead door.

.Do you have a new, chic home or need an update? Modern, aluminum styles are very trendy right now. The panels can be tinted, frosted or mirrored glass.

You can even get a customized entry door to match your garage door. Who knew?!Remember, the more fab you add, the pricier the door becomes.
Last Week in the News

U.S. mortgage applications rose 1.1% for the week ended July 6, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported July 11. Applications were 10.5% above their year-ago level.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on July 11 that it expects existing-home sales to rise to nearly 6.4 million units in 2008, up from the 2007 estimate of more than 6.1 million. Nearly 6.5 million existing homes were sold in 2006, NAR said.
As for new homes, NAR projected sales of 865,000 in 2007, and 878,000 next year, but the 2008 projection would still be down more than 20% compared with the nearly 1.1 million new homes sold in 2006.

Consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 6.4% in May, far above the small 1.1% gain in April and double what analysts had forecast, the Federal Reserve reported July 9. According to David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, some of the credit card surge reflects the fact that tightening bank standards are making home equity loans harder to obtain and home values are not soaring as they did during the housing boom.

Addressing a National Bureau of Economic Research conference on July 10, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted that Americans' expectations about inflation play an important role for Federal Reserve policy makers in their efforts to tame inflation. His talk dimmed hopes for a reduction in the Fed's key interest rate, which has held steady at 5.25% for just over a year.

This week look for updates on the Producer Price Index on July 17 and the Consumer Price Index on July 18.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look inside your color scheme

Your wall color might be dictating your mood!

The easiest on the eye. It's relaxing and peaceful-that's why most hospitals use it.

Luxurious and calming-a great bedroom color.

Cool and tranquil-perfect for most rooms in your home.

Known to cause fatigue. Some sports coaches paint the opposing team's locker rooms pink!

Incites anger in adults and makes babies cry more often than other colored rooms, according to studies.

Energizing and warming, but it's best used as an accent color.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Look inside your home fragrance

Incense sticks

To use, set the coated end on fire until it glows. Then extinguish the flame so that the incense continues to glow and smoke. Soon, your home will be filled with your favorite aroma.

Want to set a mood?

For a calming effect, use sandalwood. Feeling tired? Try lavender or rosemary. Woke up feeling irritable today? Use ocean or spring-scented incense.


They make the perfect decoration for any room in your home and generate a great aroma. Trim the wick to 1/4 inch. Remove the wick trimmings. Extinguish a candle when the wick is one inch from the bottom.

Air fresheners

There are a variety of scented sprays and electric plug-in air fresheners on the market. Sprays generally don't last very long, while scented oils and plug-ins last longer.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Last Week in the News

The nation's service economy expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in June, as the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on July 5 that its index of business activity in the non-manufacturing sector registered 60.7, topping May's reading of 59.7 and Wall Street's forecast of 58.1. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 signals contraction. The June reading was the highest since April 2006, when it hit 61.1.

Output at U.S. factories, plants and utilities also expanded in June, the ISM reported July 2. The ISM's manufacturing index rose to 56 in June, above the May reading of 55, and higher than the market expectation of 55.4. The reading marked the fifth consecutive month of growth for the manufacturing sector.

Late payments on home equity loans -- payments that are 30 days or more past due -- rose to 2.15% in the first quarter of this year, up sharply from 1.92% in the final quarter of 2006, the American Bankers Association (ABA) reported July 3. On a brighter note, the ABA also reported that late payments on credit card bills dropped to 4.41% in the first quarter, down from 4.56% in the fourth quarter of 2006, the best showing in nearly a year.

The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a one-month low, Freddie Mac said July 5. Rates have ebbed in recent weeks as investors' fears concerning inflation have eased.
This week look for updates on the trade balance on July 12 and retail sales on July 13.

July Home Maintenance Checklist

Going on vacation? Before packing your bags this July, examine key areas of your home for damage or safety concerns so you can rest easy while enjoying your summer getaway:

- Examine your basement, attic and other small spaces for summer pest infestation.

-Inspect all window and door locks to assure safety.

-Check your home for any water leaks or water damage.

-Inspect and maintain your air conditioning unit and replace filters.

-Keep your lawn green by watering efficiently.