Dear First Time Home Buyer

thIf you are currently in the market for your first home, you may be curious as to how a Real Estate Agent can help you. You are about to be making an important decision for your future, a great investment of both money and time. I have a wealth of experience helping first time buyers, like you, make sound, informed decisions.

Here are some ways that you can benefit from the help of a real estate professional:

  • Agents can help establish a plan for a home that fits your needs. Style, size, amenities, and other preferences will help determine what kind of home is best suited for you.
  • They will help you to determine realistic spending limits. They can often explain alternative financing options or introduce you to a mortgage counselor. Agents can arrange to have you “pre-approved”, which can help improve your positioning in negotiations.
  • Their access to all home listings within the multi-listing system enables them to evaluate based on your affordability and the qualities you desire.
  • They have access to information on taxes, real estate values, utility costs, and municipal services, all of which can aid you in your decision to buy.
  • They provide direct service by working for you as a buyer’s agent, helping to negotiate the best terms and price for you.
  • They can make you comfortable with the closing process and they will obtain closing figures in advance for your review.
  • They can recommend home inspectors, pest inspectors, and surveyors, and can help arrange inspections.

These are just a few ways that a quality real estate agent can help you in your journey towards buying your very first home. More information for first time buyers can be found on my website or by calling me directly. I’m confident that I can provide the kind of exceptional service that will make this process an exciting one. Please feel free to call or e-mail me with any questions you may have.

The Biggest Mistake a Seller Makes

images-1The number one mistake sellers make when they list their home for sale: overpricing it.

While you may think you can always lower the asking price if it doesn’t sell, you’ll actually miss out on buyers, lose opportunities to draw foot traffic, and risk sitting on the market for too long.

The easiest fix: Price your home right so it will sell quickly.

Let me help accurately compare current home sales in your neighborhood and propose your best asking price. I have cool tools that let me look inside the market, access data and compile information that we can review together.

As your local RE/MAX agent, I am ready to help. What questions do you have? Send me an email or give me a call.

Do You Have Two Lists?

photoHouses are as different as people, and finding the right fit can be challenging.

The best approach is to make two lists.

One list is for your needs. These are things you absolutely need in a house to even consider buying it.

The other list is for your wants. These are nice features that you’d like, but they aren’t absolutely crucial.

What’s on your lists? Let me help you sort through what’s on the market today. As your local RE/MAX agent, I can help you find the home that’s perfect for you. Please send me an email or give me a call.

Why would you sell your home in today’s market?

Happy mother with baby

A new job, a new baby, a new spouse, a student heading off to college – there are many reasons why people are selling in today’s market.

The timing for you could be just right.

So what’s your reason? Do you want to upgrade your home or reduce your space?

Give me a call today and let’s talk about what’s selling in today’s market and why you might want to consider.

As your local RE/MAX agent, I’m here to help. Remember, nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX. Let an Agent who knows, guide you!

Simple Tips for Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

imagesYou might assume that making your home energy efficient requires a lot of time and money, but generally that’s not the case. Often small fixes can have a big impact on your heating, cooling, and other utility bills. Here are some easy things you can do to make your home more efficient right now:

Tip #1: Don’t turn that dial

Keep your thermostat set at one temperature and leave it! In the winter around 68 degrees should be right, and 75 degrees in summer (in homes with a cooling system, of course). Avoiding constant adjustments will keep your energy bills stable.

Tip #2: Stop the drip-drips

Leaky shower heads and faucets are hard-to-miss energy wasters. Toilets that run can also cost you on your water bill. The majority of required repairs are covered in the most basic do-it-yourself handbook.

Tip #3: Go fluorescent

While compact fluorescent light bulbs cost more than the standard incandescent bulbs that you’re used to, they last up to five times longer and use only a quarter of the electricity. Many of these bulbs last over five years, and each energy-saving fluorescent bulb will save you $40 to $60 on your electric bill over the course of its lifetime.

Tip #4: Watch that fireplace

Energy can really leak out of that fireplace. Check the dampers and screens to make sure that energy isn’t leaking when the fireplace is not in use. If the fireplace is just for decoration, cover the chimney. A well maintained fireplace should be an economical way to heat your house and add a warm atmosphere as well.

