Finding the right real estate agent to help you buy or sell your home is a task you cannot take lightly. With so many realtors out there making sure you find one tImage titlehat you can work well with and has your best interest can be a task. Remember you will be working with this person for months, possibly years and he/she will know everything about you and your family before the transaction is complete. Compatible personalities should be the first thing you look for and then look for knowledge of the market and industry as a whole.

It is unfortunate for our industry but many realtors are thrown out into the market
to find customers and sell homes but have very little if any training other than taking a web based training class and passing a state issued exam. While that is commendable it does not give you market insight or the knowledge needed to identify problems with homes and provide pricing advice as well as other advice that is expected of your real estate agent.

Make sure you interview several agents and ask your family, friends and coworkers for referrals as well. If they had a great experience with a real estate professional it is likely you will have the same experience with the same realtor. If you know you have specific needs such as a language need or handicap then call your local board of realtors and ask for some recommendations and Google names to do further research.

Your home buying and selling experience will be a fun and exciting time in your life with the help of the right professional so make sure you take your time casting that role. When interviewing real estate agents always ask why they got into the business and if their answer is “To work less and get paid more” or something similar then keep interviewing the best of us in this business do it simply because we love it.


Why you need your own agent if you are building a new home

Have you ever stopped in at a builders model home in a new and upcoming subdivision and then been hounded for months by the on-site agent to come back and give it a second look or go see another subdivision being developed by the same builder? These aggressive sales tactics are an integral part of on-site training for most builders’ agents. The tactics obviously work or they would not continue to train them however most of these captive agents are bound by contract to only show homes in their builders developments so they are not likely to tell you about a great home less than .5 mile away built by a competitor that is 10k less and is offering 20k in incentives or the one year old home, same model one street over that the seller must sell because they are unexpectedly being transferred out of town.

These examples are just some of the reasons why it is in your best interest to have your own agent that works for you exclusively navigate the purchase of a new home or construction of a new home in a community. Other advantages include price negotiations, contract review, construction oversight and coordinating the inspections, closing, etc.

The best part is that it costs you nothing! The seller or builder in this case pays your agent to represent you. Would you sue someone and use the same attorney the other party is using? Of course not. Partly because the attorney would tell you it is a conflict of interest to have inside knowledge from both parties. This is no different. If you buy a home with the agent that is representing the seller (builder) you have the same conflict. This is what we can a dual agency and according to dual agency agreement the agent representing both parties is not able to provide advice about pricing or any inside knowledge they just prepare the contract and present it.

Is this the kind of representation you want on one of if not the largest transaction in your life? I doubt it so please do not allow an on-site agent to tell you that you can not have representation or they will get you a better deal if you use them exclusively. This is simply not true and most on-site agents will recommend you get your own agent to advise you throughout the process. Make sure any agent you choose has experience with new construction and is familiar with the local builders. Bottom line – have representation that has your best interest.

couple buying

House Hunting Tips for Couples

  1. Before you start to seriously search for that perfect home visit as many open houses and builders model homes as you can and make notes on floor plans you prefer, exterior styles, amenities that are a must and neighborhoods you really like. Knowing what you agree on beforehand will not only help your agent find the perfect home but will cut down on your frustration when you go out seriously looking.
  2. Interview several REALTORS® to find one that meshes with both your personalities because throughout this process you will be spending a lot of time together.
  3. Be flexible – It is highly unlikely that you are going to find a home that has everything you both want. As long as you can agree on the location, price and floor plan other items can be easily changed.
  4. Have fun – Remember that the home buying experience should be fun and rewarding so don’t get hung up on the little things and keep the bigger picture in mind. Can you see yourself enjoying this house for years to come and will it meet you and your family’s ever changing needs?
Winter Home

Preparing your home for the winter months

With bitterly cold temperatures around the corner I wanted to take a minute to remind homeowners about the important maintenanceImage items that ignoring can be costly. In case you missed my article in the Real Estate section of the Huntsville Times recently here is a recap of the 5 most important items to take care of before the freezing temps arrive.

When preparing your home to transition from warm to cold weather I always think of the word winterizing and what that means to your home. Here are the top five things that you should do every year as the temperature dips and we transition seasons.

  1. Have your furnace inspected by a licensed HVAC technician. This will insure your furnace is in tip top shape and minimize your utility expenses.
  2. If your home has a wood burning fireplace have a chimney sweep come out and inspect the chimney before use. If you have gas logs in your home make sure you have removed any dust that has accumulated over the spring and summer from the gas igniter.
  3. Inspect all your gutters for debris and make sure they are clean before the leaves start to fall and remove any debris from downspouts and make sure they are draining properly.
  4. Install weather stripping around any doors or caulk any windows with a draft.
  5. Most importantly this is a great time to change all the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Maintenance is the number one tip I can suggest in order to keep your home in tip-top shape and help avoid those costly repairs. Have your furnace and air conditioning inspected yearly, check your roof for leaks at least twice a year and your gutters and downspouts for debris, have your home and decking power washed annually to avoid fungus and mildew build-up, and inspect your basement/crawlspace and attic for any signs of moisture or pests.

House Flipping

Flip it!

