People You’ll Meet On Your Real Estate Journey

Just as Dorothy needed her posse to make it to the Emerald City, you’ll encounter a wide range of folks on your way to buying a home. Of course, buying a house is more complicated than clicking your heels together three times and chanting “there’s no place like home,” no matter how dazzling your shoes are. Fortunately, the following pros will help you along the way.

1. Realtor
As the “good witch” (or wizard) and the primary guide on your journey, your buyer’s agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests. He or she will take you from the early days of narrowing down neighborhoods to the final signature on the sale contract.

2. Loan Officer
Unless you’re able to make a cash offer, you’ll likely be working with a loan officer to procure a loan from a bank. Your Realtor should be able to guide you to their trusted loan officer to get you pre-approved before you start looking at houses. This will save you time and headaches down the road.

3. Loan Processor
Once you begin working with a loan officer, a loan processor will likely be the person helping you assemble the nuts and bolts for your loan application (and there can be a lot of nuts and bolts). He will be verifying your income and other important documents. Do not take it personally if they ask for something more than once. It is just part of the procedure and they are doing their best to get your loan ready in time for you to close on your dream home.

4. Inspector
The licensed inspector examines the property you’re looking to buy, identifying all potential problems. The inspector will file a written report that usually includes photos, but it’s best to join him or her during the inspection so you can ask questions.

5. Appraiser
Usually, your lender will select the appraiser who will do a room-by-room walk-through of the property and use those findings along with current market knowledge to determine their professional estimate of the property’s present value.

6. Transaction Coordinator
Some real estate offices have a transaction coordinator to act as a liaison between all of the people mentioned above. This helps ensure an efficient process and prevents you from having to juggle numerous emails and voice-mails.

7. Escrow Officer
Escrow Officer, also known as closer, works with the Title Company and facilitates in the closing of the sale. Title company  is a neutral third-party who acts as escrow for closing. They keep all funds for the transaction and provide title insurance of the property.

When you’re ready to begin your real estate journey, start by contacting Von Truong at 972-979-4700

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Ways to Keep Your Home Flu Free

Keep your home from serving as a breeding ground for the cold or flu virus with these simple tips.

Control your remote
What’s the first thing someone does after calling in sick to work or school? They grab the remote and hunker down with Netflix and some chicken soup. Make sure their germs don’t stick around by disinfecting your remote regularly.

Lose the shoes
Flu-causing viruses and bacteria can hitch rides on shoes and the dirt they carry. Ditch your shoes as soon as you walk through the door and slip into some slippers instead.

Work that washer
Have kids (or dogs) with lots of plastic and rubber toys? Disinfect them regularly by running them through your dishwasher. It’s a much more efficient way to kill germs than spraying and wiping them down one by one. Consult Google if you’re unsure what’s dishwasher safe.

Humidify
Viruses love dry air. Studies show that homes kept at 40-60 percent humidity tend to have fewer flu viruses floating around. Keeping the air in your home at that range can decrease the amount of flu virus in the air by as much as 30 percent. That’s definitely worth the price of a small humidifier.

Update your hardware
Copper, aluminum, lead, iron and silver are all antimicrobial – they actually kill bacteria. Brass is the most powerful germ slayer of all. Since doorknobs are a common gathering place for germs, installing brass ones might be a stylish, and effective, strategy for staying flu-free.

Replace (or nuke ) your kitchen sponge
That small square holds onto a host of germs. Replace it every week or so, or kill those festering colonies by blasting the sponge in the microwave for two minutes.

Does your current home lack a cozy corner to recover in? It may be time to explore your options. Call Von Truong today at (972) 979-4700

 

Previously published by RE/MAX Housing Blog

Projects to Tackle This Spring Break

March (hopefully) means the weather is warming up. If you don’t have a trip planned to an exotic locale, take some time to get ahead on home maintenance projects. Here are a few projects you can complete during a spring fling of home repair.

Fun with water
Power washing your home’s exterior not only adds to its sparkle factor, but also blasts away any potentially damaging mold and mildew. Rent a machine at your local home improvement store and tackle your siding, deck and driveway.

Check your AC
Scheduling a tune-up for your cooling system can save you bucks in the long term. Change your AC filter and schedule a pro to come check your system now, before contractors get busy.

Go with the flow
Pull out a ladder and unclog gutters and check that they’re connected securely.

Bask in the sun
Catch some rays – and brighten your home – by cleaning the interior and exterior of your windows. Try a squeegee and skip the paper towels, to avoid looking out through a filter of lint.

