Whether you want to save energy to lower your carbon footprint or reduce your bills—or both—here are four things you can do as a tenant. Make it Darker One reason that tinted windows in cars are popular is that they help keep a car’s interior cool. You can benefit from tinted windows in your rental property, too. They offer a lower cost alternative to installing energy-efficient windows and can cut your air conditioner use. Unplug Devices Standby power, also known as phantom load and vampire power, refers to energy used by appliances and electronics that are plugged in but turned off or in standby mode. TVs, computers, and gaming consoles are prime examples of devices that continue to use power when not in use and can be unplugged without significant consequence, unlike a refrigerator. Consider plugging these into a power strip that you can switch on and off as needed. Change Bulbs LED light bulbs use significantly less electricity and last much longer than incandescent blubs. However, those improvements come at a higher cost per bulb. Depending on who pays for the bulbs and how long you intend to stay in the rental, it might make sense to swap out the existing bulbs. You can always purchase and install your own LED bulbs, save the existing bulbs, and reinstall the incandescent ones when your lease is done. Help the Dryer If don’t have a high-efficiency clothes washer, running a quick extra spin cycle cuts down on drying time. Keeping the lint trap clean can also make your dryer work fastest and use less energy.
Retirement isn’t just the end of your working days. It’s a time to recalibrate and consider what you’d like to do in your next chapter. You might be wondering: Should I sell my home now that I’m retired? Ask yourself these questions: Does your current home meet your present and future needs? Do you need as much space as you have? Do you need more now that you’ll spend more time at home? Do you think your home will meet your needs 10 years from now? Twenty? Can you afford your current home? For many people, retirement means earning significantly less income than during their careers. If you have a mortgage, will you be able to afford the payments? If you have paid off your home, are you able to afford your property taxes on a lower or fixed income? This is something to consider when deciding whether to move. Where would you go if you sold your home? Your home may be worth a lot more money than you paid for it, but so are the homes you may consider buying if you sold. Where would you like to live? Look at prices in that area. Do they work with your budget? Is your home even ready to sell? Are there any repairs you want to make before you would consider selling? Sometimes even small upgrades or cosmetic changes can make a big difference. Are you ready to move? Moving is a major undertaking. It may take you weeks or months to pack up your belongings, especially if you have lived in your home for several years. Hiring a REALTOR® is always smart when considering any real estate transaction. A REALTOR® can discuss considerations like these to help you make the best decisions. Some REALTORS® even have earned the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation to help buyers over 50 sort through their options. All REALTORS® pledge to abide by a code of ethics, so you know that you have a professional in your corner who puts your interests first.
You love the wood floors, chef’s kitchen, and spa-like bathroom. But remember that there’s more to a property than features and looks. Here are additional items to consider before you make an offer. Will It Be Loud? That idyllic street you saw on a Sunday open house might turn into a commuters’ cut-through during the week. Or a nearby grade crossing might prompt frequent train horns in the middle of the night. Visit the home at different times on different days to get a sense for what the noise level is like, and consider asking current neighbors about sources of significant noise and traffic. How Old Is That Really Expensive Thing To Replace? The seller’s disclosure notice may alert you to known issues with major appliances and systems, but those sources won’t tell you that the HVAC or roof is nearing the end of its lifespan. Knowing the age of certain items can help estimate when they need to be replaced. A home inspector can likely give you information about whether certain systems are deficient, but don’t count on an inspection to reveal how much life is left in a component. In some cases, the installation date may be available or visible. Can I Do It My Way? Homeowners associations can benefit property owners but they come with rules and regulations that must be followed. Be sure to review all documents from an HOA before you commit to a purchase. Likewise, city codes and ordinances restrict what you can do with your property. You don’t want to find out after you close that you can’t park your boat trailer in the driveway or paint your house your favorite shade of red. Will the View Change? That view of the hills or lake or city skyline can be a huge selling point. But will that feature remain? If you’re buying in a master planned community, check with the builder to see if there are plans to develop something that may obstruct the view. Otherwise, you can look into the area’s zoning to understand whether that scenic view might be jeopardized. Keep in mind that development plans and zoning are subject to change in the future.
Moving into a new home can be equally exciting and disruptive—not just for you and your family but for your animals as well. Since pets are creatures of habit, changing the environment can cause anxiety. Here are four ways to make the transition to the new setting easier. Restrict Access In the beginning, limit access to certain rooms so that it isn’t so overwhelming. Take your pets on a tour of the available rooms and let them roll around to incorporate their own scent. Make it Familiar There may be a temptation to buy new things for the new space. However, it’s best to incorporate recognizable scents. Keep their bed, toys, cat tree, blanket, or other favorite items around. It can also help if you stay home as much as possible the first few days to make them feel more comfortable. Don’t Mess with Routines This isn’t the time to stop letting them sleep on the bed or change the type of food they eat. The key is to create consistency and stability. If your dog is used to walks at six in the morning and again at five, stick to it. The same goes for feeding time. Have Patience During the orientation period there may be bathroom accidents, excessive barking, or frequent hiding. Give your pets space and time to get acclimated. If needed, contact a veterinarian for additional coping strategies. Need a recommendation for a vet in the area? Check with your REALTOR®.
