BRIGHTEN UP YOUR HOME

Now that spring has officially arrived, it is time to put your heavy winter blankets away, open up the curtains and let the light in. If you are looking to place your house on the market or are a homeowner, here are five simple and cost effective ways to brighten up your home.

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Swap your Light Bulbs

Switch out your yellow bulbs for bright white ones. This will make your space look crisp and fresh. Lightbulbs are measured on a kelvin or K scale – the higher the kelvin number, the whiter the glow. Look for counts between 3500 and 4100k.

Paint your walls

Nothing compares to a fresh coat of paint to brighten up a space. Going over a wall with a new coat will help light bounce off the walls and open up the room.

Remove Screens

Screens do help keep the bugs out, but they also collect dirt. You should remove screens seasonally, since during the colder months your windows aren’t normally open and you can give the screens a nice cleaning. When the warmer months roll around, return the screens to their proper windows.

Clean Your Fixtures

When was the last time you truly cleaned, not just dusted, your light fixtures? Wash down your sconces and chandeliers to get rid of months and months of dirt buildup and to allow more light in your house. Try to make this part of your seasonal cleaning.

Expand Your Curtain Rods

By expanding your curtain rods a few inches beyond the window frame, your windows will appear bigger. This will also ensure that when you draw back the curtains, the fabric won’t block any light from coming in. Another great idea is to mount the braces slightly above the window frame to give the illusion of height.

AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets. Homesale Realty has more than 27 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate office in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium. Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, Lancaster, Wyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg,Harrisburg and Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |   Tips for Home Sellers  |   Tips for Homeowners

BRIGHTEN UP YOUR HOME

Spring-spiration

Finally, spring is officially here. As the days continue to pass by during the season, day time will begin to increase. Spring refers to the season/idea of rebirth, rejuvenation and regrowth.  Therefore, spring is the perfect time to renew your garden/landscaping.  Here are a few tips to get your garden/landscaping a fresh new look.

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Prepare your lawn:
Rake your lawn to remove winter debris, dead growth, and leftover leaves from the fall. This will help bring light and air to the top soil level and allow the grass to grow. If there are any bare patches on your lawn, rake the area(s) firmly and then reseed.

Weed the young weeds now:
Any weeds that are in your garden beds will be the easiest to pull now since the roots are shallow. To minimize the growth of new weeds, cover bare spots with mulch or a ground cover.

Clean your gutters:
To prevent water from drowning on your plants below, be sure to clean your gutters. A house-end attachment specially designed for gutters will make the process a lot easier.

Fertilize:
Using coffee grounds to prep your soil is a great way to save money and be ‘eco-friendly’. Coffee grounds are filled with nitrogen, a mineral that helps in plant growth.  You can also use egg shells as a fertilizer. Crushed egg shells are rich in calcium carbonate which helps enrich the soil.

Water your plants:
Use cooking water. Watering plants with left over cooking water is a great way to add vitamins and minerals left behind after boiling pasta and vegetables. Make sure that the water has cooled down before you shower your plants. To fight off plant infections, use cooled off chamomile tea.

Garden at night:
Studies have shown that planting in the moonlight will actually make your plants grow faster and stronger. Planting at night also maximizes water usage.

AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leasing real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets. Homesale Realty has more than 27 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate office in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium. Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, Lancaster, Wyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Harrisburg and Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |   Tips for Home Sellers  |   Tips for Homeowners

Spring-spiration

FALL IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

From the very first glance, either online or in person, potential buyers should immediately be hooked and feel like it is already their home. Most homeowners rarely go through their own front entry, so take some time to enter though your front entry and view it as if you were seeing it for the first time. Prospective buyers will notice every detail and determine whether or not they are interested in your property.

Here are 5 home staging tips to increase your curb appeal and help home buyers fall in love with your home.

 

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Homesale Realty has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices inBaltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, LancasterWyomissing,Chambersburg,Gettysburg,Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |  Tips for Home Sellers | Tips for Homeowners

FALL IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Light Up the Night

In the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark Griswold may have gone a little overboard with his Christmas lights, but if he was selling his house, he may have had the right idea.

