Household Budget & Money Saving Tips

Running a household is an expensive affair, but there are lots of things that you can do to minimize the costs. Lowering your expenses helps you stay within your budget and save for goals like buying a house or adding to your retirement income. Here are eight ways to reduce household expenses.

Bundle Your Services
Have internet, phone, and cable service? Move all of your accounts to one provider, and you could save $20 or more per month. Ask your current providers about bundling offers or visit ​allconnect.com to determine which company is offering the best service bundle in your area, then make the switch and save.
Cut Back on Extras
Do you really need unlimited data on your phone? How about the premium cable or satellite package that you subscribe to? Are you subscribed to multiple streaming services? You could alternate between them instead so you’re only subscribed to one or two at a time. Examine your list of monthly expenses, and determine what you can live without.
Clip Coupons and Shop Sales
Groceries can take a big bite out of a budget, but they don’t have to take a big bite out of yours. To reign in your grocery spending, start clipping coupons and shopping sales. If you’re a first-time couponer, you could save 15% or more. With time, that could increase to as much as 50%. Keep in mind that couponing only makes sense for items you would buy anyway. If you’re buying items you don’t usually shop for, it defeats the purpose.
Most retailers have sales periodically, but some sales are predictable. For example, summer clothes tend to go on sale by August to make room for fall items. Black Friday through Cyber Monday tends to be a good time to buy electronics.
Slash Your Insurance Premiums
Insurance is essential but costly. Shop around for a better auto insurance rate and you may shave hundreds of dollars off of your current premium. Can’t find a better rate? Talk to your current provider to see if there are discounts that you are missing out on. For example, they may offer a discount for having multiple policies, a ​good student discount, and/or a good driver discount. For even more savings, consider increasing your deductible or canceling comprehensive and collision coverage on older vehicles. If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, be sure to review those policies as well.
Get Energy Smart
Do you dread opening your utility bills each month? If so, there’s a lot that you can do to reduce your bill.
  • Install a smart thermostat and set it to run less when no one is home
  • Turn off lights when they aren’t in use
  • Wash your laundry in cold water
  • Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater
  • Only buy ​Energy Star appliances

Start looking around, and you’ll find many ways to reduce your energy consumption and energy bills.

Seek Cheap Thrills
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun, so examine your entertainment spending and see if there are places where you can make cuts. Could you stream movies instead of seeing them in the theater? Enjoy free concerts instead of paid concerts? Check out books at the library instead of buying them? Go on a picnic instead of eating out? Challenge yourself to have more fun for less money—every little bit adds up.
Pay Your Bills on Time
In the habit of paying your bills late? If so, you’re probably paying more than you need to. Start paying your bills on time and say goodbye to late fees and rate hikes.
One option for ensuring your bills are paid on time is using autopay. If your budget is too tight for autopay, consider using calendar reminders to prompt you to pay your bills. If you have access to bill pay through your bank, consider setting it up to make paying bills faster and easier.
Learn How to Do More Yourself
Develop your DIY skills so you can keep your home well maintained without all those pricey service calls. Consider learning tasks like handling clogs, lawn care, painting interior and exterior walls and more.
If home cooking isn’t your thing, consider learning. Try one or two simple recipes per week to build up your skills and confidence.

