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Winter Wonderland Selling?

The holiday seasons are upon us and inevitably, whether selling or buying, you may be asking yourself; “Should I continue to market my home/search for my new home from post-Thanksgiving until post-New Years. Review the pros and cons of both.

SELLING PROS:

  • Many other sellers remove their homes from the marketplace during this time which reduces your competition. Lower inventory means that you can stand out to those that are shopping and possibly be rewarded with a higher price.
  • The fact is that regardless of the season, there are always buyers in the market to purchase due to job transfers, divorces, end of leases, seasonal closing on their own home that they’ve sold and people who want to take advantage of the current low interest rate before it goes up.
  • As long as you don’t go overboard, the sights, sounds and aromas of the season cause buyers to imagine what it will be like to enjoy their own holiday gatherings in front of your roaring fire and beautifully displayed Dining Room table.

SELLING CONS:

  • The number of buyers shopping during the holidays is smaller than in the more active spring season.
  • If you live in an area that experiences extremes of cold, snow and ice, you have the added task of making sure your exterior areas are clear and safe to travel. You also need to prepare yourself for the frustration of no shows and reschedules in the event of inclement weather.
  • If you do a lot of entertaining, you might have to be more diligent with regard to keeping your home “show ready”.
  • In many areas affected by the time change, it gets dark a lot earlier making evening appointments more challenging thus you should prepare yourself to be doing more weekend showings.

BUYING PROS:See the source image

  • The reason someone may have their home on the market during the holidays is because they have a “need to be sold by” deadline ie: starting a new job, moving to help out with a family situation, downsizing due to a job loss or reduction in income, etc. This may provide a great opportunity to purchase your dream home at a reduced price.
  • Due to less homes being sold during the holiday season, title companies may have a more open schedule to ensure the closing date you prefer.
  • Like the “Greek restaurant dilemma” of a menu that is so large it’s hard to make a decision, by having fewer homes to choose from, your shopping process may be far less stressful and more effective.

BUYING CONS:

  • Since many people take their homes off the market at this time, you will have less inventory from with to choose.
  • Due to holiday entertaining, viewing appointments may be more difficult to schedule BUT keep in mind if someone is choosing to sell during this season, they will most likely work with you to find a convenient time.
  • If you live in an area with inclement weather, getting to and from appointments might be more challenging.
  • In many regions, with the time change, it gets dark a lot earlier making evening appointments more difficult (hard to see addresses, hard to see exterior negatives about the home) which means you will most likely want to schedule viewings for the weekend, which can be more difficult. That said, if the seller is motivated, they will understand the local weather impediments and most likely be willing to be accommodating. See the source image 

Whether you’re selling or buying, you can take advantage of the holiday season to achieve your desired result and toast in your Happiest New Year!!

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Virtual Staging Provides Cost Effectiveness and Results!

With the onset of Covid and a desire to make staging more affordable for sellers, virtual staging software is a new and exciting part of the staging industry. This allows sellers to upload photos of their vacant rooms to a computer program and then literally furnish those spaces like a model home. If you would like to stage your home but have not done so due to the often very high cost of bringing in a staging company and paying rental on the furniture along with the labor cost of using a physical company. If this is something that you have been wanting to pursue, I’ve listed below several national company websites. You can also search online for local companies that offer this as part of their services. Happy Selling!

https://stuccco.conm/virtual-staging

https://3dstagers.com/virtual-staging

www.padstyler.com/virtual-staging

virtualstagingrenderinggroup.com

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Create Your Own Pumpkin Patch Fun!

With Covid-19 still being an issue in many areas, the fun and joy of hay rides to the pumpkin patch, laughing with strangers seeking the same perfect pumpkin and warming up with hot apple cider has been cancelled. But the season has not and the enjoyment of ringing in autumn is still in our hearts so here are a few ideas to help you create your own “waiting for the great pumpkin” event.

