FeaturedTips and Tricks to Homeownership June 27, 2022

July Home Maintenance Checklist

No matter what you hear there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free home. What there is? A home that’s totally manageable to maintain when you break it down month by month. As always, to help, here’s your July Home Maintenance Checklist. 

  1. Wipe down porch lights, replace blown-out bulbs, and use glass cleaner to freshen up your home’s exterior entryway. 
  2. Get rid of washer build-up with a cup of diluted bleach or white vinegar in the drum. For the dryer, remove and wash the lint screen—especially if you use dryer sheets.
  3. Wipe down and clean baseboards, doors, and light switches.
  4. Clean garbage disposal by sprinkling a half-cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar in the disposal. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before flushing it down the drain.
  5. Drain your water heater to flush out any sediment that could be affecting your heater’s performance.
  6. Wash pet beds, pet toys, travel carriers, etc.
  7. Replace worn-out or dirty entry rugs.
  8. Inspect fencing and gates around your home and make repairs as needed.
  9. Plan your fall vegetable garden. My recommendations? Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale. 

Remember, home maintenance doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Just do a little bit each month, be proud of yourself, then move on to bigger and better things!

Tips and Tricks to Homeownership June 27, 2022

4 Tips for hosting the 4th of July at your home

Promised the whole gang a sparkling good time this 4th of July? Here are FOUR tips to ensure everyone at your house has a blast this holiday weekend:

  1. Don’t wait. Seriously. You’ve got to plan ahead if you want a smooth and easy day. Clean, prep food, gather supplies, and set up your seating areas (ideally in the shade!) up to a day or two before the party. 
  2. Shop early. Head first to places like Dollar Tree and Target. At Target, hit up the Dollar Spot—you’ll find some patriotic treasures but again, shop early for the best selection. The kid-friendly trifecta? Water guns, glow sticks, and popsicles. 
  3. Pay tribute on the porch. Welcome friends and family with American flags, bunting, and red, white, and blue pillows, wreaths, or doormats. Water guns for the adults won’t hurt either. 
  4. Bring the festivities inside. Even if you’re hoping to keep guests outdoors, give a nod to the day indoors with a few decorations. Think bathroom, kitchen, and living room. A classic country playlist will only add to the mood, too. 

Happy 4th of July, friends! Remember, at the end of the day, no matter how the festivities go, today is a day to honor our veterans and celebrate our freedom—and that’s something we all can do without any planning ahead at all.

BuyingReal Estate Tips May 31, 2022

The Final Walk-though

The final walk-through on your new home is an exciting event.

It means you have successfully maneuvered through negotiations, inspections, and financing approval, and are on the verge of signing your closing papers. (pffew!)

Most buyers attend the final walk-through with thoughts of furniture placement and paint colors in their heads. But the walk-through is about more than just making sure your favorite chair will fit by the fireplace. Be sure to do your due diligence to make sure there are no issues that should be resolved before you reach the closing table.  

The purpose of the final walk-through is to ascertain that the home is being conveyed to you in the same condition it was when you agreed to purchase it.

Here are a few of the things you should check:  

1) Make sure no damage has occurred to the home that the sellers are responsible for repairing. Weather conditions or careless movers can cause accidental damage, and old and forgotten damage may be uncovered when the sellers’ belongings are removed.  

2) Check that appliances are still in working order and no new plumbing or electrical issues have popped up. While you aren’t doing a complete home inspection, you can visually check for obvious problems that should be repaired before you move in.  

3) Confirm that items contractually conveying are present. If the sellers agreed to leave particular furniture, décor, or equipment, see that it has not been removed.  

4) Make certain the sellers have removed all their belongings. You don’t want to arrive with the moving truck only to find out that the sellers left behind an assortment of unwanted furniture or trash. The sellers should be held responsible for removing everything that doesn’t convey with the sale.

A great agent will have a well throughout checklist for you to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Now you’re ready to head to the closing table with peace of mind. Who doesn’t love that?

Leah Smith Signature
FeaturedReal Estate TipsSellingSelling May 24, 2022

Get your Home Ready to Sell for Top Dollar

A common mistake people make is to spend a lot of money – renovations, new roof, remodeling. While buyers will be impressed with these things, spending $5000 on remodeling will not add $5000 to your sale. Spend as little money as possible, and spend it on cosmetic, readily seen features like interior painting. The time to remodel is when you plan to stay in the house, not when you’re going to sell.

If you think about everything that needs to be done to sell your house, you might throw your hands up in despair, or at least feel some anxiety. Take one step at a time, one small task at a time. Break it down to manageable-sized chores and you’ll have better results.

First things first – have a garage sale. Whatever doesn’t sell can be set out for Green Drop. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what needs to be done.

This is your first impression, so it had better be a good one.

Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn regularly. Make sure it’s well watered and reseed any sparse areas.

Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.

Buy a new welcome mat.

Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible.

If you have siding or brick, power-wash it. If you have a painted exterior, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.