Functional Spaces at Home

10 Ways to Make a Room More Functional

  1. Maximize vertical space
    Take advantage of wall height by adding tall bookcases, cabinets or shelves, or by hanging hooks for jackets in the hallway, separate office or study, add a desk in a corner of a bedroom or living room, preferably under a window to take advantage of the natural light and to keep your back turned from distractions like the TV and bed.
  2. Keep traffic paths clear
    Avoid bumping into furniture by creating an efficient layout. Make direct paths to commonly used zones and leave enough space to manoeuvre around each piece of furniture. 
  3. Control clutter
    Get rid of items you no longer need or use, deal with paperwork as it comes in, file important items in labelled folders or boxes, and return everything to its original place when you’re done with it.
  4. Add storage
    Store like items – such as cleaning products or bathroom supplies – in labelled boxes or plastic bins. For particularly unkempt areas, purchase storage options like an over-the-door rack to get shoes off the floor, or a closet-size second shelving unit to stash seasonal clothing.
  5. Create a nook
    If you don’t have the luxury of a separate office or study, add a desk in a corner of a bedroom or living room, preferably under a window to take advantage of the natural light and to keep your back turned from distractions like the TV and bed. 
  6. Use a room for what it’s intended
    Keep the children’s toys in their bedrooms or playroom and out of the living room, do paperwork or homework in a home office or den – not the dining room – and move all of your craft or woodworking projects out of the kitchen and down into the basement or crafts room.
  7. Store items in the rooms in which they’re used
    Keep table linens in the dining room, books and magazines in the den, dish towels in the kitchen, and detergent in the laundry room.
  8. Purchase double-duty furnishings
    Select pieces that are versatile, such as a coffee table with a shelf for magazines and books, a lighting for reading, eating or writing, and for setting the mood.
  9. Have multiple table surfaces
    Rather than having to get out of your chair every time you want a sip of coffee, make sure that there are enough surfaces within arm’s reach of living room seating to hold items such as drinks, books, table lamps and reading glasses.
  10. Purchase efficient lighting
    Ensure that your space has table lamps, floor lamps and other lighting for reading, eating or writing, and for setting the mood.

Thanks for reading!

Questions To Ask When Buying Homeowners Insurance

For many homebuyers, property insurance is a detail, a box to be checked off on the way to closing. But details are important and missteps can be expensive. Purchasing insurance may not be as fun as choosing new furniture and paint colors, but it’s a critical part of the homebuying process. Your homeowners insurance policy is a financial safety net in case of a disaster, so you’ll want to ask a few important questions to make sure you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

What’s the dwelling coverage per square foot?

Imagine that a fire burned your house to the ground and your policy didn’t pay out enough to rebuild it. That could happen if your dwelling coverage – the part of your policy that covers the structure of your home – is too low.

To prevent this, don’t simply accept the initial dwelling coverage amount an insurance company recommends. “Insurance companies use replacement cost calculators, but they’re not 100% accurate by any means,” says Ryan Andrew, president of The Andrew Agency, an independent insurance agency serving Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

For a more accurate estimate, ask your insurer to send someone to your house for a replacement evaluation, suggests Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a nonprofit that advocates for insurance consumers. You can also ask a local builder who specializes in new construction to estimate your home’s rebuilding cost per square foot.

Once you’ve chosen an appropriate dwelling limit, consider adding extended replacement cost coverage to your policy. With this coverage, your insurer will pay 10% to 50% more than your dwelling coverage amount to help you rebuild. This could save you thousands of dollars if building prices spike for unforeseen reasons such as a lumber shortage or high demand after a disaster.

A typically pricier option, guaranteed replacement cost coverage, will pay to rebuild your home regardless of expense.

Do I have multiple deductibles?

Homeowners may not realize that on some policies, higher deductibles may apply for claims due to wind, hail, named storms or other disasters.

For example, say a hurricane causes wind damage to your roof. Your insurance policy might have a wind deductible worth 5% of your dwelling coverage rather than the $1,000 deductible that applies to most other claims, Andrew says. So if your house were covered for $250,000, you’d have to pay for the first $12,500 of damage before your insurer paid anything.

Getting quotes from multiple insurers may help you reduce or eliminate these high deductibles.

What isn’t covered?

You might be unpleasantly surprised by your policy’s exclusions. “Flood insurance, which is excluded on almost all homeowners policies, is definitely a big one,” Andrew says, adding that this is especially important for homeowners with finished basements.

Even houses that aren’t near a body of water could experience flooding during heavy downpours, Andrew says, and a standard homeowners policy is unlikely to cover any damage.

You can buy flood insurance through companies that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. The program’s average flood claim payout was $52,000 in 2019.

Andrew also suggests adding water backup coverage to your policy. This pays for damage due to water backing up into your house from sewer lines, sump pumps or other water lines.