Do you sit at home watching HGTV or DIY and think I can do that? You see these first time real estate investors laying it all on the line and making big profits. As an experienced flipper I can tell you that choosing the right property and making sure you have a contractor that will stay on budget and can detect any defects before you sign on the dotted line is HUGE! A small mistake in a flip can make or break any profit you had hoped to walk away with. In Huntsville there are some great investment opportunities but the margins are smaller which means the risk is smaller as well but you really have to make sure you do all your research before purchasing.

Five things to make sure you know before you buy.

  1. Unless you are a general contractor spend the money on a good home inspection before you buy. Inspectors are not specialist in any one field but will give you a good overall look at the house and may detect some items you missed in your assessment.
  2.  Hire a professional to do any and all plumbing, electrical, and structural work. This way if any of these items come up during the resale process you have someone to hold accountable and you have that warranty to transfer to the new buyer which is a huge selling feature. Buyers like to know that a licensed professional was involved with any specialty work done to the property. It is well worth this investment to transfer this liability to the professional in the field.
  3. Be prepared for surprises. You have gone through that budget with a fine tooth comb and are sure it will not go a penny over budget. Let me start by promising on your first few investment properties you will go over budget unless you take out a planned improvement to cover a surprise. So make sure you have a little wiggle room in the budget for unexpected costs and make sure you have included at least 4 months of carrying costs and realtor fees. These costs can add up and can take you from + to – real quick.
  4. Keep your personal taste out of it. I know you may love modern or country charm but make sure any investment property is kept generic. A home that is too personalized is hard to sell and limits your audience. So before you make those design and palate choices go out and visit several builder models. Builders do this for a living and know their market so take their lead and keep it clean and simple.
  5. Do not scrimp on curb appeal. It is easy to spend your entire budget on that dream kitchen but the curb appeal is what gets the traffic in the front door. If the home looks dated outside and the yard is in disrepair you are going to lose a large percentage of your potential buyers before they even make n the front door. Many buyers will start their new home search online and then drive around taking an exterior look at homes before contacting a realtor for a tour. You want to make sure your home looks as nice from the road as it does inside.

And remember this is supposed to be fun so relax and have a good time. I love working with investors in identifying potential properties and will work with you through the entire process.

What features are you willing to sacrifice for the right location?

You hear the saying “location, location, location” all the time but what are you willing to give up for your perfect location? A perfect example of this is in SE Huntsville where the majority of the homes are 40+ years old but you can’t get a better location in town. It is close to great private schools as well as some of the highest state ranking public schools, close to the major highways, golfing, river for boating and fishing, and access to Redstone Arsenal but you may not find your dream home here. You can turn a home into your dreamhome with a little intuition. SE Huntsville has always been one of the most desirable zip codes in town and lately there has been an even higher demand for the area. Before you start looking at homes in this area you need to seriously discuss what type of updates you are ok with and what is a deal breaker. My word of advise is this.

1. Ugly bathrooms while horrible to look at are a fairly simple undertaking. Many of the home improvement stores now carry all in one vanity/counter sets that look very high end. You can also look into reusing the existing tub with a cover or refinish paint and that can save a furtune. The thing to ask yourself is are you ok with the location of the bathroom because moving walls, plumbing and electric is a much more specific skill set.

2. Hideous light fixtures are a conversation starter but probably not something you want to look at day in and day out in your home. Light fixtures are an easy thing to replace and can be done yourself with instruction just remember you are playing with electricity.

3. Curb appeal is a biggie. Many buyers will not even take the time to look inside if the exterior is not appealing to them. Well keep in mind that landscaping can do wonders and is another fun do it yourself project. Also, brick can be painted, shutters and exterior doors replaced or painted and voila you have a new house (from the outside anyway).

4. Those kitchen cabinets look like they came from my grandmother’s house. Ask yourself if they are solid wood can they be painted and put on new hardware or if not could you re-face them? These are huge money savers but just like the bathrooms if you want to extend the space or change the layout all bets are off. Painting the cabinets, new hardware and countertops may turn that stale dated kitchen into a Pinterest most wanted.

5. I hate popcorn ceilings and that wallpaper has got to be the ugliest thing I have ever seen. These are the cheapest fixes of all but can be very messy and time consuming so make sure you are prepared to undertake this update. Paint is one of the easiest things you can do to transform a space and its cheap.

While these are just some of the easy fixes I am sure I could spout off twenty more I am just trying to get you to look at potential homes with an open mind.

The updates that you want to make sure are done include big ticket items like HVAC, roof, mold, panel box to code, updated plumbing and any structural issues. These things can kill your budget and turn your new dreamhome into a nightmare. Make sure you use a highly recommended home inspector and walk with him during the inspection so you won’t be surprised when you see the official report.


New listing alert! 6 bedrooms with an inground pool

Horseshoe Trail has long been recognized in Huntsville as the “must-see” tour at Christmas. Cars line up to take a drive down the trail and look at the light show. This is your chance to own a piece of Horseshoe Trail with this six bedroom raised ranch. This home has granite counters, plenty of closet space and a backyard for entertaining. Gunite pool with new coping and large deck for grilling offers an outdoor oasis. The basement has a wet bar and home has two fireplaces for ambiance. Come out for a poolside cook-out this Sunday from 1-3pm and take a tour of the home. Home is offered at $299,600 and rates are on the rise so NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY! Financial analysts are predicting rates to jump above 5% in 2014. 7828 Horseshoe Trl 35802