Hit the fridge
Dust and grime on your refrigerator’s coils causes the machine to use more energy to cool. Cleaning coils is easy with your vacuum’s hose attachment. Then, enjoy efficiently-made ice cubes in a cocktail after all your hard work.

Thinking about selling your home? Find out if you should be focusing on larger projects by talking to Von Truong at (972) 979-4700

Ways to Meet Your New Neighbors

Now that you’ve settled into your new home, it’s time to the meet the neighbors. Here are a few tips to break the ice. Go ahead, don’t be shy!

1. Throw an informal happy hour
After all that unpacking (or staring exhaustedly at those boxes that need to be unpacked) hosting a party may be the last thing you want to do. But a casual gathering involves little effort. A couple bottles of wine, a few snacks and you’re set to meet new friends. Plus this is the one time you can get away with a disorganized house and still have people over — take advantage.

2. Get some fresh airmeet your neighbors
Hang out in your front yard or on your porch. Neighbors are much more likely to stop by to say hello if they see you sitting outside with a cup of coffee than if you’re inside and they have to knock on your door.

3. Go exploring
Jog through your new neighborhood instead of hitting the gym. Neighbors will at least wave, if not stop you for a quick chat.

4. Puppy pride
Walking your dog, or playing with him or her in your yard or local dog park, is an excellent way to meet people, especially other dog lovers.

5. Cruise garage sales
You might not want to actually buy anything since you just gave away a lot of accumulated junk before your move, but perusing garage sales is a great way to meet your neighbors. Check out the local paper or Craigslist to find out where to go.

6. Hang out with your kidsgarage sale
Volunteering at school or chatting with other parents at the playground can result in new friends for you and your kids.

7. Dust off those oven mitts
Bringing homemade cookies to the neighbors makes a great first impression. If you haven’t unpacked your kitchen, bakery or store-bought goodies will also be appreciated. Don’t forget to stop by with dog treats to make new canine friends as well!

 

neighbors

Staging Secrets of Model Homes

It’s no secret that staging can raise the value of a home—in fact, it can boost a sale price by as much as 10 percent. The best staged homes—the ones that garner the full 10—strike the balance between lived-in and never-owned. How can you apply that science when staging your home?

Look no further than model homes, which draw buyers by blending the form-follows-function principle with the preferences of today. To stage your home to that effect:

  • Remove anything from the room that doesn’t fit the intended purpose of the space, and vice versa. Take televisions out of bedrooms and designate an eating area in the kitchen, for example.

 

  • home stagingDelineate sections in a room with area rugs, and “float” furniture away from walls and on and around the space. Avoid closing off accessibility by allowing at least three feet of walk-through space around furniture arrangements.

 

  • Group solid furnishings, like sectionals or bookcases, with visually lighter pieces, like a glass side table or raised bench, to convey spaciousness over sparseness.

 

  • Have at least one light fixture for every 100 square feet of space, especially if your home lacks natural light. Use pure white lamp shades on all light fixtures, and replace any incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

bedroom - staged

  • Mix general and task lighting in rooms that see the most traffic. Install lighting between open-air shelving or underneath overhead cabinetry in the kitchen, and place a small lamp on a desk or workspace in a child’s bedroom.

 

  • Accessorize sparingly. Display only a handful of books with like-colored bindings in bookcases or shelving units, add one (thriving!) house plant to a side table, or hang one statement piece of artwork (scaled appropriately) over a bed or fireplace.

Stage to the model home aesthetic with these tips—and to learn even more about readying your home for its close-up, call Von Truong at 972-979-4700

 

Article previously published by RISMedia

Home Superstitions from Around the World

Moving to a new home? Here are a few traditions from around the world to bring luck and cast out bad energy. Here are a few.

1. Make a clean sweep
According to U.S. superstition, your old broom can carry all the negative energy from your former dwelling place to the new one. Leave it behind for a fresh start.

2. The door to success
According to old Irish tradition, the first time you leave your new home you should exit through the same door you entered to ensure good luck. After your initial departure you’re free to leave through whichever door you’d like.

3. Ward off evil (and stale smells)
Native Americans traditionally burn dried sage and wave the smoke around the corners of a room to clear out negative energy. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you might want to skip this one as sage is in the same family.

4. Let your pot overflow
Indian tradition holds that boiling milk and rice in a pot until it overflows helps bring purity and long life to the homeowners. Another Indian tradition is to bring a cow into your new home and wrap a flower garland around its neck – a bit more logistically challenging than the rice.