Another common coverage gap involves keeping up with current building laws. “If you have to make improvements when you’re repairing or replacing (your home) because the codes have changed since your house was built, a typical policy will exclude that,” Bach says. Though this can be particularly expensive for older homes, “even a house that was built five years ago is out of code,” Andrew says.

Both Bach and Andrew recommend adding ordinance or law coverage to your policy to handle these expenses.

How can I save?

While having the right coverage is generally more important than paying the bare minimum, there are discounts to make your policy more affordable. Andrew suggests buying your car, homeowners and other insurance through the same company to take advantage of bundling discounts, which can save you 20% or more.

“The best way to bring down the price without sacrificing coverage is to raise your deductible,” Bach says. Being willing to pay for smaller repairs yourself rather than filing claims will help keep your premiums low.

If you’re confused about coverage and discounts, reach out to an insurance agent to talk through your options. “Take a little extra time to understand what it is that you’re purchasing,” Andrew says. “For most people a house is the most expensive asset they have.”

Hey, Buyers: These Home Appraisal Tips Are for You

Most people have deeply personal reasons for wanting to buy a home. Maybe it’s the bathroom that feels like a dreamy, modern spa. Or that two-tiered deck just made for parties.

Your lender doesn’t care about the freestanding tub. Or the built-in outdoor fire pit. Their only concern is that the house you buy is worth as much as the value of your mortgage.

To them, a house isn’t a home. It’s collateral. (Harsh, but true.) If someday, for some reason, you can’t make your mortgage payments, the lender can foreclose on the home and sell it to recoup all or some of its costs. (Even harsher, but also true.)

For that reason, a home must be valued at, or above, the agreed-upon purchase price, and this has to happen before you can close on a house. That’s where a home appraiser comes in. 

A Home Appraiser Is Neutral (Like Switzerland)

After you sign a home purchase agreement (the contract between you and the seller about the terms of the pending sale), and before your lender approves your loan, the home you’re buying must pass an appraisal — an assessment of the property’s value by an unbiased third party: the appraiser.

An appraiser is a state-licensed or -certified professional. Their job is to assess an opinion of value — how much a house is worth. The appraiser is on no one’s side. They don’t represent you or the seller; instead, this person is a contractor chosen by your lender through an appraisal management company (AMC), a separate, neutral entity that maintains a roster of appraisers.

Appraisers survey a house in person, using five main criteria to determine the value of a home:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Additions or renovations
  • Recent sales of comparable homes

Be Prepared to Pay for the Appraisal — or to Negotiate

Generally speaking, the home buyer is responsible for paying for the appraisal — and the fee is typically wrapped into your closing costs. However, who pays for appraisal is negotiable. It never hurts to see if the seller is willing to cover it.

How much money are we talking about? The average professional home appraisal will run between $287 and $373, according to estimates by the home-professionals resource HomeAdvisor.com. Costs can vary depending on the square footage and quirks of the house, with higher appraisal prices for larger or more unique homes.

Appraisals Take a While, So Be Patient

Typically, a purchase agreement has a “home appraisal contingency” requiring that the appraisal be completed within 14 days of the sales contract being signed. Because it takes appraisers some time to visit your house and write a report — up to a week, or longer in a busy housing market — your lender will order the appraisal immediately after you sign the purchase agreement.

So, You Have a Valuation. Here’s What It Means — and What to Do Next

When the appraisal is finished, the appraiser issues a written report with his or her opinion of the value of the home. To produce the report, they use their analysis of the property and data from comparable homes, as well as review the purchase offer. The report will outline their methodology and also include photographs that they’ve taken of the property, inside and out.

You and your lender will both receive a copy of the report. Three things could happen next: 

  1. If the appraiser’s valuation matches the price you and the seller agreed to for the home: Your lender will proceed to underwrite your loan. Great news: This is the final step in your loan-getting process!
  2. If the appraiser’s valuation is higher than what you’re paying for the home:Congratulations! You’ve gained immediate equity. How, you ask? Let’s say, for example, you’re paying $200,000 for the house. If the appraiser says it’s worth $250,000 — jackpot. That’s an instant $50,000 in equity. (Keep in mind, this is very rare.)
  3. If the appraisal is lower than what you’ve agreed to pay for the home: Your lender won’t give you a loan for more than the appraised value. If you and the seller agreed on $200,000, for example, but the appraisal is $190,000, that creates a $10,000 shortfall. So what happens next?

