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Top 10 Pre-Listing Home Improvements

ImageThe devil is really in the details when buyers look at a home. Lots of everyday wear and tear that you don’t even notice can ding your home in the eyes of potential buyers. Here’s my list of ten simple improvements you can do to help your Parkland area home sell faster:

1.  Spruce up your baseboards: Pets, kids, and stumbling husbands in the dark can make a mess of your baseboards. Repainting baseboards after repairing scratches with putty can make the border of any room look new.

2.  Fill in nail holes: Part of interior repainting should be careful attention to those errant nail holes from pictures, shelves, and other wall-mounted baubles. Putty, smooth, sand and paint!

3.  Sniff for smokers: Filter replacement is a must if someone’s been puffing in your home. Also wash down those walls, prime them to seal in any cooked-in nicotine, and repaint.  Be sure to check entryways and lawns for cigarette butts, too!

4.  Review the roof: Do you have missing shingles? Broken tiles or slates? Is mold and moss sprouting up there? Do some cleaning and spot replacing.

5.  Reinforce your gutters: Clean them out, dry them out, then caulk them to prevent leaks. This will keep water off the siding, reducing staining and damage.

6.  Replace bad vinyl floors: Not only are they tacky when they’re cracked or cut, but they can suggest water damage to buyers.

7.  Repair dripping faucets: Buyers will turn faucets on and off. What will they find? If your sinks and baths dribble, fix them before buyers imagine their future headache.

8.  Tune up screens: Did you have a dog that liked to lean against the front door? Look for the sagging, hanging, bent, and bubbling screens, especially around doors. New screens look clean. Old screens suggest neglect.

9.  Patch cabinet scratches: Tibet Almond Stick, Old English Scratch Cover, or even some artful re-staining can make cabinets seem new. Remember to polish them up when you’re done!

10.  Reseal wobbly toilets: If the bowl moves when you sit on it, the bolts are rusted, or the bathroom floor is damp and discolored around the commode, replace the toilet or at the very least reseal it.

Looking for more tips and information on selling your home quickly and for the best price?  Our “2013 Home Selling Guide” is hot off the presses and available for the asking.  Just call us at 484-893-1234 or send an email with your address to homes@debandjoe.com.

Don’t Get Taken For A Ride by Moving Companies

ImageThere are lots of good reasons to hire a moving company. It lowers your moving day stress, saves your back, and with the right company can ensure that your goods are safe from accidental damage. 

But for every sweet song of a smooth move, there are an equal number of “moving company blues” tunes out there. From a few sad notes of regret to total devastation, making a mistake when hiring a moving company can be an experience you’ll never forget! 

Here are some tips to help make the right move when it comes to choosing partners for your next relocation:

1) Get in-house estimates for your move from anywhere between 2 to 4 companies. Many may say they don’t need to see your stuff to estimate the cost, but the fact is a reputable company will want to see your place first-hand.

2) Do your legal homework on the moving company. Trustworthy companies will have their Motor Carrier number and D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) license information posted online (or with their materials). Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) for complaints and do a little research on Yelp.com for customer reviews.

3) Don’t commit to a big deposit or other down payment. Shady operators can abscond with you money and/or hold your possessions hostage to extort “excess fuel charges” or other bogus price changes.

4) Never go with the low-ball offer. If you get three estimates within the same range and one that’s substantially lower, what does that tell you about the quote? Don’t let cheap impulses turn into expensive mistakes.

5) Get referrals from friends, co-workers, and even your H.R. department (assuming you work for a company that deals with relocations). Also… ask your real estate agent! 

Are you looking for referrals for a trustworthy moving company? I’d be glad to provide you with private references. Contact me for the information today at 484-893-1234 or homes@debandjoe.com.

Warning: Resolutions ahead!

ImageAre you going to be one of the few who look back one year from now with the extreme satisfaction of having kept your promises to yourself? Or will you be among the millions who vow to try again next year?

I want you to be in the first category, and I want to help you see your goals become reality. So in that spirit, I thought I’d share a few strategies and tools for success this year.

1) Have you really articulated your goal? Is it “be in better shape” or is it “lose 30 pounds”? A degree of specificity is a must, because you’ll need an objective against which you can measure your efforts.

2) Have you gotten excited about your goal? Have you imagined the outcome? Don’t be ashamed to really visualize yourself enjoying the spoils of your hard work. Imagine yourself sharing your success story with pride.

3) Share your goals! Don’t keep your dreams in the closet where no one can see them. Public declaration not only helps you find third-party support from friends and family, but putting them out there makes them harder to abandon when motivation flags.

4) Don’t give in to “all or none” thinking. When you slip, lose focus, or encounter setbacks, don’t use them as license to give up. It will feel worse to crawl back after a blow-out than it will to forgive yourself and pick up where you left off. Accept that progress matters more than perfection.

5) Leverage apps and other technology to help you make progress. Automatic reminders, social networks, and other goal-specific tools can help. (Check out this article on “5 Apps for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions: http://mashable.com/2012/12/27/apps-new-years-resolutions/)

So what are your goals? Comment below! No time like the present to make your dreams public.

(Of course, if one of your goals is to buy or sell a home, I’d be happy to play a big part in helping you reach that objective! Contact me today: by phone at 484-893-1234 or at joe@debandjoe.com.)

Here’s to Lucky ’13!