5. Set the tone
Tibetan moving rituals include ringing a “space-clearing’ bell in each room of a new home to clear away old, dying chi (life force energy).

6. Bread and salt
According to Jewish tradition, bread and salt should be the first items brought into a new home. The loaf of bread ensures that the homeowners never know hunger. The salt will bring a life that’s always full of flavor.

7. Lightning insurance?
The ancient Norse believed that putting an acorn on a windowsill protected the home from lightning strikes. Blind-pulls shaped like acorns remain popular today.

 

You don’t need magic tricks or superstitions to find the right home. Call Von today at (972) 979-4700 to start looking for new home!

Published by RE/MAX Blog

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for a Down Payment

Saving enough cash for a down payment may seem impossible, but with planning and discipline you can make it happen. It might not be tomorrow, but owning your own home is something worth waiting for, working for and, perhaps, sacrificing a few expensive coffee drinks for as well. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Track every dollar. Find out exactly where your money goes each month by keeping track of every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your card and bank statements carefully to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Sites like mint.com can also help you track and categorize spending.

2. Rate every purchase. Using the month of expenditures, rate each item or service you bought as a “want” or a “need.”

3. Set savings goals. Using your “needs” and “wants” list, determine where you can realistically cut spending. If it means that much, you don’t necessarily have to cut out Starbucks altogether, but reducing your trips will certainly help. Use the budget to set monthly and yearly savings goals.

Piggy Bank Savings Female Half Filled4. Set aside funds. Create a separate savings account for your down payment. It’s not only easier to track, but blocking off the funds may make you think twice before dipping into that money for something other than your future home.

5. Save automatically. If you are paid through direct deposit, chances are you can split your paychecks into more than one account. Set up your new “down payment” savings account to take in a portion of your regular direct deposits. You can’t miss money you don’t see in the first place.

6. Maximize your returns. Once you have a bit of money saved, talk to a financial professional about other places you might invest it to get a bigger return than you would by keeping it in your savings account – perhaps a money market account or a certificate of deposit (CD).

When your down payment goal is in sight, Von will help you take the next step in your home buying journey. Call her at (972) 979-4700 to get started!

 

Published by RE/MAX Housing Blog

Simple Tricks to Crank Up Your Curb Appeal

First impressions set the tone for a home tour. Prospective buyers should encounter an attractive, welcoming place before they even walk through the doorway. Here are some tips to crank up your home’s curb appeal.

De-clutter the porch. Lose the extra chairs, the pile of muddy shoes and your dog’s collection of mangled toys.

Help your home bloom. A pot of bright flowers is not only cheerful, it also can draw the eye away from less-than-perfect features.

Don’t forget the door. Give your door a fresh coat of paint, or brighten up the trim. At the very least, clean it well, including the glass window panels.

Add a little sparkle. Upgrading rusty hardware is inexpensive but makes a big difference.

Lose the jungle. Time to get out that trimmer. Make sure the trees and bushes around your home are under control.

Make your bed. If you can, invest in new plants and freshen the mulch. At the very least make sure your flowerbeds are tidy and weed-free.

Tend the lawn. Keep your grass green and mowed while your home is listed.

Gather the gnomes. And the flamingos. And the frogs and stash them in a box.

Blast the grime. Pressure washers are available to rent from many home improvement stores. You’ll be amazed at how much fresher your porch, siding and front door look after a bath.

Stash your trash. Now’s not the time to impress people with your commitment to the planet. Stash all those recycling, composting and trash bins inside your garage.

Look after number one. Spiff up your house numbers or spring for new ones that match the style of your home.

To help buyers find your home so they can appreciate the front porch and everything else, work with Von. Call her at (972) 979-4700.

Fun Indoor Activities for Kids

For those days when even the snow angels are shivering, it’s good to have an emergency list of indoor boredom-busting activities for kids other than the TV. See if any of these activities might appeal to your little ones.

1. Hit the “lab”
Try a few experiments. You can build a classic sparkly volcano, with baking soda, vinegar and glitter in a vase, or write secret messages with invisible ink made from lemon juice. Many more ideas are available online.

2. Ready, set, go!
Incorporate furniture, cardboard boxes and jump ropes in obstacle courses kids can run against the clock.

3. Strike out
Hardwood floors are perfect for indoor bowling. Stack plastic cups in a pyramid and try to bowl them over with rolled up socks.