Don’t despair — not yet. If you’re faced with a low appraisal, there are several ways the deal can still go through.

If an Appraisal Is Low, You Can Still Make It Work

Before we talk strategy, some reasons why appraisals come in lower than expected:

  • The seller overvalued the price of the home. 
  • The appraiser isn’t familiar with the neighborhood.
  • The appraiser overlooked pending sales data.
  • The appraiser had trouble finding comparable homes, or missed comparable homes, so they compared your home with properties outside the neighborhood.
  • Home prices in the area are changing so fast that the listing agent’s price no longer reflects the market.
  • The appraiser rushed the job.

If the appraisal comes in low, your agent will offer recommendations about how to proceed. In general, your best strategy is to persuade the seller to lower the sales price, or to split the difference between the home’s appraised value and the price with you. This is when you can rely on your agent — and their negotiating skills — to go to bat for you.

You can also appeal the appraisal assessment. You’ll work with your agent to research comparable homes that support the sales price you agreed upon with the seller and present this information to your lender, who will forward it to the appraiser for a re-evaluation of the home’s value. Ultimately, though, it’s up to the appraiser to decide whether to revise their valuation of the property.

Alternately, you can ask your lender for a second appraisal, though there are caveats:

  • You’ll have to pay for it out of pocket (or persuade the seller to foot the bill).
  • You’re more likely able to challenge an appraisal for a conventional loan than a government loan. And you’d need solid facts to back it up in either case.
  • There’s no guarantee that it will be higher and meet the sales price.

The last option: You can come up with the cash yourself to cover the difference between the home’s price and the appraised value. 

If you don’t want to take that route (and who could blame you?), a purchase agreement’s home appraisal contingency gives you the ability to walk away from the deal scot-free, and with your earnest money deposit in hand.

Let’s assume it all works out. With the appraisal behind you, you’ll be one step closer to closing on that house.

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

You’ll go through many emotions while having a home inspection conducted. Excitement for hopefully buying/selling your home, nervous that something will be wrong, or feeling your patience thinning out as you wonder how long this process will take. However, a home inspection is an important part of the home buying/selling process, so we’re going to go through it with you.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails. 

An inspection is all about lists. 

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value. 

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold 
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks — to:

  1. Identify problems with the house that he or she can see
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Prepare a written report, usually with photos, noting observed defects

This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can look for professional inspectors at their trade association websites. The American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood. You can also search for inspectors by state at InterNACHI.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here. 
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? Home inspection costs range from $260 to $399. The costs vary according to your location and the size of your house.
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find online reviews of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix: 

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller. 

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.

How to Find the Right Person to Sell Your House

Your home is where you do life. You’ve probably laughed, cried, sang, screamed, and gathered in this place for as long as you’ve lived there. You’ve gone through life in this house. Now it may be time to move on to the next chapter.

Selling your house brings on a variety of emotions. You’re probably feeling some sadness, anxiety, happiness, and concern. It can be overwhelming and getting the best person to help is what you should do. You don’t have to do it alone.

A listing agent has your back when it comes to the financials, like setting a listing price and marketing, staging, and making repairs to your house. He or she can also help you navigate more personal issues, such as your timeline, and what you’re hoping to achieve with the sale. For all of those reasons, it’s important to find an expert who is right for you and your specific situation, and who can help you get what you want. Here’s how.

-Know What a Listing Agent Can Do For You-

Before you start interviewing prospective agents, have a clear sense of what you want to get out of the selling process. When so much money is on the table, it’s crucial to know what your goals are, so that you can find an agent who really speaks to them.

Then, it helps to understand what a listing agent does (other than sell your most valuable asset — no big deal).

The listing agent will: 

  • Work with you to price your home
  • Market your home (we’re talking pretty pictures, social media promo, cute staging — the works)
  • Negotiate with home buyers
  • Usher the home sale through inspection and closing

Now, let’s break all of that down . . .

