William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Take the Stress Out of the Buying and Selling Process with These Simple Tips

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Regardless of what side of the real estate transaction you’re on, buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience, and if you’re not careful, the anxieties associated with the process can become overwhelming. While getting out of the house for a massage or yoga class can be helpful, here are some additional ways to take the stress out of the process.  
 
First, understand your goals in buying or selling a home. Make a list of what you hope to accomplish—the price, neighborhood, timetable, etc. Once you know exactly what you want, you’ll have an easier time explaining your wants and needs to your agent, alleviating some of the stress that goes hand-in-hand with the buying or selling process.
 
Another simple way to alleviate stress is to prepare your finances ahead of time. If buying a home, know what you can afford and get a pre-approval letter from your bank so you don’t have to worry about whether you can truly afford the home you want. If selling a home, know what it will cost to make repairs or renovations and get estimates for the move itself. When both parties know how much money they really need, it makes things easier for everyone involved.
 
Next, take the time to read some books, blogs or online real estate advice that can provide a glimpse into what to expect when buying or selling a home. Understanding the process and being aware of issues that can come up will keep surprises from causing undo stress. If you understand the problems that can come with obtaining a mortgage or realize that not every offer will be a good one, you can keep your emotions at bay.
 
While you most likely already have an agent working with you, other professionals can help alleviate stress as well. Having a good real estate lawyer will let you sign any contracts without fear that you’re making a mistake. Hiring a good inspector will allow you to rest easy knowing that any problems with the house will be found. And working with a home stager will go a long way toward positioning your home in the best light possible.
 
In the end, remember that not everything can be controlled, and the real estate game can get confusing at times. If something unexpected comes up, take a deep breath, relax and try to do something to take your mind off of the deal for a while. 
 
Contact our office today for more tips to help take the stress out of the buying or selling process.

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5 Tips for a Smooth Home Purchase

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

If you’re planning on purchasing a home this year, here are a few tips to keep things moving smoothly throughout the process.
 
1. Communicate with Your Agent. Work with a real estate agent that you are comfortable with and be sure to express everything you want and need in your new home. By communicating your desires from the beginning, your agent won’t waste time showing you homes that don’t fit your criteria. If you know you want a gourmet kitchen or walk-in closet in the master bedroom, make that clear. Or if you absolutely have to be near public transportation, tell your agent to avoid turning the process into a guessing game. When it comes to finding the perfect home, clear communication is key. And if you run into any problems along the way, be sure to speak with your agent to iron out any issues.
 
2. Be Reasonable with Expectations. If you’re searching for a three-bedroom home located in a certain neighborhood that has a pool, finished basement and sunroom and your agent shows you a property and your biggest qualm is the color, don’t simply write the home off. When searching for the home of your dreams, you may have to give something up or make some changes once you move in. Finding a home that’s 100 percent what you want can be a daunting undertaking.
 
3. Don’t be Discouraged. Don’t expect to find your dream home overnight. Buyers often get frustrated because nothing pops up in the first week or two, but remember, you’re not buying a new toaster. You want to find the home that you and your family can live in and love for years and years to come.  
 
4. Play the Money Game. If you offer $375,000 on a home that’s listed at $400,000 and the seller refuses to budge, be prepared to negotiate. When buying a home, you need to have some wiggle room. Before making an offer, discuss your strategy with your agent as he or she will be able to tell you whether your offer is fair or unreasonable. It’s also important to check out comps in the neighborhood so that you can make a reasonable offer from the get-go.
 
5. Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved. This could be the smartest thing you do all year. By having a mortgage approved before you even begin looking at houses, you’ll be ready to make an offer as soon as you find the home of your dreams. Getting pre-approved will also give you the upper hand over other buyers who may be interested in the same house.
 
For more tips for a smooth home-buying process, contact our office today.

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In this Edition: Tax Extenders

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines five tips that are instrumental in keeping the home-buying process running smoothly. Other topics covered this month include simple ways to take the stress out of the home-buying or -selling process and the importance of choosing a reputable moving company to transport your belongings to your new space. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Gardening in Winter? It Can Be Done!

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Ready…set…spring!

One way to beat the winter doldrums this season is to liven up your home with greenery. Green thumb or not, the key is to start small, says gardening author Ann Whitman, who suggests beginning with a terrarium, a miniature tabletop garden.