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“Great decorations really set the tone for the holidays, a time when you can showcase your home in a different way to highlight areas that normally may not stand out,” said Amy Cornwell, President/ Lead Designer for Creative Impressions, which specializes in seasonal decorating.

By creating a festive atmosphere, a home seller allows perspective buyers to envision what their holidays will be like in the property—complete with a beautiful tree, stockings hung from the fireplace mantels and the smell of Christmas cookies in the air.

Home Buyers associate a sense of ‘home’ through the traditions and memories of holiday décor,” Cornwell said. “It’s a great way to attract buyers.”

Nighttime is when many perspective buyers are driving around looking at houses, and nothing will slow them down more than a great Christmas light display. “A well-designed display adds festive elegance to a home, and highlights the already-present features of the property,” said Brandon Stephens, vice president of Marketing at The Decor Group, Inc., Lubbock, Texas, specializing in interior and exterior holiday decorating.

In fact, consider holding an open house at night, when you can serve hot chocolate and better show off the Christmas lights, holiday decorations and all that the house has to offer.

Here are some simple suggestions to ensure your home captures the holiday spirit without interfering in the real estate process:

  • Keep decorations to a minimum so you don’t block views, make rooms feel smaller and disrupt the natural flow of the home. Consider a smaller tree and store gifts in another room.
  • Incorporate fresh evergreen or rosemary into your decorating for a classic look and to promote “the Christmas tree smell.”
  • Make sure light strings and extension cords are tucked away for everyone’s safety.
  • Eschew religious or cultural decorations to not alienate prospective buyers who don’t share your beliefs.
  • Leave a plate of holiday cookies and warm cider or cocoa for prospective home buyers.

 

The holidays are emotional times for most people, including home shoppers. Holiday decorations, presented tastefully and sensibly, can help you wrap a bow on your home for just the right buyer.

Happy Holidays!

Creative Impressions, Inc.

Light Up the Night

Safest Cities to Live in Maryland

The state of Maryland is many things – it is the wealthiest state in the country with the highest median household income; it is one of the smallest states in area, yet has a high population, giving it one of the highest population densities in the USA; and, Maryland has numerous nicknames including America in Miniature, Little America, and Old Line State. Is Maryland a good place to live if you’re looking for family-friendly neighborhoods with low crime levels? If you are considering moving to Maryland, here are 7 of the safest cities to live.

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1. Dayton
Dayton is what’s called an “unincorporated community” and it’s lessthan 30 miles west of Baltimore. Around 10,000 people live in Dayton, in Howard County, enjoying the small town feel and low crime levels. Dayton has a crime index of 96, and is the third safest community in Maryland.

 

2. Ijamsville
Named for its founder, Plummer Ijams, Ijamsville is a small community in Frederick County, about 7 miles southeast of the city of Frederick. Around 3,200 people live in Ijamsville and it’s the fourth safest town in Maryland. The crime index is 94.

 

3. Clarksville
The unincorporated community of Clarksville has some of the most expensive homes on the East Coast. Set in Howard County it is also famous as the home of top performing River Hill High School. The town has a population around 9,000 people and is the fifth safest town in Maryland. It has a crime index of 94.

 

4. Jarrettsville
Jarrettsville is a census-designated place in Harford County, home to around 2,900 people. It was named for the Jarrett family who farmed the land in the 1800s. Jarrettsville is about 30 miles north east of Baltimore and has a crime index of 93.

 

5. Fallston
Set in Harford County in the north of Maryland, Fallston is a census-designated place that’s home to around 9,000 people. It’s a semi-rural community only 20 miles outside of Baltimore, and it’s the seventh safest town in Maryland. The crime index is 92.

 

6. Myersville
Myersville is a small town set in Frederick County, about 11 miles northwest of the city of Frederick. Enjoying its status as the ninth safest town in Maryland are roughly 1,600 residents. Myersville has a crime index of 91.