Pricing your home. This is the BIG question, right? How do I set the price? The short answer is you’ll need to trust your agent to recommend a smart listing price. 

So how can you tell whether an agent — a relative stranger to you — is choosing the best price for your home? You need to do two things:

  1. Know, generally speaking, what your property is worth. Do your own research on the prices of local comps, (but understand the limits of online property sites). Run your info by your agent for an informed perspective. 
  2. Ask the agent for pricing information on homes he or she has recently sold.Specifically, what the differences were between their listing prices and how much the homes ultimately sold for. 

When it comes to the agent’s pricing history, you’re looking for accuracy. Anyone could suggest a high price for your home, knowing it’s what you’d like to hear. But nobody (especially you) wants to have a house languish on the market, or to reduce a price repeatedly.

Marketing your home. The listing agent will also get the word out that your house is on the market, using a combination of old-school (but powerful) marketing techniques — such as direct mail, signage, and open houses — and the modern methods we know and love, like social media. Savvy agents will post pics of your house on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platform that can get likes plus the attention of other real estate agents who can bring buyers to the table.

Negotiating with buyers. When offers start pouring in, your agent will negotiate with prospective buyers on not only the sale price but also on what contingencies (aka special circumstances) are attached to the contract. As with any negotiation, there could be some stressful, fraught moments with the buyers. You’ll want an agent who can step up for you, and who has a negotiation style that you’re comfortable with.

Closing the sale. Once you’ve signed a purchase agreement with a buyer (woo-hoo!), your agent will help you navigate the sale’s remaining steps. This includes negotiating home repair requests post inspection and dealing with any last-minute surprises before closing.

The average listing agent does all of the above. A great listing agent does all of the above, while also inspiring your confidence — that they’re getting the best price for you, and that they’re representing you and your home in the best possible light. 

So, let’s talk about how to find and hire that kind of agent.

-Ask These Questions to Find a Great Listing Agent-

Here, time is on your side. Aim to hire a listing agent six to eight weeks — or more — before the day your house is listed on the market (also known as the “go-live date”). You’ll be grateful for the cushion, especially if the agent you ultimately hire recommends that you make repairs or upgrades to your home before it’s listed. (That wouldn’t be unusual.)

To find prospective agents, start with your network. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues for recommendations. Word-of-mouth endorsements, as always, can be priceless.

You can also turn to another trusted friend: the internet. Property websites such as realtor.com® have directories that let you search for agents in your area. These databases can clue you into important details, such as an agent’s years of experience, number of homes sold, and past client reviews.

Three out of four home sellers only contact one candidate before picking their listing agent, according to a NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® report. While that may be the norm, it’s smarter to shop around. Interview at least three agents before deciding on the one you want to work with. 

During the interviews, ask these questions to help assess whether an agent is the right fit you:

  • Do you work as an agent full-time? As in most professions, work experience doesn’t guarantee skill. That said, much of real estate is learned on the job.
  • How long have you been in the business? Generally, the more experience an agent has, the more they’re tapped into the local market. 
  • How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year? You don’t need to find an agent who specializes only in your community, though that would be ideal. You do want someone who has recently sold at least a few homes in your neighborhood and knows the local and hyper-local inventory.
  • What’s the typical price range of homes you sell? Most agents work across multiple price points, but you don’t want an agent who has never sold a home in your range.
  • What’s your fee? An agent should be able to articulate their value and explain their commission rate.  
  • How will you market my home? You don’t want to hire someone who’s just going to stick a For Sale sign in your yard and call it a day. The agent should present a comprehensive marketing plan for your listing. This should include strategies for staging your home, taking professional photographs of your home, promoting the listing on social media, marketing to other brokers, and scheduling open houses.
  • Will I be working with you directly, or with a team? Some agents lead or work as part of a sales team. The lead listing agent shares client responsibilities with other agents. Where one agent may handle private showings for a listing, another may host open houses. A benefit is that for the same fee, you get many people working for you. But if you want the sole attention of the listing agent, you may want to stick to a one-on-one arrangement. 
  • Will you provide one-on-one service? Whether you’re working with one agent or a team, ask how responsive they can be to you, your timeline, and your goals.
  • How long on average are your listings on market? Your average sold-to-list price? This can help you suss out whether the agent is a solid marketer and negotiator. These are real estate stats that the agent can pull from your local multiple listing service, or MLS. 