Tip #5: Keep those appliances humming

Clean air conditioning and furnace filters frequently, and have your appliances inspected once a year. Efficient appliances lower energy bills and future repair costs.

Tip #6: Windows that waste

Windows are the most common energy waster. Make sure that all the weather-stripping is in good condition, and consider double-paned windows and storm shutters to reduce the energy drain.

Hopefully these ideas help you create a more energy efficient home. Energy efficiency is not only an important part of conservation; it’s also a great way to save money. More homeowners tips are available on my website. If you have any questions about your home, I’m only a phone call away.

Making Moving Day a Success

imagesWhen relocating or buying a new home, there is one thing that most people dread: moving day. While it can indeed be a hectic day, planning your move weeks in advance can make things much smoother. It’s also important to know what to expect on moving day itself. Here are some things to keep in mind:

# 1: Make final preparations

Strip bedding and put into a “load last” box. Unplug all appliances, leaving cords clearly visible. If you haven’t done so already, defrost your refrigerator and freezer, leaving the doors open.

# 2: Clear a path

Keep packed boxes in a room close to the door but out of the way. Survey for any obstacles that could block carried furniture such as railings or fence gates. Place non-slip rugs in any high traffic areas that could be potentially dangerous.

# 3: Call the sitter

Your family pet should be confined, or better yet, left with a friend. Even the nicest of animals will find a way to be dangerously underfoot. You may also want to leave small children with a friend or sitter during the bustle of the move itself.

# 4: Keep everyone refreshed

Whether you’re using professional movers or just your friends, make sure that everyone is comfortable and hydrated. If it is a hot day, provide lots of cold beverages and snacks. On cold days offer hot chocolate and coffee. Ordering pizza for lunch is a nice way to show everyone you appreciate all the hard work.

# 5: Keep neighbors (old and new) happy

Keep the moving truck from blocking other driveways, and make sure not to walk through your neighbor’s lawn or flowerbeds. Move during the day to avoid disturbing the neighborhood.

# 6: Last walk through

Be sure to leave your old house as clean as you’d hope to find your new one. Check one last time for any forgotten items, leave one or two lights on (to make the home seem warm) and lock all doors and windows.

# 7: Coordinate your move

If using professional movers, ask any remaining questions, finalize all contact information, and sign both the bill of lading and inventory sheet after careful review. Go over the destination address and projected route, as well as expected travel time.

I hope these tips help you as you near your own moving day. You’ll also find more resources for relocation on my website.

If you need any help or have questions about moving companies, I’d love to be of assistance. Together we can ensure that your move becomes a smooth and successful one.

Considerations for Selecting a Real Estate Agent

FullSizeRender11If you’re considering buying or selling a home, selecting a real estate agent is the first important decision you will have to make. While there are many qualified real estate agents out there, it’s important to decide on a professional who will understand your needs and individual preferences, someone who you can respect and trust. Nearly four out of five home buyers and sellers enlist in the help of a real estate professional or broker.Whether you’re looking to buy a new home or sell the one you’re in, choosing a professional who best fits your needs is vital. Here are some questions to consider when choosing an agent:

  • How long have they been a real estate professional?
  • Do they work full or part time?
  • How long have they been working in this particular area?
  • What type of homes do they usually handle?
  • How much of their business comes from repeat customers or referrals?
  • How many homes did they sell last year?
  • How often can you expect to be updated, regardless of any progress?

Above all you should choose an agent that you feel comfortable with. Your real estate professional will be your guide through the entire process of buying or selling a home, and can be a valuable resource. Make sure that whomever you select is well suited to your demands.

I’d love to hear from you and have the opportunity to discuss why I may be right for you. You may also find it worthwhile to explore my website, it has plenty of information to cover your real estate needs. My site allows you to perform very detailed searches using search fields typically reserved only for real estate agents, so it’s a great place to start. Click here for a free home search app!

Please feel free to call or e-mail me with any of your real estate questions, I would be delighted to help you make the process of buying or selling a home a really smooth one.