Make sure the porch light works.

Clean and align gutters and downspouts.

Inspect and clean the chimney.

If the doorbell doesn’t work, repair or replace it.

Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.

Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.

Remove oil stains from driveway and garage.

If you’re selling in the winter, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice. Otherwise, keep the walks and driveway swept.

Repair broken outdoor steps.

Spring for some brightly colored potted outdoor flower arrangements for the front yard near the entrance. It really helps the curb appeal!

Keep your garage door closed.

Wash the windows inside and out.

Store RVs, boats and extra vehicles (anything that can’t be parked in the garage) elsewhere while the house is on the market.

Paint the front door.

If prospective buyers walk into your house greeted by the smell of cat litter, cigarette smoke, mildew or pet accidents, there is little chance that even a reduced sales price will persuade them to buy. So the first thing to do:

Clean, clean, clean. This includes walls, floors, inside closets and cabinets – everything. Consider even hiring a cleaning service to come in and do the job.

Get rid of clutter. Put away appliances you normally leave on countertops. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Clean out your closets, garage, basement and attic.

Paint the walls and ceilings a neutral color – off white or beige.

Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.

Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.

Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.

Buy new cabinet knobs and curtains for the kitchen.

Shampoo all carpets, scrub and wax linoleum, wash and wax wood floors.

Unclog slowly draining sinks and tubs.

Clean out the fireplace and lay some logs in it.

Mend torn screens. Clean out all window tracks.

Check to see that all windows will open and close.

Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs.

Make sure every light switch works.

Nail down any creaking boards or stair treads (drive two long finishing nails at opposing angles through the floor and sub-floor into the joist).

Oil any squeaking doors

Remove excess, worn or unattractive furniture.

Thoroughly clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).

Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains.

Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.

Wash all light switches, handrails and doorknobs.

On Showing Days

Keep draperies and shades open to let in the light.

Place fresh flowers throughout the house.

Have your home well-lit during showing.

At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.

Set out colorful, clean towels in the bathroom.

Avoid having dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.

Keep any toys in the children’s rooms, bikes, wagons and skateboards in the garage.

Play pleasant music at low volume.

Spend the day of an open house away from home.

Leave pets locked in a secure cage or remove them with you for showings.

Unless you’re selling it yourself, let the agent show your house, and don’t tag along.

This can all seem very overwhelming when you’re first getting started. Remember to tackle the job in small chunks for the best results!

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingReal Estate Tips May 10, 2022

Pre-Approval vs Pre-qualification… what’s the difference?

I’m so glad you asked – because it’s crucial.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Meet Luke.
Luke immediately fell in love with the two-story with a brick patio and big backyard for BBQs. He quickly made an offer and began looking for lenders. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that he couldn’t qualify for the home. He tried to find something else in their price range, but other houses paled in comparison. If only they had shopped for loans before looking at houses…

An expert Realtor would have made sure Luke was pre-approved way before he saw the home!

One surefire way to reduce stress during the process of home buying is to seek pre-approval, actually applying for a loan before finding a house.

The loan agent asks for a few bits of information:

-A loan application
-Credit Report
-Income and asset information with supporting documentation.

These documents are then submitted to prospective lenders who underwrite the file, issuing credit approval or denial.

Buyers who are pre-approved are taken more seriously than their pre-qualified counterparts. Pre-qualification is not a loan commitment from a lending institution; it is only a loan agent’s opinion that you will be able to obtain financing. Verifications are not usually made, so formal approval is not issued. These days, virtually anyone can achieve pre-qual status.

Pre-approval, on the other hand, signifies that the lender has taken the application through a rigorous procedure. So buyers with pre-approval status can basically write their own ticket.

Check out these benefits of a pre-approval:

1. If you make an offer on a home and then apply for a loan, you are at the lender’s mercy. He sets the interest rate and points, aware that you do not have time to shop around.

2. Understanding the breadth of your financial reach will save the time spent looking at houses you can’t afford.

3. Shopping for a loan allows you to settle on a house payment that fits your lifestyle. If you rely on your lender to tell you what you can afford, you may end up with a high mortgage payment. Most people can qualify for more than they would feel comfortable paying.

4. Having a pre-approval letter from a lender gives you an edge in a situation where multiple offers have been made on a house.

5. Pre-approved buyers can generally close escrow more quickly. Once you submit your credit package, most of the legwork has already been done.

Remember, neither pre-approval nor pre-qualification are absolute loan commitments. Lenders must still assess property appraisals, verify information, and, in many cases, verify credit before funding the loan.

If you ever have any questions about pre-approvals, contact me! I’d be more than happy to walk you through it and get you in touch with one of my recommended Loan Officers.

Leah Smith Signature
Tips and Tricks to Homeownership May 2, 2022

May Home Maintenance Checklist

You know what time it is!

My favorite day of the Month. The beginning of a new month – which means a new maintenance checklist! WOO.