  • If you have a few friends or neighbors who are in your ‘safe’ group, plan for the adults to each bring a few to several pumpkins (depending on the number of children) to your home (or one of the other’s homes). For extra fun, have all the kids wear their halloween costumes.
  • Decorate your yard with scarecrows, gourds and scary spiders/skeletons/black cats. Set up a couple of decorated tables or picnic tables with bundles of markers or paints as a pumpkin decorating area.
  • Create a few different piles of pumpkins around the yard and let the kids go on a pumpkin hunt….littlest children getting first dibs.
  • Once all the pumpkins have been chosen, let the kids enjoy hot apple cider or hot chocolate (you can certainly enhance your own cider or chocolate with a bit of libations) while decorating their pumpkins. If there are older children let them go ahead and have their own carving station and provide safe pumpkin carving tools. They can even take on the role of helping to carve the little kids’ pumpkins if they want them to do so.Image result for free images of kids decorating pumpkins
  • If you feel so inclined you can also enjoy a fun version of dunking for apples by having a bucket full of apples in water and letting them “fish” for their apple. Then let them dunk them in melted caramel and walnut pieces to make perfect taffy apples.
  • As the evening draws near and the darkness of dusk falls, light up the jack o lanterns so all the kSee the source imageids can see their fun creations together then they can take them home to create their own home pumpkin show.

No matter what is going on, it’s important to still create wonderful memories for ourselves and our children. This can be done with as big a group as you feel comfortable with having together. Kids and grownups alike will have a special memory to enjoy and remember! Happy Autumn!!

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Moving Cross Country…Tips to Keep You Sane!

So recently, after 39 years in my home, I made my first move cross country to start a new life journey but didn’t want to spend $15-20,000 using a traditional moving company. So I explored other options and eventually chose to rent a UHaul Truck and movers to load it, drive it and unload it at the other end. I figured I would rather do all my own packing anyway to decide what will get sold, donated, tossed or packed and really how hard could that be? Turns out, pretty darn hard. With a leaning toward sentimentality and having raised my only child in my home, selling and donating was tough and tossing was even harder! BUT I will admit that once I started selling some things I got more conducive to the idea. By the time I moved, I was giving stuff away!! So here’s some tips to help you on your way!

UHaul: The UBox is ridiculously small and though it might be good for a move across town or taking a child to college, it is NOT a good choice for cross country moves no matter what their Infomercial says. Seriously small!!

UHaul 26ft Truck: This was my choice as all their literature and employees stated that this would accommodate a 3-4 bedroom home. And let me say, when you look at an empty 26ft truck trailer, you will be convinced your things will fit. Reality, maybe a 1-2BR home at the most. I moved one set of bedroom furniture, one mattress, a sofa, loveseat and twin sleeper plus 4 desks and a few incidental small tables….NO dining room, other 3 bedrooms, kitchen, family room, appliances, washer dryer NONE of THAT! I had lots of bins and boxes but hey, without all that extra furniture it should fit, right? Wrong. Ended up having to buy a 14′ trailer to attach to my daughter’s truck which was also full to make the 1100 mile drive across country.

Granted moving this way saved me probably $10000 in costs and so I would do it again, just smarter and better!

I’m still glad I packed myself as I made sure I have what is most important to me with me in my new home. One thing that made it difficult was that I wasn’t confirmed on the deal going through until 2 weeks before closing so I had to leave a lot of packing until the last minute so the home would still be staged properly in case it had to go back on the market. These are all factors I was not aware of when I started the process but know now and want to pass on so that your move can be less stressful, more joyful and an experience you can look back on as a good part of your new journey.

The key is recognizing that your past memories will be with you forever and your new memories are lying ahead. Give yourself the authority to move forward so when you look back it’s with joy and appreciation for the blessings you enjoyed. Home truly is where your heart is and with the people who mean the most to you.

Happy Journey!