Easy “Do-it-Yourself” Repairs for Homeowners

10515304_10204672042711186_1152899578990389745_oThe best way to cut down on the potentially high cost of home maintenance is to tackle the simple jobs on your own. Here are some basic repairs that you should be able to handle without too much difficulty:

  • Plugged Sinks- Pull out and clean the sink stopper. If the problem persists, turn off the water supply under the sink before removing and clearing the trap (the curved section of drainpipe under the sink). Avoid using chemicals if you suspect a serious blockage.
  • Plugged Toilet- The first resort is the tried and true toilet plunger. If that doesn’t work, use a plumber’s snake to clear the pipe.
  • Electrical Failure- Check the circuit breaker to see if the circuit has been tripped to the off position. If it has been tripped to the off position, check to see if there are household items that may be overloading the circuit. Unplug those items and check the circuit again. Call a certified Electrician if the problem is persistent. After all, my rule of thumb is; if it can kill you, call a professional!
  • Leaky faucet- Shut off the water under the sink and replace the washer on the faucet. If the dripping persists, you may need a new faucet unit.
  • Damp basement- Make sure that gutters extend away from the house and that the earth is graded away from the walls. A dehumidifier can help dry the air, but you may need to call a professional if you find cracks in the foundation.
  • Damaged caulking- Crumbling caulk around tiles, windows and doors needs to be replaced periodically. Caulking guns and caulk run about $20 total and are easy to use.
  • Gouges or holes in walls or woodwork- Holes in plaster walls and drywall are easily fixed with plaster patching compound or spackling compound, respectively. Holes in woodwork should be filled with wood putty and sanded lightly. Refinishing may be necessary.

I hope these tips help you with the upkeep of your home! I’d be happy to give you recommendations for home repair experts should your house need additional attention. Let me know if I can be of assistance in any way.

Determining the Market Value of your Home

thYou’ve decided to sell your home, so what is next? Pricing your home is obviously a key part of the home selling process. A home that is under-priced needlessly costs the client potential return. An over-priced home can remain on the market for an extended amount of time, forcing the seller to either wait out a long listing period or have to adjust down the asking price. Getting the pricing right from the start avoids these potential pitfalls.

To get us started I will prepare for you what is called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of your house. This compares your home to others in the area that are either currently listed, under contract, or have recently sold. Other things that can factor into the CMA are supply and demand, craftsmanship, and the amenities of your home.

The CMA will help us to determine the fair market value. What is “fair market value”, you may ask? In short, fair market value is the highest price that an informed buyer will pay for your home. Establishing fair market value will enable us to sit down and discuss in detail the pricing of your home. I want to help you settle on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with the current market.

I understand that all of this can be a bit overwhelming, so feel free to call or e-mail me at any time. Please also explore my website; Click here to learn more. It has a lot of information to cover your real estate needs. I’m here not only to sell your home, but also to serve as a resource for you during this exciting time. I would love to be of assistance to you.

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

thIf you are currently in the market for your first home, you probably have lots of questions. You are about to be making an important decision for your future, a great investment of both money and time. I have a wealth of experience helping first time buyers, like you, make sound, informed decisions. Here are some tips that can help make your home buying process successful:

  • Tip #1: Do Your Homework
    The perfect home won’t find you by itself. The key step in buying a home is doing the proper research. Educate yourself on local schools, neighborhoods, and the kinds of homes available. By reading available materials and talking with experts, you can start to put together your idea of the perfect home.
  • Tip #2: Start Planning
    Most decisions benefit greatly from proper planning, and home buying is certainly no exception. Start a filing system with sections such as home buying, home financing, and service providers. By forming a home buying plan you can more easily focus on the most important factors and help give structure to the entire process. My website is a great resource for property information.
  • Tip #3: Get PreQualified
    Getting prequalified for a loan normally only requires a short phone conversation with a lender, and can greatly help your home search. Prequalification does not guarantee you a loan, but it does provide you with an estimated monthly payment and a price range to use as a guide when shopping for homes. Being prequalified can also often indicate to sellers that you are a serious, prepared buyer. Click here for more information
  • Tip #4: Look for Value
    When shopping for homes, it’s important to consider potential value. Even if you’re not planning to sell the home some time down the line, it’s a good idea to consider the future value of the home. Protect yourself against things like falling prices and gradual shifts in the nature of the neighborhood. You may not think of a new home as a means to make money, but it’s an important investment that requires caution.
  • Tip #5: Decide What You’re Looking For
    Settle on the home features that are important to you (covered parking, hardwood floors, architectural style, etc.) and make an ordered list. Having well established guidelines will help narrow down your search and will prevent you from being shown properties that lack your key amenities. It can help you make the decision not to buy an attractive property that doesn’t really fit your needs. My website has a search feature that allows you to filter thousands of listings based on attributes that you select. If you know you want a brick house with gas heat and a garage, you can get the results you’re looking for.
  • Tip #6: Relax
    You don’t have to make an offer on the first home you see. Make sure to look at other listings in the area to get a feel for the marketplace. When you decide to make an offer on a house, consult with your real estate professional so that all of your questions are answered.
  • Tip #7: Shop Around for Your Mortgage
    Deciding on the financing for your home can be as important as choosing a home itself. The first step is deciding what kind of loan best fits you: a fixed rate mortgage, or an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). There are benefits to each form of loan, and your real estate professional can provide you with more information. Next you’ll want to begin to shop around for different lenders. Click here for more information
  • Tip #8: Protect Yourself
    Be careful when signing a contract on a home that allows you to find financing, have the home inspected, and work through any problem areas that may arise. Paying for a quality home inspection is absolutely crucial! You can save yourself thousands in repair costs by being sure of what you’re getting into.

More information for first time buyers can be found on my website, or by giving me a call. I’m confident that I can provide the kind of exceptional service that will make this process an exciting one. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, I would love to be of assistance to you.

Price Your Home with Confidence

Ad ImageSold Home Alert® is a complimentary, private service that gives you monthly emails and a searchable website with recent home sales and active for sale listings. You can better determine the value of your home by watching what’s selling in your neighborhood. If you are buying, selling, refinancing or just curious, then Sold Home Alert is for you.

To receive Sold Home Alert, contact me today! Visit our webpage for detailed instructions to download the app directly to  your phone or tablet, and use VIP Code; CindyS

 

Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?

Nicole ProjectThe sale of your home can depend a great deal on whether or not it has Curb Appeal. What is Curb Appeal? Simply put, it is anything visible to a prospective buyer from the street that makes them want to see more of the house. Curb Appeal can be a powerful force in attracting potential buyers to your home. But how do you ensure that your house has as much Curb Appeal as possible?

Here are some easy places to start:

  • Make sure the lawn is mowed, and all trees and bushes are well trimmed.
  • Place planters of flowers or hanging baskets on the porch.
  • See that all flowerbeds are weeded and freshly mulched.
  • Check that the front door is attractive and freshly painted.
  • Consider re-painting the exterior of your house.
  • Give the outside of your home a good scrub: clean the windows, patio furniture, driveway and sidewalks.
  • Finally, make sure your house numbers are visible, your mailbox is in excellent condition, and that all porch and outside lights are working properly. You want interested buyers to find your home easily!

These are just a few ideas to get you started in preparation for selling your home. Once the home is ready to be put up for sale, it can be listed on my website, where it can get the attention of thousands of prospective buyers. I’d love to sit down and talk with you on other strategies for marketing your home. I look forward to hearing from you. View my RE/MAX Site

Prequalification vs Preapproval

th-1If you’re considering the purchase of a new home, you may be concerned with the issue of finance. Obtaining the right mortgage is a key step in the home buying process, but it doesn’t have to be a stress-inducing one. Most lenders offer prequalification, pre-approval or both to help you know where you stand. Let me explain the difference between prequalification and preapproval:

  • Prequalification: Prequalification is a preliminary estimate of how much you can afford to pay for a home based on information you provide. Because credit and employment information aren’t validated for prequalification, it can only be considered a rough idea of a monthly mortgage payment and loan size. This can be a useful guide as you begin the home buying process, however.
  • Preapproval: Preapproval is a written commitment from a lender to finance your home purchase up to a set amount. This indicates that the lender has taken a close look into your financial history and has agreed to lend you a specific amount of money, reliant on certain details like a finalized sales contract and professional inspection. Pre-approval indicates to sellers that you are a serious homebuyer.