“Terrariums invite you in for a closer look and provide a perfect escape from the winter weather outside,” Whitman says. “Terrariums are easy to care for and don’t require any special skills for success…not much more than occasional watering and trimming.”

The proper vessel is most crucial to your terrarium’s success. Modern models are substantial, and angled with beveled glass and copper-colored metal trimming (real copper would turn green). Take care to select plants that are specifically suited for terrariums—they should not require a high level of maintenance.

Aside from a terrarium, you can jump-start your outdoor garden (yes, in the dead of winter!) by planting seeds indoors, says Whitman. If your home does not receive adequate sunlight, consider purchasing a light system to ensure the seeds thrive through the season.

“Greenery” in your home might also include springtime scents, Whitman adds. Botanical essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, orange, peppermint or rosemary, are the pure, extracted essence of plants, unadulterated by chemicals or other ingredients. Just a few drops in a diffuser can help inject life into your home ahead of the first day of spring.

Source: Gardener’s Supply Company

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Home-Related Loan Delinquencies Dive toward Historic Norms

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Delinquencies, or payments that are 30 days or more overdue, on home-related loans are declining toward historical norms, a sign of continued progress for the housing market. Both open- and closed-end home-related loans, according to a recent report by the American Bankers Association (ABA), showed an overall decrease.

“The steady decline in home-related delinquencies has been a bright spot as they grind their way back to pre-recession levels,” says James Chessen, chief economist of the ABA. “We expect this trend to continue as the housing market keeps gaining strength.”

Delinquencies on closed-end property improvement loans and open-end home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) dropped to 0.87 percent and 1.31 percent, respectively. Closed-end mobile home and home equity loan delinquencies rose slightly, to 3.59 percent and 2.91 percent, respectively. A closed-end loan is for a fixed amount of money with a fixed repayment period and regularly scheduled payments. An open-end loan is for a fixed amount of available credit but a balance that fluctuates depending on usage.

“A good economy and lower delinquency rates go hand-in-hand, and the Fed is betting on a stronger economy in 2016,” adds Chessen.  “If the economy remains solid and jobs continue to grow, we would expect delinquency levels to continue hovering near these historic lows. As always, disciplined financial management by consumers is an essential ingredient for lower delinquencies.  Now is a great time for consumers to reflect on their holiday expenditures and resolve to reduce any excess debt in the New Year.”

Delinquent borrowers should speak with creditors as soon as possible to assess their options.

Source: ABA

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Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Straight Week

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Mortgage rates have dropped for the second week in a row.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) dipped below 4 percent to 3.92 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 3.97 percent the week prior, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year FRM averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.26 percent the previous week.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) also decreased, moving to 3.01 percent from 3.09 percent last week with an average 0.4 point.

“Long-term Treasury yields continue to drop, dragging mortgage rates down with them,” explains Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “Turbulence in overseas financial markets is generating a flight-to-quality which benefits U.S. Treasury securities. In addition, sagging oil prices are capping inflation expectations. The net effect on the 30-year mortgage rate was a 5 basis point drop to 3.92 percent."

Source: Freddie Mac

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Say It Ain't Snow! 3 Safety Tips for Drivers

January 14, 2016 1:24 am

It’s no secret winter storms can severely diminish driving conditions, and many leave icy, pothole-ridden roads in their wake. But according to a recent survey by Hankook Tire, many drivers don’t have a solid grasp on the rules of the road—in fact, the majority of survey respondents did not know to keep a distance of 10-12 seconds, or six car lengths, between their vehicle and the driver in front of them during adverse road conditions.

If your area is prone to winter weather, keep in mind these safety tips before trekking out in your vehicle, courtesy of Hankook Tire.

• Don't Mix Tires – Never mix tires with different tread patterns, performance ratings or sizes. Use identical tires on all of your vehicle's wheel positions in order to maintain the best control and stability. In cold temperatures where slick surfaces require significant grip, a dedicated winter or all-season tire is best.

• Check Tire Pressure – As the temperature drops, so does tire inflation, decreasing 1-2 pounds for every 10 degree-drop in ambient air temperature. Make sure your tires are properly inflated regularly during winter.

• Keep a Full Tank – Or at least half-full. A car's fuel lines can freeze up very easily in the winter, and this usually happens when the gas level is below half the tank.

Source: Hankook Tire

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3 DIY Projects to Improve Energy-Efficiency

January 14, 2016 1:24 am

(BPT)—You don’t need to hire a professional to make your home more energy-efficient.