Before we can enjoy lazy days in the yard, there are a few outdoor maintenance tasks we should want to go ahead and tackle. With me? Roll up those sleeves, pop in your ear buds, and let’s get going!⁣

Wash away winter’s dirt and grime from your windows so you can actually enjoy your beautiful yard as things bloom.⁣

Winter weather can take a toll on hard surfaces. Check for new or widening cracks on your patios and sidewalks, replace damaged pavers, and fire up the pressure washer.⁣

Don’t wait for temps to climb before double-checking that your air-conditioning unit is in good working order. A typical AC service check will cost anywhere from $75 to $200—and it’s totally worth every penny.⁣

Just because your lawn is green today doesn’t mean it’s ready for summer. Your grass needs nutrients, and May is a great time to add fertilizer to keep those weeds at bay all summer long.⁣
Long before you fire up the grill, make sure the grills are clean, the connections are secure, and your propane tanks are full.⁣

Cold temps can cause wood to warp so check for loose boards and broken gate latches to keep kids and pets where they should be.⁣

Fresh mulch is like a new paint job for your outdoors. Aim to spread mulch 2 to 4 inches across all your beds. ⁣

What backyard activity are you getting ready for this May? Nap in the hammock, gardening, game of bocce ball, or cannonball into the pool? All I know is – I’m ready.

Leah Smith Signature
Tips and Tricks to Homeownership April 1, 2022

April Home Maintenance Checklist

Ahhh, spring is here, and with it longer days, warmer temps, and a return to outdoor living. Finally!

Spring also means it’s time to give that home sweet home a serious once over. To help, here’s an April home maintenance checklist to get you started:⁣

  • Declutter, declutter, declutter. Yep, I’m beating that drum…again. You didn’t think I’d have a home maintenance checklist without decluttering as numero uno, did you?⁣

  • Replace air filters and schedule a maintenance check of your cooling system to ensure it’s ready for the steamy months ahead.⁣

  • Wash windows and doors, and don’t forget your porches. Clean out corner cobwebs and spruce up your front porch or stoop with a colorful wreath, a cutesy welcome mat, and stately planters.⁣

  • Clean and organize your garage; while you’re at it, go on and rinse out your trash cans and recycling bins.⁣

  • Rent or borrow a pressure washer to give your siding, sidewalk, and driveway a fresh look. Check for widening cracks and chipped paint as you go, making a note to come back and address them later.⁣

  • Clean and repair your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re in prime condition for spring downpours.⁣

  • Test your sprinkler or irrigation system and give that lawnmower a good ole crank. (Trust me, your grass will thank you later!)⁣

  • Clear brush and fallen limbs away from the house and clean out your beds to make room for spring color.⁣

Join me in rolling out the welcome mat for the easy, breezy season ahead!⁣

Join me in rolling out the welcome mat for the easy, breezy season ahead!

Leah Smith Signature
Real Estate TipsTips and Tricks to Homeownership March 24, 2022

Tax Prep for New Homebuyers

This information was supplied from Patrick McConney. Reach out today for all of your lending questions.

Buying a home means a place to call your own. It also has other advantages, like potentially big tax benefits for you that you may not know about.

There are multiple deductions available to lower your tax bills:

  • Mortgage Interests
  • Property Taxes
  • Mortgage points paid to reduce your interest rate
  • Home office space- you can deduct the square footage of the area where you conduct business. Get all the details about what qualifies here.
  • Energy-effeciency upgrades

You can be prepared by:

  • Keep a checklist for all mortgage-related payments
  • Save receipts from home improvements
  • File early

Happy filing!

Leah Smith Signature
FeaturedReal Estate TipsSelling March 22, 2022

Your Questions about Selling your home: Answered!

If you have a home to sell, you’re probably excited to get the process started. There are many things you need to consider when selling your property, and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the task.

FeaturedTips and Tricks to Homeownership March 2, 2022

March Home Maintenance Checklist

No need to get overwhelmed by March spring cleaning — take it room by room in manageable groups of threes. After all, three’s a charm!⁣

In your living room:
Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures⁣
Vacuum or dry clean curtains and clean window blinds⁣
Wipe down baseboards and clear corners of dust bunnies and cobwebs⁣

In your bedrooms:⁣
Clean out drawers and closets (and donate gently used items)⁣
Wash comforters, shams, and blankets⁣
Rotate and/or flip your mattress⁣

In your kitchen:⁣
Empty the fridge and wipe down all the shelves (or stick them in the DW if they’ll fit)⁣
Defrost the freezer and toss any freezer-burned food⁣
Wipe down your microwave, stovetop, coffeemaker, and any other small appliances⁣

In your bathrooms:⁣
Toss out expired makeup, toiletries, and OTC medicines⁣
Wash the shower curtain and floor mats⁣
Clean grout (or regrout if needed).⁣

It’s definitely not my favorite thing to do, but I love how I feel and how my home looks after a serious cleaning session!

Leah Smith Signature