Regardless of which option you utilize, or even if you take both steps, you’ll be able to shop with much more confidence. Why wait until you find the perfect home to discover problems with obtaining a mortgage? Take the next step!

If you would like more information on how either process can help you get into the home of your dreams, give me a call. I’d be happy to answer any of your real estate needs.

How to Start a Home Search

What’s the best way to start a home search?RCE Slider 1A

If you’re thinking of buying a home for the first time, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed by the idea of it all. You have to think about whether or not to use a buyer’s agent, how to secure a mortgage, and what exactly it is that you’re looking for in a home. Most people forget to do one important thing: breathe.

The search for your first home can be stressful, so try to take it one step at a time. Even if you haven’t decided whether or not to use a real estate agent, I’d be happy to help you get started. Sometimes the most important thing is getting pointed in the right direction.

Before you start clicking through new home listings on the internet, save yourself time upfront. Make sure you’ve pre-approved by a reputable lender that knows our local market.

Not sure who to call? Let me help. I work with lenders every day and can share my experience. Download this App to Start Your Search

Just Listed in Naperville!

 

3920 Callander Ct , Naperville, Illinois 60564 $599,900 5 Bedroom 5 1/2 Bath 5140 SQ FTDSC_4763

Tamarack West! Aspen built home. Open concept eat-in kitchen with island, granite counters, high end SS appliances; Viking Refrigerator, Thermador gas cook top & hood, Thermador double oven, Kitchen Aid diswasher & walk-in pantry.

Bright all-season room off kitchen. Coffered ceilings, rec’d lighting. Multiple fireplaces. 1st floor office & laundry, 2nd floor loft overlooking 1 acre yard and pond. Spacious Master Bedroom Suite. 3 car garage. Back deck and brick paver patio. DSC_4761

Unfinished English Basement. Zoned heating, dual HWH, 200AMP Service. Near schools, expressways and shopping.

Needs some TLC. Property sold AS-IS. Bring your ideas. ***Short Sale*** Working with experienced Negotiator and Attorney. Quick close. Call 708-288-2098 for additional information.

DSC_4724

The Power of a Referral!

20150901_102550_resizedSprint offers a referral program that allows existing clients to receive a $50 AMEX Gift Card when you refer a new customer.

Thank you Sharon, for using the referral program. Not only did Sharon receive $200 in AMEX Gift Cards, but so did I! Never underestimate the power of referrals or the effort behind networking. Thank you Sharon. These gift cards will come in handy.

Give me a shout, jingle, text or e-mail to learn more about this program as well as many other programs out there.

 

Which is Better? Renting vs Owning?

20150802_105440_resizedIs it better to rent or own?

A great place to start:  Look at a dollar-and-cents comparison:

A monthly rent payment goes into your landlord’s pocket. After 5 years of paying rent, you don’t have much to show for it.

A monthly home payment goes to your lender and reduces your loan balance. You also can get two things your never see as a renter; home equity and tax benefits.

The question is whether you want to pay to borrow something or pay to own something.

Let me show you the numbers to help you decide if you’re ready to buy. Start Searching Today

Which Neighborhood is Right for YOU?

Nicole ProjectCommuting can be a big deal in a home purchase decision. Sometimes, finding a home in the right location can be harder than you think.

Finding the right neighborhood – a place that works for you, your family, your job, your hobbies, and your priorities – can be challenging.

Let me be your neighborhood expert. I’ll help you find a place that’s perfect for you and yours. Start Searching Today

Where Do You Want to Live?

UR0072hiRenting ties you down until your lease expires and you’re free to move. But moving can be a hassle – a huge hassle – and that’s one reason why renters often become buyers.

Do you really want to live in a place where you may be forced to move because your landlord wants to move in? It could happen; just ask your friends.

When you buy, you buy more than a house. You buy a lifestyle. Backyards. Pets. Great neighbors. Block parties. Community. A sense of belonging. The list goes on and on.

It’s simple: living on a street with other homeowners is different – and often better – than moving again and again. It’s more lasting. More solid. More secure.

Where do you want to live? In a place you own, or in a place owned by someone else? Start your search here