Your real estate transaction isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and your REALTOR®’s services should match what you need. Lucky for you, REALTORS® offer many types of business models to guide you through your transaction. Here are three common examples. Traditional Brokerage With a traditional brokerage model, brokers and agents provide a full range of services in exchange for a commission. The commission is negotiable and covers the REALTOR®’s time and efforts on your behalf, whether it’s marketing your home for sale, finding a great space for your business, or locating the perfect home for you and your family. Flat-Fee Brokerage A flat-fee brokerage provides all the services of a traditional brokerage, such as advice on pricing, help with negotiation, and market analysis. But instead of charging a fee equal to a percentage of the sales price, the brokerage charges a negotiable flat fee for its help. A La Carte Brokerage With the a la carte model, clients choose what services they want the brokerage to provide—and only pay for those. For example, a seller may want a REALTOR® to include the home in the multiple listing service and to coordinate showings. However, the seller will handle contracts and negotiations on her own. While these examples are popular business models, they are far from the only ones. No matter what type of model your REALTOR® uses, you will get a professional who follows a strict Code of Ethics to achieve your real estate goals
Downsizing can be a daunting and time-consuming process. Check out these three tips on how to get prepared for moving into a smaller home. Give Yourself Time Not only will you want to start planning early so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, but you’ll also want to give yourself time to reminisce over the sentimental items you uncover when packing. Take the time to enjoy the memories instead of stressing about the process. Make a List Write down what rooms (including storage spaces) will be in your new home and what furniture or essential items you will need for the space. Measure the rooms ahead of time to ensure they will fit. Create Piles Sort your possessions into keep and don’t keep piles. By sorting into piles, you can weed out duplicates and what is no longer necessary. Then, donate, sell, or throw away the stuff you aren’t going to keep. Don’t feel like you need to do it all by yourself. Ask your REALTOR® for recommendations for donation sites, reliable movers, a professional organizer, or other relocation services.
Staging is a great way to emphasize your home’s best features. But before you stage, there are a handful of low-cost ways you can make updates on your home to help maximize the salability. Go Beyond Dusting Many homebuyers pay special attention to cabinets, walls, closets, and floors when touring a home, so it’s essential to do a deep clean. And don’t forget about washing the windows—letting natural light into the house will make it feel warm and inviting. Freshen With Paint Over time, the walls can start to look dull and dingy. A fresh coat of paint will brighten a room and make it look new. Adding a lighter color to the ceiling will make it appear higher. Repair or Replace Noticeable flaws turn off buyers. Take the time to repair issues such as sticking doors, leaky faucets, or damaged baseboards. Other small ways to make a big transformation are updating the hardware on your cabinets and upgrading light switch covers. Don’t Overwhelm the Senses Homebuyers are looking for a place they can see themselves living, so this is not the time to show off your style or keepsakes. Declutter and move excess decorations into storage. Spruce Up the Yard Since curb appeal is the first impression of the home, don’t underestimate the power of a freshly trimmed lawn and pruned bushes. Go the extra step and rake up leaves, remove weeds, and add a splash of color by planting blooming flowers. Don’t let inexpensive, easy tasks hold you back from getting the best possible offer. A REALTOR® can advise you on other ways to best prepare your home to sell.
Your tenant’s lease is up soon, and you’ve decided to sell. While it makes things more challenging if you show the home while the tenant is still living on the property, it can be done with good communication and planning. Respect Tenant’s Schedule Find out ahead of time if there are times that the property cannot be shown due to the tenant’s schedule. Have your REALTOR® coordinate any timing constraints with agents and prospective buyers wanting to view the property. Make Show Times Clear Communication is key. A misunderstanding or scheduling error could result in the house being occupied or not ready to be viewed. Take Responsibility for the Property’s Condition Make it easy for the tenant to keep the property looking show-ready. For example, offer to hire a cleaning or lawn service while the property is on the market. Take advantage of your REALTOR®’s expertise to help you sell the property while minimizing the tenant’s inconvenience.
Whether you are buying, selling, or renting property, know that there are laws and ordinances in place to protect you from discrimination. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers, lenders, and real estate professionals from discriminating against you based on your race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, familial status, or disability. Discrimination Takes Many Forms It might not be an offensive comment said to your face. You may not even know it is happening. For example, sellers and landlords cannot set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sales or rentals based on the protected classes. They also cannot impose different sale prices or rental charges. Agents cannot steer you toward or away from a neighborhood based on the protected classes as well. You can find a list of many more prohibited actions online by searching the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website for examples of housing discrimination. Your REALTOR® Is Committed to Promoting and Upholding Fair Housing REALTORS® adhere to the highest professional standards—beyond what the law requires. When agreeing to abide by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, your REALTOR® has also pledged to not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on the protected classes. The Code of Ethics also prohibits discriminatory employment practices. REALTORS® also may not refuse to cooperate with another real estate broker based on the protected classes. Rest assured that your REALTOR® is with you every step of the way to explain, support, and guide you through your sale, purchase, or rental. Your REALTOR® can help you find a place to call home—an essential part of the American Dream. By hiring a REALTOR® , you will get the help you need and the professional, unbiased treatment to which you are entitled. Learn more about fair housing, including how to file complaints.
Refinancing your mortgage loan can save you money. However, here are factors to consider to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Interest Rates Lower interest rates are a leading cause for homeowners who want to refinance. The goal, of course, is to lower your monthly payment. But lowering a monthly payment alone won’t always save you money. Understand the new loan’s term and any fees associated with refinancing to make sure you’re seeing the whole picture. Credit Score Your credit score played a large part in the interest rate on your existing mortgage, and it has similar influence over any refinanced loan. If your credit score has dropped and you can’t qualify for a lower rate, refinancing may not help you financially. Mortgage History Where are you on your current mortgage? If you’re towards the end of your loan term, refinancing may have not make sense. If you’re thinking about refinancing, make sure you first identify your financial goals. Then talk to a lender about how to make those goals happen.