The bottom-line: It’s in your best interest to pick an agent who understands your goals, fits your personality, and can get your home sold for top dollar. When you meet someone who can offer all of the above, congratulations — you’ve found your listing agent.

Rountree Realty is always happy to go over the listing process, answer any questions you may have, and help you sell your house. 

December Newsletter

December is here! The last month of the year!
In the December issue of our monthly newsletter you will find events during this month, featured listings, and market trends.
Click the attachment below to check it out.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any of your real estate needs.

December Newsletter

Duke Rountree
Rountree Realty Corp.
Broker / Owner
Call / Text 352-572-1739
Info@Search352Homes.com
Search352Homes.com

Homeownership Creates Wealth

People always debate the pros and cons of owning a home. While there may be many aspects to consider, we have found a new statistic that is very important to know.

Homeownership presents a great pathway to build wealth. Among all families, the ownership of a primary residence typically accounts for 90% of total wealth, based on the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance data. Among those in the bottom 20% of the income percentile, it’s even more: The median value of holdings for a primary residence accounts for 99% of total family assets. For top earners, however – the top 10% income bracket – it’s 42%.

Housing wealth accumulation takes time. It’s built up slowly by paying off mortgage debt and through price appreciation. And while home prices can fall, prices tend to recover and go up over the long term. As of September 2020, the median sales price of existing home sales was $311,800 – a 35% gain since July 2006 when prices peaked at $230,000.

Florida is also becoming more and more popular to homebuyers. About 1,000 people move to Florida everyday because of the appealing aspects when purchasing a home. Florida residents pay no state income or estate tax, and receive a homestead exemption of up to $50,000 on a primary residence and a 3 percent annual cap on home assessments. The state’s population has grown by about 343,000 in the last year, to about 22 million residents.

Homeowners who spend a lifetime working, raising families and paying mortgages have a greater net worth later in life. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.  

 

Check out this link for more information:

https://www.floridarealtors.org/news-media/news-articles/2020/11/homeownership-creates-wealth-even-if-thats-not-goal

November Newsletter

October has turned into November and there is still so much left to do. In our November issue of our monthly newsletter, you will find, events, featured listings, and market trends. Click the link below to check it out. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any of your real estate needs. 

Duke Rountree
Rountree Realty Corp.
Broker / Owner
Call / Text 352-572-1739
Info@Search352Homes.com
Search352Homes.com

November Newsletter

How Coronavirus Has Impacted Home Buying

Impacts of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in many different ways. From having to quarantine, working from home, schooling from home, workouts from home, it’s easy to say that people are spending more time in their homes. This has led many people to wanting a home with more space or designated areas for certain activities. We have gathered some statistics on this topic.

Changes in Planning to Buy a Home

Three-quarters of homebuyers who plan to buy a home within the next 12 months say the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their home buying plans: 25% said it caused them to move or speed up their timeline, 20% said it caused them to delay moving plans and 17% are now looking for a less expensive home. Specifically:

  • 16% said the pandemic has caused them to want to move
  • 15% said it caused them to move sooner than originally planned
  • 6% chose both options

Home Preference Changes

  • 21% want a designated area to work from home
  • 21% want more outdoor space
  • 10% of respondents now want a bigger home
  • 7% want a designated space for children to learn from home

Why Changed Plans?

  • Of people planning to move, 55% said low mortgage rates are a factor in their changed plans
  • 52% said spending more time at home is a factor
  • 40% said working from home contributed to their desire to move

If the Coronavirus pandemic has caused your family to be spending more time at home and you’re now thinking about looking for a home with more space, Rountree Realty is always here to answer any questions you may have and help achieve your real estate goals during these crazy times.