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Friday, October 30, 2015

Tips on Selling a House

   Yay, it's finally Friday!!!

   As some of you know, I put my house on the market over the summer. This was my first house and this was my first time selling a house. It is stressful to say the least.

   On Monday I posted tips on buying a house. Today I am going to give y'all some tips on selling a house.

1. Curb Appeal
Whether it is the pictures in your house's online listing, people driving by your house, or people actually scheduled to look at your house, curb appeal is important. I didn't stress too much on curb appeal because I do think articles on selling homes stress this too much, acting like you have to have some holy immaculate looking front yard. But it is still important. It's the first thing a potential buyer or investor (which I still consider a buyer) looks at. All I did was a little mulching, made sure the grass was cut, pulled weeds, made sure there wasn't any clutter on the front porch, and put a flower in a pot on each side of the walkway towards the door. It was simple and sweet- and cheap. Anything that goes on your front porch like trashcans, recycle bins, etc.- if you have a shed, throw it all in there. I'll admit, every time there was a showing, I threw bags full of trash, recycling bins, trashcans, etc. all in the shed.

2. Use a Real Estate Service
I suggest doing this. I think it goes a lot quicker and smoother this way and helps with communication between you and the buyer. Avoiding direct communication with the buyer is important- according to my selling agent. The middle men communicating would be the seller's agent and the buyer's agent. It keeps it professional this way. But also because of this lengthy process of communicating to one another, you should always be checking your email or have your phone on you and respond to your agent or someone with the service you are using as quickly as possible to get things rolling and keep them rolling. In my opinion, using a real estate service when selling your house can also help a whole lot with all of the paperwork. Just be aware of their rate. Depending on their rate and how much your house sells for, they can be very costly. I didn't really pay attention to this part until the end and was surprised at the final cost. So I would definitely think about this early on.

3. The Listing
Before your house is officially on the market, you will approve the listing. Make sure everything is correct and that the brief description at least has some of the top selling points of your home such as a new roof, new stainless steel appliances, all appliances are included, etc. You want to attract people to come see your home and potentially buy it. The other part of the listing that is important is the pictures. Make sure there are enough pictures. I believe my listing had 23. And make sure they are good quality pictures that show off the rooms. The company/ service I went with to sell my house is pretty picky about the photographers they hire. Clean your house before the real estate service's photographer comes out to take the pictures. Also make sure your house is clean and things are put away to avoid the appearance of clutter. I think most of the time I look at the pictures before I read the description and information in listings.

4. Pricing
Ugh, pricing. I allowed my agents to decide on the right price of my home by looking at my home, letting them know what was included and what was new, etc., looking at what other houses have recently sold for in my area, looking at the prices of homes that are currently on the market in my area, etc. These all play an important part in determining the price. And you might not like the price they give you- I know I didn't. It was $5,100 less than I had originally wanted it listed for. But they are professionals, they compared it to what is on the market and how much houses are selling for, etc. I wanted my house sold and quick. You have to remember that you are competing with other houses on the market and pricing is everything. But what if you had gotten your house appraised just last year and it was appraised for a lot higher? That was last year. The amount a house is appraised for can go down by thousands the following year. It's frustrating, I know, but it is what it is. My agent says you have to listen to the market or some hippie sounding shit like that lol.

5. It's Ok to Accept Your First Offer
I got a lot of showings in the first week. The 1st showing was scheduled before my house had even been on the market for 24 hours. That same week (on Friday) I had gotten an offer. It was lower than I was willing to accept. So I threw back a counter offer that was still lower than I was originally willing to accept but I thought it seemed fair. According to my agent, the potential buyer had put in the full amount she was approved for in her first offer and wouldn't be able to get approved for more than that. He also told me that she was a single mom and that this was the first and only house that made her eyes light up and made her feel like she could actually live there. Honestly, who knows if that was true, no offense, but I don't fully 100% trust real estate agents and my selling agent was so fake and gave off a sleezeball vibe. But whatever, I had found the right house for me and that seller had accepted my offer but with a contingent clause regarding the sale of my house. So if I didn't sell my house quick before they had gotten a better offer that I couldn't/ wouldn't beat, then I would lose the house that I wanted and I didn't want to risk it. Plus, if all that stuff about the potential buyer that my agent had said was in fact true, then I felt good about selling her my house. I am very understanding, especially when it comes to house hunting. So, I accepted my first offer on the house.