 

7. Brentwood
Taking the last spot in our top seven safest cities in Maryland is Brentwood. This town is in Prince George’s County, just 1 mile from Washington DC. Obviously the crime problems in the nation’s capital haven’t seeped out to Brentwood yet! Home to around 3,100 people, Brentwood has a crime index of 91.

 

If you are planning on moving or know of someone who is thinking about moving, then contact your local Homesale Agent for help. For more real estate information, please visit our Homesale website.

 

 

Safest Cities to Live in Maryland

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

When it comes to selling your home, the process can be time-consuming and stressful. Even though as a seller you may be skeptical to place your house on the market during the winter, take advantage of the lack of inventory and play up the winter season. Here are a few tips on how to sell your home in the winter and the home selling process a little simpler.

 

shovelingsnowShovel and salt often

If you want prospective buyers to be able to safely enter your home then make sure you keep the sidewalk, driveway and front doorsteps clear of ice and snow. It also helps to make your house look well-maintained; similar to raking the leaves in the fall. If you’re not living in the home, or not home enough to keep on top of the snow, hire a service to salt and shovel the driveway and walkways.

 

 

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Keep it warm

Part of making a home inviting to an interested buyer involves making it feel warm and cozy. You don’t want potential buyers looking at your home shivering as they walk around inside. Make sure you keep the thermostat higher if you know people are coming to look at the home, and if you’ll be there during the showing, set a fire in the fireplace.

 

 

 

Maximize light

During this time of year when daylight hours are at a minimum, light is important. Open the shades and let in as much sunlight as you can. Also make sure all the light fixtures are clean, and use bulbs with the highest wattage that they can safely handle. Turn on lights whenever you show the home to make it shine.

 

Have clean windows

Unkempt and dirty windows can turn off buyers before they even enter a house, and a strong light in the winter can reveal grime that otherwise wouldn’t be as noticeable. Make the windows as clean as possible and improve a potential buyer’s first impression.

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Make it look comfortable

Keeping with the theme of making your house feel like a home, small touches go a long way; throw blanket or on a sofa and a large folded-over comforter on a bed. Make the buyers see themselves’ comfortably living in the home.

 

Emphasize conveniences

Is your home on a street that gets plowed often or next door to a school so that kids don’t have to wait in the cold for a school bus? Make sure to emphasize the ways your home makes it convenient to deal with inconvenient weather.

 

Use timers on lights

In the spirit of keeping your home well illuminated, setting up timers on the inside and outdoor lights can make sure your home looks good at dusk and at night. Also pay attention to the light around the front door, and make sure it’s bright enough to seem inviting.

 

Make it feel festive

When showing a home, you want to make possible buyers feel like they’re invited guests. Set the dinner table with your good china, if you can leave small snacks and drinks like cookies and cider, do that too. You don’t want the home too look stale – reflect the possibilities the home has for entertaining guests when showing your house.

 

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Keep an inviting aroma

The one sense of the human body that sellers may neglect the most is the sense of smell. Make your home pleasing to the nose. Scents to use for the winter season include: cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, and vanilla. Make sure you don’t overdo it with scented candles and incense everywhere – you don’t want buyers to feel like they walked down the perfume isle and can’t breathe. If your home suffers from musty odors and pet smells, clean those areas thoroughly and replace or clean rugs and fabrics that may hold those bad smells.

 

 

 

Appear meticulous

It may seem inconvenient to potential buyers to be asked to remove their shoes or slip on rubber shoe-covers before walking around the home. But some buyers will see that you’re very picky about maintaining a certain quality and cleanliness – and it will reflect well on the state of the house in general.

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Decorate to the season

Don’t keep the Christmas tree or Hanukkah lights up after the holidays are over, but other seasonally appropriate decorations can help make a home more inviting, such as decorative wreaths and dried arrangements around the door.

 

 

 

Use winter to your advantage

Some homes can use winter as a selling point. Is there a popular ski resort close by? Is there a great sledding hill down the street? People want to hear about the winter perks they will enjoy living in your home.