Video Tips Make Home Repair Easier

tile work largerIf you’re like many home owners in the Lehigh Valley, you’ve probably come across a few things in your home that you’d like to upgrade or renovate. There are lots of home projects that aren’t too complicated to complete if you have a good guide. In that spirit, I thought I’d share four great channels on YouTube full of home maintenance and repair videos.

These channels have videos for a wide range of jobs and even include some reviews on tools you might want to have handy. You can save a lot of money (and really enjoy your home) when you learn more about taking care of it.
Here are my top four picks:

HomeAdditionPlus http://www.youtube.com/user/HomeAdditionPlus

AskTheBuilder.com http://www.youtube.com/user/AsktheBuilder

Ron Hazelton http://www.youtube.com/user/ronhazelton

VideoJug http://www.youtube.com/user/VideoJug

Good luck with your projects! If you have a favorite site that’s not on the list let me know so we can share it with our other readers and clients.  Also be sure to let us know about your results!

You Think You’re Nervous?

A delicate subject I sometimes have to approach with clients selling their home is the importance of steering clear of showings and open houses while prospective buyers are touring their home.

It can be touchy. After all, how do you kick someone out of their own house? Many sellers are anxious about the showing and open house process. They feel the need to hover in the wings, which I understand. There are several reasons why this is not the best idea.

 Four Reasons Why Owners Sticking Around for a Showing/Open House is a Bad Idea:

 1. I’ve had experiences where prospective buyers have actually passed on a showing once they’ve found out the current owners were home.

2. It’s important that buyers be able to visualize the home as “theirs already.” They need to be able to imagine living in the house, which is pretty tough to do with the owners making a sandwich in the kitchen. 

3. Presence of a seller makes the prospective buyer feel guilty for “judging” the home. If the buyer isn’t given free range to evaluate the home, the doubt is enough to put them off the property entirely.

4. If all goes well, the buyer may want to stay for a time at the house and chat with the agent. This is a good sign (it means the buyer may be moving towards an offer), but with the seller present, it’s all but impossible.

I try not to offend my clients when I ask them to understand these reasons. While I empathize with the nervousness that accompanies the sales process, my goal is the smooth sale of their home. A little space for the prospective buyers is an important ingredient.

 Stress-free showings are just one part of our approach to marketing your home to sell. Get in touch and I’ll gladly show you what else we can do to get you top dollar for your home: joe@debandjoe.com or call me at 484-893-1234.

The Important Final Step When Buying a Home

Too many people fail to appreciate the importance of a final walk-through.

As a buyer, your last moment of leverage is signing on the (many!) lines during closing. Just before that day, though, you should do a final walk-through of the home you’re buying. While you might think a quick glance through the rooms is enough, you’d be well advised to take your time.

In fact, a good walk-through should take at least 30 minutes, depending on the size of the home. You might even want to consider hiring a home inspector to revisit the place to make sure any repairs essential to the deal were taken care of properly.

Don’t perform the walk-through too early, either. No more than two days at most. If you complete the walk-through too soon, there’s always a chance severe weather or other adverse events could damage the home. (Recent weather events are also a good reason to check for leaks or water in unexpected places.)

Be sure to check appliances, light switches, heating and air conditioning systems, garage doors, and any other major systems (pool pumps and heaters) along the way, too.

Should you come across anything that raises alarms, be sure to look for a way to settle the issue in a friendly, non-confrontational manner. While you don’t want to jeopardize the closing, you may be well within your rights to seek some sort of concession from the seller.

Even with short sales and foreclosed properties, you’ll want to do a walk-through to make sure all appliances and fixtures promised are still in place before the closing. (A home might be “as is,” but it’s definitely “as is” under the terms of the contract! Don’t get shorted.)

On the whole, the walk-through is an exciting time… after all, it’s almost yours! But don’t let excitement cloud your good sense. Use a little of this walk-through wisdom to protect your investment!

I’m always on the lookout for my clients. If you need representation for buying or selling a home, please get in touch today: email me at joe@debandjoe.com or call our office at 484-893-1234.

Keeping Cool for Less

Thermometer showing that it's hotHeat waves can take a major bite out of your monthly budget. If you’re looking for ways to take some of the teeth out of your power bill, here are some ways to stay cool and save money this summer:

Thermostat Ping Pong: Set reminders to up your thermostat when you’re not going to be home or when you’re sleeping. Bumping up the temperature a few degrees can add up significantly over the course of a month.

Get Out of Dodge: Do you work from home? Take that laptop on the road. Turn up the temperature at home and find cool libraries, cafes, or other public spaces where the A/C bill is someone else’s problem.

Shade the A/C: Providing shade for your A/C unit can drive up the unit’s efficiency by 10%. While trees and shrubs can shade your house and absorb heat, the same is true for the equipment keeping you cool!

Screen that Sun: Install solar screens on your windows to block around 70 percent of the solar energy streaming into your house.

Invoke the “No Stove” Rule: Hot summer months are the perfect time to turn to salads and cooler foods. Keep the stove off and use the microwave for heating. No baking, no frying, no broiling! The excess heat will drive up the temps inside.

Maintain the A/C: When was the last time you changed the filter? Is the unit draining correctly? Drive the efficiency to lower expenses.

Slow Down Your A/C Fan: When it’s humid, slow down the speed of the A/C’s fan. This will allow the A/C to remove more of the moisture from the air before speeding it along.

Of course, a great way to lower expenses is to downsize if you don’t need the space. If you’re looking for a new place, I’d be glad to help you with the search (and the sale of your current home!): Just give me a call at 484-893-1234!