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Window Choices to Add Beauty…Light…Energy Efficiency

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating your existing one, flipping a house or updating old windows, it’s a great idea to look at all your possible options that might further enhance the look and energy efficiency of your home before you simply duplicate what’s already there or go with “ordinary” because it’s cheaper. If https://bendwindowcleaning.com/Resources/window-cleaning-size-chart.pngyou’re building, sometimes the more exciting window looks may, in the big picture, not add that much more to your end cost. If you’re flipping, windows that allow a lot more natural light to bathe the home, especially one that typically had smaller and less windows, can definitely pay for itself when selling. Buyers LOVE when the sunshine flows!! If you’re updating your residence, by changing up your windows, even just a few of them, can allow you to have the sense of living in a brand new space! Take time to review, study and choose what windows can and will do for your home in the big and ultimate picture! Then bask in the light, sunshine, warmth/coolness and if you choose wisely, lower energy costs!

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HAPPY LABOR DAY & THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK!!

Per Merriam Webster….Definition of Labor Day:  A day set aside for special recognition of working people celebrated in the US and Canada as a legal holiSee the source imageday the first Monday in September. At this challenging time, many working class people have been suffering reduced work schedule or been out of work all together while others have been called upon to work more deemed essential for maintaining daily living. Here at ByOwner.com we wish to celebrate all our “Laborers”…Farmers, Police, Firefighters, Hospitality Workers, Retail and Grocery Workers, Doctors, Nurses, Hospital Workers, Dentists and their Workers, Teachers, Restaurant Owners and Workers, Janitors and Maintenance Workers, Nursing Home Workers ….Workers, Workers, Workers!!!! You have earned our respect and our wish that you take the time to enjoy a very relaxing Labor Day Holiday!!

 

 

 

 

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Ceiling Fans Offer Style AND Energy Efficiency

Did you know that the simple and fairly inexpensive process of installing ceiling fans will not only create more energy efficiency but will also save you $$$ on your utility bills! With even the lower end fans including remote operation, cooling your home and fattening your bank account is as easy as click click click!

Q: Can I use a ceiling fan instead of air-conditioning?Image result for Ceiling Fans
A: Not only can you, there are many benefits to doing so.

  • Ceiling fans are quiet. You don’t hear anything when you turn it on or off, or even when it is running constantly.
  • Ceiling fans save energy. They only use 50-75 watts of power. That is the same as a light bulb and less than one-tenth of the power it takes to run a medium-sized air conditioner.
  • Ceiling fans save money. Running a fan costs considerably less per month than running an air conditioner. Plus so many also have lights that you can add more lighting, including dimmer type, to your room for style and savings.    Silver Orchid Finlayson 52-inch Lighted Ceiling Fan with Reversible Blades

Q: How are ceiling fans beneficial in the summer?
A: Although a ceiling fan will not lower the temperature in your home, it will make a room feel cooler. When you open doors and windows, warm air is circulated from inside the room to the outside of your home. This action can make you feel up to eight degrees cooler! Inside tip: During the summer, run your ceiling fan in a counter-clockwise direction for maximum efficiency to lower electricity costs and to conserve energy.

Q: What kind of ceiling fan should I buy?
A: Energy Star fans are a good choice and boast being fifty percent more efficient than conventional fans!

Q: What size ceiling fan should I buy?
A: It is a grave mistake to install a huge fan in a big room or a tiny fan in a large room. Not only will it look awkward, but you might not get enough airflow.

  • Large rooms (15-by-15+): Use a fan with a blade span of 50 – 56 inches.
  • Medium rooms (12-by-12): Use a fan with a blade span of 42 – 44 inches.
  • Small rooms (8-by-8): Use a fan with a blade span of 32 inches.

Q: Where should I install a ceiling fan?
A: You should install ceiling fans in the rooms that get the most use. Once you choose the rooms, you should hang your ceiling fan in the center of the room, 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. If the blades are too close to the ceiling, the air will not circulate.

NOTE: A great often overlooked benefit of ceiling fans is that by reversing the blade direction in the winter, you can help your furnace also be more energy efficient as well and keep your home comfortable while saving money!! In Image result for Victorian Style Ceiling Fans With LightsImage result for Ceiling Fansaddition, there are so many beautiful styles, now you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. Overall a good home purchase!