 

If you are planning on selling your home, or know of someone who is thinking about putting their house on the market this winter, contact your local Homesale Agent. For more tips for sellers check out our previous article, Secrets for Selling Your Home.

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

Pre-qualification vs. Pre-approval

Mortgage-loan-payment-calculatorThere has been some confusion among those looking to buy a home and qualify for a mortgage loan regarding the difference between a mortgage pre-approval vs a pre-qualification letter. Indeed, they sound pretty similar, so hearing these terms before or during the hectic time while considering buying can only add to the confusion for novice buyers.

It is important for you to know the difference between the two so you can plan accordingly when purchasing your first home. Whether you are buying a home in Pennsylvania or Maryland, home sellers want to know you have the ability to buy their property. The best way you can assure the seller that you are qualified to purchase their home is to have your pre-approval letter.

**You should get your pre-qualification and pre-approval before you even start looking for your next home. You do not want to be viewing homes that you think you can afford when, in fact, they are out of your actual approved mortgage amount.**

 


Pre-qualification

Acquiring a pre-qualification letter is the first step in the mortgage process and it is fairly simple. As the buyer, you may not have sufficient funds to purchase a home for cash, however this defines most buyers. As a result, your ability to purchase a home depends on your ability to borrow money.  You will have to provide your bank or potential lenders with your overall financial picture, including your debt income and assets. This can be done over the phone, in-person or via the internet, and there is usually no cost involved.  After evaluating your information, a lender will be able to give you an idea of the mortgage amount for which you qualify. This initial step allows you to discuss any goals or needs you may have regarding your mortgage with your lender.

Since pre-qualification is a quick procedure and is based only on the information you provide to the lender, the amount you pre-qualified for is not a sure thing; it is just the amount you might expect to be approved for.

 


Pre-approval

Pre-approval is the next step, and is a much more in depth look at your financial status/borrowing power. You will have to complete an official mortgage application (there is typically an application fee), and also supply the lender with the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial background and current credit rating. A mortgage pre-approval is a written conditional commitment that is issued by a lender following a comprehensive analysis of a borrower’s overall creditworthiness; verification of income, verification of employment, available financial resources, as well as the evaluation of other areas typical of a credit evaluation process.  From this, the lender can provide you with the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved. You will also have a better idea of the interest rate you will be charged on the loan.

With pre-approval you will have a better understanding of the homes you can financially afford. This means that you are closer to receiving a mortgage loan commitment from a lender than with just a pre-qualification letter. You will have an advantage when dealing with a potential seller, or another buyer putting in an offer. In the eyes of the seller, you are considered a “strong buyer” with your pre-approval status.

Pre-approval is also a very helpful bargaining tool in negotiating a better deal with a seller. Overall, a pre-approval will give you greater confidence in the home buying process and provide you with more leverage when negotiating with sellers.

 

**It should be noted that neither a “pre-qualification letter” nor a “pre-approval” are viewed as an absolute commitment from the lender. A lender will still have to look closer to assess property appraisals, verify the information collected and re-check your credit report before agreeing to issue the loan. However, having this pre-approval is about as close as you can get to knowing you will receive financing.**

 

Gaining Confirmation

The final step in the process is called a “loan commitment”, which is only issued by a bank when it has approved you, the borrower, and the house in question. This means the home should be appraised at or above the sales price. The bank may also require more information if the appraiser brings up anything he or she feels should be investigated (i.e. structural problems, accessibility issues, outstanding liens or litigation in progress). Your income and credit profile will be checked once again to ensure nothing has changed since the initial approval.

A loan commitment letter is issued only when the bank is certain it will lend, so the commitment date on your purchase contract should be closer to closing rather than the date of your offer.

 

If you would like more information please contact your local
Homesale Real Estate Agent or our Homesale Mortgage Affiliates.

 

 

Source: 
O’Connell, Brian. “Pre-Qualified Vs. Pre-Approved – What’s The Difference?” Investopedia. Investopedia, LLC, 2014. Web. Nov. 2014.
Pre-qualification vs. Pre-approval