A lot of the details I listed in my post, Tips on House Hunting can also be applied to selling a house. You're just on the opposite side of things. I think selling a house can sometimes be even more stressful than trying to buy a house. I guess it all just depends on the market, the area, and your situation. Even though you might feel defeated sometimes, want to pull your hair out, and feel like you can't breathe, just remember that it will all work out. Hope for the best and be prepared for the unexpected. Good luck!

-Heather



 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips on House Hunting

   Ah, it's Monday. I have been so bad at blogging lately and I'm sorry for that. Life has been so extremely busy lately and I have so much to update y'all on and share with you and so little time to do so. Bare with me here.

   I thought I'd do a little post on house hunting since I have now been down this road of house hunting twice. I'll admit, there are tons of ups and downs and places in between. It can be very emotional and stressful at times but you have to keep your head up, stay positive, and know that it will all work out in the end. So to help you out, I'm going to list a few tips for y'all.

1. Find the Right Realtor for You
Finding the right realtor is key in starting your house hunting journey. You want someone you feel like is actually listening to you and not pressuring you into buying a specific house or pushing you to look at completely different houses that don't meet your requirements. And don't be afraid to speak your mind. My realtor for my first house was HORRIBLE. Besides the fact that she was a conniving slacking lazy B****, ugh I don't even want to go into it that much, so I won't. But she made me sign a 6 month contract in the very beginning so that I could only use her as my realtor and she showed me houses in areas that were way too far away in different cities than I had said I wanted to live in and she kept showing me condos and pushing me into living in a condo. She almost tricked me into buying a condo that had an HOA rule of a 1 dog limit. Anyway, do not commit to a realtor that is pushing you and pressuring you. My realtor I have now is awesome. He is calm, cool, professional, and listens. It's also a plus that he texts- LOVE that! And he has shown that he is looking out for me and completely on my side.

2. Do Not Expect your Realtor to do all of the Work
Just because he or she is your realtor doesn't mean you should just sit back and let them do all of the house hunting for you. Some realtors will look for houses that may meet your requirements and then present you with the list and take you to see them. Some don't. If you are like me, and especially if you are eager to quickly buy a house, do it yourself. And I'm not saying realtors should be searching for you and that if they don't, they aren't doing their jobs. I'm not saying that at all. But it will help the both of you if you are actively searching. I was on Realtor, Trulia, and Zillow almost everyday saving houses, looking for new houses that were recently added, reviewing my list of houses again and again and again, and comparing the houses. Every week I would send my realtor my list of 2-8 houses and the day I wanted to go look at them and he would let me know which ones we could see that day and the times. I think this speeds up the process big time.

3. Be Open, Optimistic, & Realistic
This is very important with house hunting. Unless you are rich and have an unlimited budget, you most likely won't find a house that has every single thing you want to a T. Make a list of things you want in a house. And then go over that list and make a second list. Put the things you have to have/ really want in a house in one column, the things you'd like to have but are open to a house without those qualities in the 2nd column, and list your deal breakers in the third column. This is your platform, your starting point. And this is probably going to change, but it's going to really help in the long run.

One of my deal breakers was HOAs. That was a deal breaker that wasn't going to change. Another deal breaker was if the house had no type of fence. That deal breaker changed because even though I wanted some type of fence to start with, I knew that I would need to get the fence taken down and a new fence installed the following day anyway with pretty much any house in order to meet my standards for the dogs (I have to have a 6' tall privacy fence with no spaces in between the panels and no openings at the bottom of the fence). I was not finding much in the price range I wanted to stay in and in a good neighborhood with a fence. So ultimately, I decided to nix the fence requirement and it definitely gave me a lot more options.