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Housing Market UP In Spite of Covid Issues!

With the Coronavirus pandemic came an almost dead stop to the real estate industry caused by fear of the future regarding jobs, health, the drop in consumer confidence and the stock market. BUT just as suddenly as things turned to chaos, the housing market, enhanced by historically low mortgage interest rates, has actually become a welcome high point among many still uncertain lows.

After an almost stagnant spring, home sales rebounded in May and June. New construction rose to 16.6% in May and then continued to rise to over 17% in June. Pending home sales showed the highest one month gain since the NAR (National Association of Realtors) started tracking numbers almost 20 years ago rising an amazing 44.3% in May.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, this is good…no great news!!

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Beware the Scammers!

This is a reprint of an article on the “Equifax.com” website regarding protecting yourself during this challenging time from scams and financial predators trying to take advantage of people’s stress, vulnerabilities, confusion and fear. Taking the time to read this could save you and those you love even more frustration now and as you pursue buying a home in the future.

“COVID + Credit: New Scams Put Identity at Risk during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Reading time: 10 minutes

Federal, state and city governments have taken steps to provide financial help to Americans during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some bad actors have used the recently relaxed eligibility requirements for state and federal aid to unleash new scams, stealing the identities of the people who most need help.

Watch out for these new scams making the rounds during the Covid-19 pandemic:

Covid-19 Scam #1: Stolen Federal Stimulus Payments

Federal stimulus payments have proven to be an easy target for scam artists. In April, as part of an effort to get checks to those in need, the Internal Revenue Service launched a portal to assist in funds distribution. Through this tool, eligible persons who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 are able to enter basic identifying information so the government can more easily distribute their stimulus payments.

Per IRS guidelines, users have been asked to provide a range of personal information, including:

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type of account and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you received one from the IRS earlier this year
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) and their relationship to you or your spouse

Though the relatively simple data requirements are helpful for many Americans, the limited and basic nature of the information makes it easier for scam artists to claim checks that do not rightfully belong to them. Basic personal information can be stolen in a variety of ways, including through data breaches, fake websites asking for personal information, scam calls and phishing emails, all intended to trick unsuspecting Americans just trying to keep up with a deluge of important information.

Covid-19 Scam #2: Scam Artists Impersonating Government Agencies

It’s difficult to know who is really behind the email or phone call you’ve just received. In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has reported a rise in fake emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other organizations claiming to offer information on the Coronavirus.

The FBI warns not to click links or open attachments from senders you do not recognize, as those actions can unlock malware and allow scammers to either steal personal information or lock your computer and demand payment. Consumers should also be wary of visiting websites or using apps claiming to track Covid-19 cases worldwide, as criminals are using these portals as a way to deliver malware to phones and personal computers.

Covid-19 Scam #3: Delivery Scams

If you’re older or immunocompromised or if you’re taking care of someone who is, you may need to have items like groceries or necessary medications delivered to your door. Ordering from a trusted source online is a safe way to go, but beware if someone you don’t know well offers to help.

Some scammers may offer to purchase and deliver your supplies but never return with the promised items while taking off with your money. As a general rule, it’s safer to ask for help from a friend or family member or to use a trusted delivery service.

Covid-19 Scam #4: Waylaid Donations

Donating to aid organizations such as your local food bank or hospital can help make a difference during the pandemic, but make sure your money is going where you intend it to. Sadly, the FBI has noted an increase in phishing emails that ask consumers to make donations to local hospitals and charities, or to access Covid-19 testing kits, cures or vaccines that are fake.

Protect yourself by researching your charity of choice before opening your pocketbook. Don’t make a donation in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, as these are common ways scammers ask for money. Verify legitimate charities at givewell.org or charitynavigator.org and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information on how to avoid donation scams. Never click on any links or download any information from an email sent by someone you don’t know personally.