We’ll say it again: You don’t need to hire a professional to make your home more energy-efficient. In fact, with just a few tools, most homeowners can greatly reduce their monthly utility costs, as well as lessen their home’s carbon footprint, by DIY-ing energy-saving projects around the home. For example:

Replace Worn Weather Stripping – Replacing worn weather stripping on doors and windows not only prevents cold drafts in your home, but also helps save on heating costs. To remove old stripping, simply heat caulk with a hair dryer to loosen, and use a paint scraper to peel away the old layer.

Swap Furnace Filter – Before you turn on your furnace for the season, check the filter. If it looks dirty, it needs to be replaced—the average cost of a new filter is $10. Regularly changing the filters in your heating system can drastically improve both its longevity and efficiency. If using your heat daily, aim to replace the filter every four to six weeks.

Cover Bare Floorboards – Non-insulated floors cause up to 10 percent of a home's energy loss. If you have wooden floors, consider adding rugs to help reduce some of that loss. If you spot cracks or gaps in the floor, apply a silicone-based filler to seal.

Source: Bernzomatic

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What Will Homes Look Like in 10 Years?

January 14, 2016 1:24 am

Accessibility. Automation. Conservation. Health. Safety. These themes are expected to shape the future of residential home design, according to a recent American Institute of Architects (AIA) report.

“Historically, the dominant factors in home design have been economic and demographic shifts,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Residential architects are seeing these forces at play in their vision for the next decade, as well. Homeowners have indicated a strong preference for functionality, accessibility and sustainability over the last ten years, and architects expect that to accelerate, with increasing demand for healthy building materials and furnishings, along with designs that provide measures of resistance to weather-related calamities.”

The themes above will inform the following major design trends in the next 10 years:

1. Technological Integration – Technological integration will become more prevalent, with both dedicated support for personal devices and automated controls for temperature, security and lighting.

2. Non-Toxic Materials – Increased awareness about environmental health issues will lead to more widespread use of low- or no-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for paint and composite wood, as well as natural fiber upholstery, carpets without polyvinyl chloride backing and air purification systems.

3. Disaster-Proof Design – There will be a growing demand for design that strengthens homes against natural disasters, including elevated residences, windows with impact glazing, dedicated safe rooms and backup power generation.

4. Energy-Efficiency – The next 10 years will see an increasing use of energy-efficient and other sustainable design elements and products, such as solar panels, water reclamation systems and tankless water heaters.

5. Aging-in-Place Plans – More homes will include aging-in-place and universal design elements to accommodate an aging population, including wider hallways, added handrails and one-level living spaces.

6. Open-Concept Living – Kitchens will continue to serve as the focal point of the home highlighted by open-design concepts.

7. Outdoor Space – The next 10 years in residential design will also include a heavy emphasis and investment in outdoor living spaces.

8. Home Offices – As employment situations evolve and workplace norms fall by the wayside, more households will require space devoted to home offices.

9. Infill Development – Infill development, or the process of developing vacant or under-used parcels of land within existing urban areas, will result in smaller, better-designed homes.

10. Urban Characteristics – There will be a strong preference for urban lifestyle qualities in communities, leading to higher-density developments that provide amenities to residents.

Source: AIA

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Replacing a Home Appliance? Why It Pays to Buy New

January 13, 2016 1:24 am

When a major household appliance needs replacing, you may be tempted to save some money by purchasing a used or refurbished model. Be forewarned: what you save now may end up costing you more down the line, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

Why? Used or refurbished appliances may not be as efficient as the latest offerings, resulting in higher energy bills.

Consider this: a 20-cubic foot refrigerator manufactured in 1991 consumes, on average, more than 857 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year, while a 22-cubic foot refrigerator carrying the ENERGY-STAR® label manufactured in 2012 consumes only 452 kWh a year. That difference amounts to over $50 in savings per year for the typical household.

Used or refurbished appliances also have the potential to break down, resulting in more costs for repairs. And, secondhand appliances may have a lower life expectancy overall, especially if the previous owner neglected to conduct regular maintenance.

Keep in mind some states and utility companies offer sizable rebates when you purchase new energy-efficient appliances, and even when you recycle your old appliances.

In sum, a new appliance, when designed with energy-efficiency in mind, is a far better deal than a used one.

Source: AHAM

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