4. Go old school
Have kids create cards or write letters to out-of-town friends and relatives — or even public figures they admire!

5. Go hunting
Create a scavenger hunts for kids. You can find some ideas here.

6. DIY cooking/baking show
Kids love to get creative in the kitchen, especially with foods that can be extensively “decorated” such as pizzas and cupcakes. Add another level of fun by recording the process and splicing together a mini-cooking show for relatives.

7. Color me busy
There are a zillion types of coloring books available for kids. Lately, coloring books have also grown in popularity with stressed-out adults. Sit down with your kids and try to stay in the lines — or not!

8. Get up on the dance floor
Move the furniture and clear space for the kids to boogie down. Music services like Pandora can help you find just the right tunes to get kids moving.

Looking for a home with more room for your kids to play? Call Von today at (972) 979-4700 to get started.

Top Eco-Friendly Amenities for Your Home

ecofriendlyAll you have to do is count the number of driveways with a hybrid vehicle, and you can see at a glance that Americans are embracing the eco-friendly lifestyle. However, a Prius in front of the house is just the beginning. More and more homeowners are opting for sustainable features in the home as well. Eco-friendly amenities often add to the beauty and comfort of a home, and even save money in the long run.

Green features are not just for new construction. There are unlimited ways to upgrade your existing home to be more eco-friendly. Here are some of the top trends in eco-friendly remodeling in 2015:

  1. ENERGY STAR appliances. Appliances are responsible for about 20 percent of an average home’s energy use. Depending on the type and model, super-efficient ENERGY STAR approved appliances can save up to 50 percent less energy and water than standard appliances. Consider using trendy and durable stainless steel appliances, and the new high-efficiency, clean-burning gas stoves that protect your indoor air quality.
  1. Why consume electricity when you can enjoy natural sunlight? Not only does it illuminate your home for free, but studies show that natural light is far better for mental and physical health, and can even boost productivity. Well-placed windows with quality window treatments will help you make the most of your available daylight. Skylights are another great option. If your existing windows are in poor shape, replacing them with high-quality, energy-efficient windows can also save on your energy bills. If you do this, consider going with wood or fiberglass windows; they are much more eco-friendly than vinyl.
  1. Real wood. Nothing beats the warm luxurious look and feel of real wood flooring, trim and cabinetry. Real wood is much healthier than alternatives such as particleboard, because it will not off-gas toxic substances into your home. Despite the fact that it uses trees, wood can be very sustainable. Just be sure that any new lumber or wood products you install are certified sustainable through the Forest Stewardship Council or another reliable third-party certifying organization. Or, use reclaimed or recycled lumber.
  1. Built-in water filters. Almost all municipal water supplies contain chlorine and other substances that can compromise your health. Instead of spending a ton of money on bottled water (and adding to the burden of unwanted plastic in our oceans), consider installing sink filters. Imagine the convenience of having delicious, pure water right out your tap. Though why stop there? Your skin absorbs chlorine readily, so why not get a showerhead filter, too? Or, do it all in one fell swoop and invest in a whole house water filter.
  1. Smart home technology. Smart management is the key to efficiency. You can save huge amounts of energy and water (not to mention time) by taking advantage of modern automated home management technology. Some popular examples include programmable thermostats and weather-based irrigation controllers.
  1. Eco-friendly landscaping. You can have a gorgeous yard and still be eco-friendly. The first step is careful plant selection. Native plants are a good choice because they don’t require more water and nutrients than is natural for your area. Next, place them where it makes sense for optimal beauty and energy efficiency. That’s right — landscape plants can reduce your energy bill. Shade trees are a great example, but well-placed shrubs, vines and even flowerbeds can help shelter your home from sun and wind, and collect excess rainwater runoff. Finally, manage your yard’s water use. Rain barrels, rain gardens and automatic watering systems can help minimize your water use while maintaining a beautiful exterior.
  1. Outdoor living area. One of the healthiest ways you can help your family is to get them to spend more time outside. Installing a patio, sunroom or other outdoor living space is an easy way to do just that. Your outdoor living area can be as simple or as elaborate as you want: from a concrete slab with a fire pit, to a multi-level installation complete with a pool, gazebo and outdoor living room, kitchen and bar. Either way, it is a sure-fire way to increase the whole family’s enjoyment of your home.

If you are thinking of remodeling, consider some or all of these eco-friendly upgrades. Not only will they make your home greener, but also a more pleasant, healthy place to live.

Posted  Housecall - Contributed by Shahar Giladi