Covid-19 Scam #5: Fake Zoom Invitations

Bad actors have started preying on those working remotely by sending fake Zoom invitations to bogus online meetings in an attempt to steal passwords. Pay attention to the wording of the messages you receive. If someone “demands your presence” or threatens to terminate you if you don’t attend, chances are it’s a scam. Make sure any video conference invitations you accept are coming from someone you know at your organization.

If you do click the link in a bogus message, you’ll generally be directed to a webpage that looks similar to a legitimate Zoom meeting screen but, in reality, is a page designed to get you to input your email password. Carefully review any messages sent from unfamiliar accounts and the webpages of any links you open. Be sure to reach out to your employer for clarification if you sense something is suspicious about a Zoom invitation you’ve received.

Covid-19 Scam #6: Bogus Offers for Vaccinations and Home Test Kits

Currently, there is no federally approved vaccine or home test for the Coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped scammers from peddling their goods to worried Americans. If you’re concerned you may have contracted the virus, contact your doctor and ask about testing availability in your area. To help better protect your identity, never share your medical information, Social Security number or health insurance details.

How to Better Protect Your Identity from Covid-19 Scams

While you can never guarantee that your identity will be fully protected, here are five steps you can take right now to ensure your identity is better protected:

  1. Frequently check your savings, checking, credit card and other key financial accounts for unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
    One of the best ways to help better protect your identity is to make sure you’re constantly up to date on the status of your financial accounts. Even setting aside five minutes per week to review every charge or withdrawal can make a difference in swiftly recognizing a threat to your identity. For your bank and credit card accounts, sign up for email or text notifications with your financial services providers, so you’ll get an instant notification if a charge is made.
  2. Contact your bank as soon as you notice any suspicious activity on your account.
    If you see any item prompting concern on one of your accounts, contact your bank immediately. Explain your situation and ask about your options, which may include canceling your active credit or debit cards and being reissued new ones. Talk with your bank or credit card lender for more information on the specific remedies available to you.
  3. Frequently change your online passwords to better protect your information from data breaches.
    The internet age has certainly provided many benefits amid the Covid-19 pandemic: You can now order groceries and stay in contact with friends and family while social distancing from home. However, an unintended consequence of moving secure information such as your telephone number or address to mobile apps that make life easier is that your personal information is now stored on more platforms than ever. If hackers access these systems, they could obtain your secure information without your knowledge.To combat this problem, set up strong passwords (unique to each account) that have more than eight digits and include upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one symbol. Set a reminder to change all passwords periodically, whether that’s annually, once every six months or as frequently as you can reasonably manage.
  4. Remove personal information from your social media accounts.
    The more information scammers can glean from simply looking at your social media accounts, the easier it may be for them to steal your identity. Start by reviewing the privacy settings for each of your accounts and update them to remove excess information if need be. To reduce the risk of someone impersonating you, keep your mailing address, email address, phone number and other personally identifying information private.
  5. If your identity has been used to cash your stimulus check or apply for unemployment or other benefits, file a report with the relevant authorities.
    Unfortunately, recent reports show that identity thieves have targeted those in the most need of financial aid during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you suspect that you have not received the aid you are eligible for because you are a victim of identity theft, contact the relevant local or federal authorities.

It’s unfortunate that bad actors are taking advantage of a pandemic to steal people’s identities, but you can take steps right now that can help better protect your information from thieves.”

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Historically Low Interest Rates!

This month, August 2020, Fannie Mae has announced historically low interest rates:

30 yr. mortgages 2.88%

15 yr mortgages 2.44%

With the pandemic still coursing the world, this has been a challenging time for many with regard to buying or selling a home. With this new announcement, if you’ve been considering selling, this is a great time to take that step. Inventory is low and demand by those who are in a position to buy is high. If you’ve been thinking about buying and have the ability to do so this is an amazing opportunity for you. With rates so low, you can qualify for more home or perhaps if you haven’t been able to qualify before, now you will have options.

Yes, for many this is a scary time, but an old proverb says, “If you have an advantage offered you, take advantage of it!”