Friday, February 26, 2010

New Posterous Account

I just discovered Posterous. I set up a new account and then I can post one status update and it will post to all of my social networks at once. Pretty cool.

Posted via web from teresabutler's posterous

New Posterous Account

I just discovered Posterous. I set up and account and I can make one status update here and it will update all my social networks at once. Pretty Cool.

Posted via web from teresabutler's posterous

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Picking the Perfect Neighborhood

Community
Check out the local markets, parks, shops, restaurants and community events. Attending events will allow you to get a feel for the area and your potential neighbors. Ask store owners and community members what they love about the neighborhood.

Crime

Check with the local police department or state Web site for crime statistics in the area. Sites like Family Watch Dog and Spot Crime are great places to start.

Transportation

Consider how you will get around. Is there public transportation? Do most people drive? Is it safe to ride a bike? How far will your commute be to work? Time it during rush hour to make sure. What about grocery stores, restaurants, malls, pharmacies and doctor's offices? You may not want to drive 20 minutes for a loaf of bread or to refill your prescription.

Schools

Research the local school districts. Are public and private schools available? Do they offer extra curricular activities? What is the cost per student? If your child will ride a bus, how long will it take to reach school grounds?

Traffic and Noise

Walk around the community at different times of the day as well as during the evening. Are there railroads, airports or entertainment establishments around? Where are the highways located? Have sound barriers been constructed?

These are all important aspects of a neighborhood to consider. Ask for information from your professionally certified Realtor®, and use the internet as a resource. Your Realtor® should be able to give you great insight into the area, and provide you with the tools you need to make your decision.
Photo ©Teresa Butler 2010. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Easy ways to stage your home for sale
(ARA) - You've made the decision to sell your home. But before you put the "for sale" sign in the yard, make sure it's ready to make a good impression on prospective buyers and clearly stands out among the many other homes on the market.

There are many easy and inexpensive ways to clearly differentiate your home so that it appeals to a wide range of buyers ... and in return, yields a fast and profitable sale.

To begin, purge. Nothing makes a home look smaller than cluttered countertops, cupboards and closets. Plus, buyers want to envision a home with their own possessions - not yours. As you start cleaning, sort items in three categories: donate, sell or keep. Soon, your home will look neater and you may add some cash to your wallet or gain a tax write-off.

Next, consider tackling projects that are easy, fast and inexpensive - but will significantly boost your home's appeal. Magazines are a great source of inspiration, and brands such as Krylon even have Web sites (http://beamoverandshaker.com/) that offer practical advice and dozens of projects specifically designed to stage your home for sale.

Some indoor and outdoor projects that are quick, inexpensive and guaranteed to get your home noticed include:

Focal point finishes

Lighting fixtures are the focal point of many rooms - but replacing them can cost hundreds of dollars. With a little elbow grease, $20 and less than two hours, you can update your existing ones with a new, more attractive and popular stainless steel finish.

Directions: Cover your work area with newspaper and disassemble the fixture. Clean the pieces and tape off areas that don't need to be painted. Following the instructions, apply indoor/outdoor primer followed by the new metallic paint. Once dry, remove the tape and reassemble the chandelier.

Cover the smallest details

When sprucing up your home for sale, sometimes it's the small details that can make the biggest impact. Painting dull, dirty or chipped register covers or light switch plates can give any room a quick pick-me-up, in less than an hour.

Directions: Remove register covers or light switch plates and place them on newspaper. Sand the surface lightly and wipe clean. Clean all pieces to remove any built up dust and grime. Following instructions, apply a number of light coats of primer, followed by a couple coats of gloss or metallic spray paint. Once dry, reinstall and enjoy.

Illuminate the exterior

Exterior lighting showcases the beauty of your home, so make sure that your light fixtures are just as attractive. Update faded, rusty or outdated finishes with a fresh new finish for a minimal price and maximum impact.

Directions: Turn off power to the lights and detach the fixture from the house. Remove the light bulb and mask off any parts that should not be painted - including wires. Place the fixture on newspaper and lightly sand. Clean all pieces and wipe dry. Following the directions on the can, spray several light coats of Krylon's Outdoor Spaces Metallic Finish. Make sure to evenly apply paint to the entire fixture. Once paint is completely dry, reattach the parts, reconnect the lightning fixture and turn the power back on.

Freshen up with flowers

The right landscaping and use of plants and flowers can greatly improve your home's curb appeal for prospective buyers. Brightening up your flower boxes is a quick and easy way to add some color to the front of your home in just a few hours.