4. Do Not Settle... Completely
You might get so frustrated that you are willing to just settle with any house. Don't. Believe me, I've gotten to that point myself but dragged myself out of there. Get on the computer everyday if you can to search for houses and review your lists and see if anything can be edited or tweaked. The house for you is out there. And sometimes you might find a really great house, or it might seem great b/c you were at the point of throwing the towel in, but it is just a tad over your budget. A lot of people are willing to overlook that and jump to make an offer. Don't! You have to really think about this. Think about the extra costs you will face with being homeowners and remind yourself of all of the closing costs. Can you really afford it? If you buy this house, will you have to live paycheck to paycheck or on a super tight budget for the next 15-30 years? This is really important. Don't be so quick to jump all in. I have been here as well. When I felt like I wasn't going to find anything right for me, I found a gorgeous house. It wasn't exactly what I wanted but I loved it. And then I snapped myself out of it. It was out of the budget I had given myself. So I did the smart responsible thing and didn't go look at it or even tell my realtor about it.

5. Do Not Put in a Full Listing Price Offer or Your Maximum Budget Amount
It's really up to you, but you really shouldn't. I was actually close to doing this on my new house but my realtor, being the good realtor he is, told me not to. When you put in an offer, there will most likely end up being some negotiating back and forth if they don't completely reject your offer altogether. If you can get the house cheaper- then why the hell not?! If you start a little low, it gives you room to negotiate and increase a potential counter offer so that you are aren't going over your budget and still have a chance at buying the house. The sellers of the house I bought rejected my first offer and came back with a counter offer of the full listing price BUT they agreed to pay 6% seller help, which was very important to me so that I didn't have to pay as much in closing costs at settlement. Some people also think about making an offer that is more than the listing price because they want the house so bad. This sometimes works but besides the costs and potential unexpected expenses, you have to think about the appraisal. What happens if the appraisal comes back and it's less than the amount you offered? The bank isn't going to approve your mortgage loan. And then you have to see if there are any other possible options or you are left heartbroken and back to square one.

6. Don't Forget About Inspections!
When house hunting and considering putting an offer on a house, keep in mind that although the house looks great, it might not pass inspection. It might need a lot of work done to it in order for it to pass and the seller might not be willing to pay some or all of those expenses. So if you want the house and they aren't willing to fix things, then you have to pay for it. Sometimes there will be just minor cosmetic things to fix but there could be some hefty expensive repairs needed. Just keep that in the back of your mind.

7. Taxes and Homeowner's Insurance
Taxes and homeowner's insurance get added into your monthly mortgage payment. In some cities and states, you have to pay extra taxes. In Pa, you have to also pay school taxes. This will increase your monthly mortgage payment. The taxes on a house can range greatly from city to city. The taxes for my new house are almost double the amount I paid on the old house.

On the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) you receive from your mortgage broker, the estimated price for mortgage insurance will most likely be less than what it will actually cost you. So before you get homeowner's insurance for the house and get that final amount locked in, your estimated monthly mortgage payment on your GFE will usually be lower than what it will actually be unless your interest rate decreases when they lock in everything or something. Just keep those things in mind because things can always change.

8. Don't Do Anything that Could Jeopardize Your Ability to Pay Your Closing Costs at Settlement
Some people forget they had a trip/ vacation planned or get so excited that their offer on a house got accepted that they go take a trip or do something to celebrate. Then they end up spending too much and don't have enough money to cover their closing costs. Be responsible and just wait until settlement is over and everything is official.

9. Expenses in the First Week to the First Month 
During the first week to the first month of living in your new house is probably going to be the most expensive. Besides the fact that you are going to be buying a bunch of stuff for the house and starting the process of making it your home, a lot of things tend to break or you find out they are broken and need to be replaced during that time. I have gotten pretty lucky so far *Knock on Wood*. I would consider the majority of my stuff pretty minor but at the same time, I haven't lived here for a full month just yet.

10. Relax and Breathe
As I've said before, it will all work out. What is meant to be is meant to be and everything happens for a reason. Do everything you can and don't give up.

I hope this helps!

-Heather

Monday, October 19, 2015

Get Ready to imPRESS

   I'll admit that while I am girly, I am not your typical girly girl. I have only gotten my nails done professionally maybe 5 times in my life. While getting your nails done at the salon is relaxing, it can be timely and costly. So then I end up resorting to painting my nails myself. Easy right? Wrong. I suck at painting my nails and it's mainly because I am just so impatient. It is so hard for me to just sit there waiting for them to dry without doing anything or touching anything. This girl does not have time for that. And of course then I have to hope the dogs don't bump into my nails or that will end up being a real mess.