Directions: Place a clean flower box on newspaper, sand the exterior to create a smooth surface. Apply several light coats of indoor/outdoor primer to help ward off drips. Next, apply a few coats of indoor/outdoor paint in your favorite color. Once dry, the box is ready to display your favorite flowers.

Whether you're prepping your house for sale or fixing up your new home, you'll find dozens of fast and easy projects at beamoverandshaker.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent Photo ©Teresa Butler 2010. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

6 Surprising Facts About the Buyer Tax Credit

The homebuyer tax credit is not as simple or straightforward as you might think. Here are some nuances that will affect homebuyers who plan to use it.

*To qualify for the move-up tax credit, a home owner must have occupied the same principal residence for five of the last eight years consecutively.

*Buyers can elect to claim the credit on either their 2009 or their 2010 tax return, whichever is best for them. Buyers who claim the credit in 2009 can’t file electronically because the Internal Revenue Service hasn’t put the required forms on line. The wait for a refund is three or four months.

*The home can be a mobile home or travel trailer that is fixed to land owned or leased by the home owner. A mobile home or travel trailer that is actually mobile doesn’t qualify.

*The home can’t be purchased from a close relative, including a parent, spouse, child, grandparent or grandchild.

*A buyer who earns no taxable income or doesn’t owe any federal income tax can qualify for the tax credit and file a tax return just to claim it.

Source: Bankrate.com, Marcie Geffner (01/21/2010)
Housing Components Don't Last Forever

Many aspects of a home last little more than a decade. Home buyers should be especially vigilant about inspecting these household components because they have a relatively short lifespan, says the National Association of Home Builders.

Aluminum roof coating: 3-7 years
Enameled steel sinks: 5-7 years
Security systems: 5-10 years
Carpet: 8-10 years
Smoke detectors: fewer than 10 years
Faucets: 10-15 years
Garage door openers:10-15 years
Air conditioners: 10-15 years
Asphalt: 12-15 years
Termite-proofing during construction: 12 years

Source: Bankrate.com, Marcie Geffner (01/22/2010) Photo ©Teresa Butler 2010. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

White House Lost Value in 2009

The estimated value of the White House has dropped 5.1 percent—from $308 million to $292.5 million—in the last year, according to real estate Web site Zillow.

Homes across the United States declined in value by about 5 percent, so the 132-room mansion is following the national trend. The 5.1 percent decrease in the value of the White House is an improvement over its 7.2 percent decrease in 2008; and the nationwide 5 percent drop is a major improvement over the 11.9 percent average decrease in 2008. The White House, designed by an Irish architect and built in 1792, totals 55,000 square feet and sits on 18 acres.

Source: CNN.Com (1/21/09)
10 Inexpensive Ways to Wow Buyers

Now is the time for home owners contemplating a spring sale to spruce up their properties in anticipation of what Mike Larson of Weiss Research calls a potentially vibrant home-selling season. "If you have been beating your head against a wall, this is going to feel a lot better,” he says.Here are 10 cheap ways to make a property more attractive to shoppers:
Improve first impressions. Touch up the paint on the front door and other areas that buyers see first.

Clean up the landscaping. Trim the hedges and trees and plant some annuals in the flowerbeds.

Paint the interior. A coat of light yellow or cream with contrasting white woodwork looks fresh and clean.

Refurbish the floors. Buff the hardwoods. Install new carpets – or at least get them professionally cleaned.

Take care of the big problems. If the house needs a roof or the front stoop is crumbling, get them fixed.

Buy warranties. Putting appliances under warranty gives homebuyers a secure feeling.

Improve energy efficiency. New windows or improved insulation tells a potential buyer the seller is on top of things plus they come with tax benefits.

Replace light fixtures. Updated fixtures, especially at the entrance way and in the foyer, create a good first impression.

Buy a stove. Home owners whose kitchen isn’t top of the line can jazz it up for a few hundred dollars by buying a new stove, which gives the room a fresh feel.

Tidy up the bathrooms. Get rid of mildew, replace caulking, and replace stained sinks.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, Luke Mullins (01/21/2010) Photo ©Teresa Butler 2010. All rights reserved.
Secure a Lender Quickly for Tax Credit

Home buyers who are eager to close the deal before the tax credit expires should be prepared to deal only with lenders who will respond to the need for speed.

Even buyers without A-plus credit should be able to get a loan. "If you go to enough lenders, you can typically get a loan even with a low credit score. The terms, of course, are not as attractive," says Spencer Rascoff, chief operating officer of Zillow.com.

Another possibility is to propose a lease-purchase deal or land contract to the seller. If the deal is structured properly, both buyer and seller could walk away winners.

Source: CNNMoney.com, Jean Chatzky (02/15/2010)