   But now there is a new alternative on the market... imPRESS Manicure. imPRESS Manicure is a nail polish alternative in the form of press-on nails. There's no dry time, no mess, and they are waterproof. They are so easy to use and last up to one whole week. Just peel off the backing and press on.




   With the ultra-hold adhesive technology you would think that the press-on nails would be difficult to get off but it's just as easy as the application. You can either peel the nails off from the sides or apply polish remover around the edges, wait 1 minute, and then peel them off.




   The only real timely portion (which can also be a slight downfall) is that during the first 1/2 hour, you have to repeatedly press on the nails and have to wait one hour before you can cut or file the nails and before you can expose them to water.

   You can find imPRESS Manicure at Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Kmart stores nationwide and they are less than $10!!! For more information, head on over to http://impressmanicure.com/

-Heather

*Sponsored Post*
*You can read my Disclosure Policy at the bottom of my page*
 

Monday, October 12, 2015

I'm Still Here

   Hey everyone! I'm still here and didn't bail on y'all, I promise. Sooo I've kept this on the DL and had only told a few people and was very vague to others but... I sold my house (I also announced this on Instagram and Facebook already). I actually sold it in less than a week but the closing date was 60 days after because of my buyer's type of loan. Some loans require 60 days. So on Friday, October 2nd, settlement for the sale of my house and the purchase of my new house took place! The old house is officially sold and I officially have a new house to turn into our home.

   I had thought I would have time to update y'all last week but moving and unpacking is EXHAUSTING. Luckily I had my new man to help and I'll admit, he did a lot of the work with bringing in the boxes, etc. Between buying necessities for the house, getting a fence installed, cleaning, going through boxes, unpacking boxes, and trying to put things away, I just haven't had time. I still have a lot more unpacking to do and a hell of a lot more stuff to actually put away and organize but it's all coming together. I'm hoping to get two rooms painted this weekend or next weekend, so we will see if that actually happens.

   I've made a few purchases for the new house already but not too many since I still have a lot of stuff to put away and I'm not trying to go broke. It'll be a lengthy process and I will definitely need to start taking pictures for y'all and let you in on my plans for the house.

   I promise I'm going to really try to get back on posting more each week but I know that it may take a while to get to that point with everything going on. Anyways, I just wanted to give a little update and let y'all know that I'm not going anywhere. Stay tuned for more posts!

-Heather

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Weekend Recap

   Oh my Lord it is almost Friday!!! I have very exciting news for you but I probably won't get around to it until next week. Either way, just keep an eye out for that post!

   Sooo I don't have much to say about this past weekend/ week and not a whole lot of pictures but oh well, this will do. Who's that new guy in the first picture? His name is Jesse and as of 9/23/15, we are officially boyfriend and girlfriend and I couldn't be happier. And Audrey loves him! I mean, Gemma and Tigger do too, but I wasn't that surprised that those 2 love him. The thing that is so special about Audrey loving him is that she is so scared of men and new people, but especially men. Even family members that are men that she has seen a good amount of times, she is still scared of. After 2- 3 days of Jesse hanging around, she decided she loves him and that he is her slave. She is actually acting towards him like she acts towards me and that is pretty much unheard of. So I think that's a really good sign :) *Knock on Wood*
 So freakin' precious! Adorabull. This makes my heart melt.

Of course I had to take a date night picture but I ended up changing my shirt since the dogs covered it with hair before Jesse even got to my house to pick me up. And I forgot to get pictures from Saturday evening when I met some of Jesse's family. No surprise there, I forget to take pictures quite often.

 Dunkin' Donuts iced latte and a Penn State themed donut. Yummm.

 He cooks! Burgers and fries (the fries were left over from Friday night's dinner).

 And I surprised him with dinner on Monday night. He had to stay a little late at work, so I took advantage of that. As soon as I got home, while taking care of the dogs, I went to my Pinterest food board and found a quick and easy recipe that I have never made before. Blackened Chicken Alfredo. So I rushed to the store and back and had it finished just in time. The only part of the recipe I didn't follow was the homemade alfredo sauce. I just went with store bought alfredo sauce but this was sooo freakin' deliscious!

Tuesday night he cooked. The best chicken stir fry I have ever had. 

   I have so much to tell y'all, like forreal but I don't want to jinx it and you will just have to wait and find out :) Have great weekend everyone!

-Heather