Hiring A Home Improvement Contractor

Home improvement projects tend to be ones that linger over time.  When your budget is tight, they get put on the back burner and aren’t seen as a necessity.  Because of this, there are a lot of contractors out there who are hungry for work; however, finding the right one for your project may be difficult.

Here are a few tips to remember in your process of finding the right home improvement contractor.

Ask for Referrals from Friends and Family

Personally asking your friends and family is probably the easiest way to find a home improvement contractor.  You will be able to hear their honest opinions and see the work of the contractor first-hand.

Using social media is also a really easy way to find a contractor.  Take your search to Facebook and ask for referrals and images of projects completed.  Who knows, you might find great options without having to look very hard.

Check the Contractor’s References

If a potential contractor has a list of references that is miles long, that is a good sign.  Depending on how long they’ve been in the business, they are bound to have a number of happy customers.  Contact a few of the references on the list to see how their home improvement projects went and if they were happy with the outcome.

Come to an Agreement

Come to an agreement with your contractor and have it in writing.  Having a formal agreement can prevent a big issue if something goes wrong down the road. For example, if the contractor doesn’t complete the project on time or doesn’t pay for supplies, then you will have a signed document to refer to that states whose responsibility it is to cover the fees.

When to Avoid a Home Improvement Contractor

The abundance of contactors is great for homeowners interested in improving their homes.  But how do you distinguish between the good and the bad?  If a contractor wants to skip the process of obtaining a permit, that’s a red flag.  Any major home improvement project legally requires a building permit, and inspectors will check the work throughout the process as well as at the end. Hiring a contractor who doesn’t want a permit just shows you that he doesn’t want his work inspected by someone else.

Also avoid a contractor who sought you out or demands to be paid in cash, this sounds like an obvious statement; however, when people are excited to improve their home, this isn’t something that is considered.  Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is use your best judgment; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Home improvement projects can bring a lot of value to your home.  It should be exciting and rewarding; so find a contractor you love to make your project a positive experience.

For more information on finding a home improvement contractor that you will love, visit here.

5 Landscaping Tips for Homeowners

The first thing potential buyers see when they’re searching for their dream home is the front yard. Even if the inside of your home is beautiful, the buyer could be turned off by the amount of landscaping work they will have to put in right when they move in. Here are five landscaping tips for you to give your home the best curb appeal.

Clean

This is one of the easiest ways to create curb appeal. Completely clear your yard of dead foliage and tree branches. If you have plants in large pots, scrub the pots clean until they shine. Remember, a little cleaning goes a long way and it has the potential to make a great first impression.

Mow and Water the Lawn

This should be one of the first item on your to-do list. Grass that is too long looks messy and unkept, and grass that is brown is not appealing to the eye. Do your best to water and mow your lawn regularly to get the best results. As long as there is a “For Sale” sign in your front lawn, there should be clean, trimmed grass.

Trim Trees and Bushes

Your home might have great landscaping already, it just needs to be cleaned up a bit. Keep the bushes and trees trimmed so they appear clean and well-kept, and don’t take away from the view of your house. You want the landscaping to complement, not be the focal point.

Plant Instant Color

Purchase flowers that you can plant in your front yard or that you can put in pots on the porch or sidewalk. Shoot for a splash of several colors that will complement your home. Adding small amounts of color will give your home the extra pop of curb appeal that it needs.

Touch Up the Mulch

This one small touch can turn your yard from dull to vibrant in just a matter of hours. The dark color of a fresh layer of mulch gives a great contrast against the bright flowers and green grass. It helps the pop of color from the flowers come to life.

Curb appeal can make or break a home. Completing easy landscaping projects can help you give the perfect first impression to a buyer by keeping the outside of your home just as beautiful as the inside.

For more tips on landscaping for your home, visit here.

How To Use Video To Sell Your Home

Most sellers, buyers, and real estate agents know the value of including pictures of a home in a for sale listing, but a new trend is emerging that is making it easier to sell a home. Many real estate agents are now encouraging their clients to create short videos that show off the best features of their home, yard, neighborhood, and city to include in their marketing strategy. Such videos have been shown to help certain homes stand out to potential buyers and even help to generate more people that might be interested in your home. So, if you’re serious about selling, you should consider making a short film that highlights all of the great things about your home and area to include with your for sale listing.

Social media has been of great help to many home buyers and sellers, since information can spread so quickly through sites like Facebook, YouTube, Trulia, and more. It doesn’t take much effort for people to click ‘play’ on your video, so broadcasting your sale through social media is a great, low-effort way to get your home to sell quicker. In 2012 only about 3% of real estate agents were using videos to help sell their clients’ homes, and fewer than that used videos that included the seller talking about their home on camera. This is why video tours of homes and neighborhoods have been so successful-they’re rare!

Recently, many agents and other companies in the world of real estate have started to notice the benefits of using video to sell homes; for example, Zillow has partnered with StudioNow, a suite of services to help agents – many of whom lack video-editing skills – make these short productions.

What do these videos look like though? How are they made?

Here are a few tips…

Homeowner Interview – homeowner answering interview questions about what they love most about their home and neighborhood. This is a great way to bring your property to life and to inform potential buyers of all the wonderful things they’re getting when they purchase your home.

Length – Once the video has been filmed and edited (they should only be 2 or 3 minutes long)

Where to post – Everywhere! First, upload it to YouTube then ask your agent to upload it to popular social media sites like Facebook, or include a link on Twitter, and to sites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, RealBird, and other search sites. You also want to ‘tag’ your video appropriately so that it generates a lot of traffic. You can experiment with different tags on different sites to see what generates the most traffic, but this step is usually one that is easier when working with an experienced real estate agent or knowledgeable third party.

Keep it simple – Remember to keep it simple-no special effects or loud music.

Watch for motion sickness – If you plan on walking through your home with a camera, make sure to be aware that some will not be able to watch the entire video. The camera will shake and the video can be blurry. Try standing still while taking the video and mixing still pictures in between the videos to break up the movement.

Finally, brag! You’re trying to sell your home, so really sell it; talk about the great neighbors, the summer festivals, the conveniences of having a walk-in closet-anything you can think of!

To read more on using video to sell your home, check out the original article from MSN.

How To Buy A Home in State College, PA

The process of buying a home can be daunting and confusing, regardless of whether you’re a first time homebuyer or an experienced homebuyer. Here are the steps you need to take to buy a home in State College, PA…

 

1. Find a Lender

First you need to see if you qualify for a home loan and, if you do, how much money you qualify for. You should look at your finances and determine how much you think you can afford, and then meet with a loan officer who will tell you what loan amount you qualify for.

 

2. Find a Real Estate Agent

Next you should find a real estate agent who is familiar with the housing market in Worthington, and who is experienced in buying the types of homes you’re looking at. Additionally, a real estate agent can help you with writing up an offer once you find a home, negotiating with the seller, and with any questions you have about the homebuying process.

 

3. Make 3 Lists

To help narrow down your search and to give your real estate agent direction on what houses to send you, make 3 lists.

 

List 1: Things you HAVE to have and can not live without

List 2: Things you would like to have but are not a deal breaker

List 3: Things you DO NOT want and will not buy a home if it has this

 

Keep in mind your lists might change, just remember to communicate that with your agent so they can continue to pull the right homes for you to see.

 

4. Search For Homes Online

Now you can begin the search for your home. You can do some research on your own by checking popular real estate listing sites, such as Zillow or Trulia, and you can also drive around neighborhoods in Worthington and look for “for sale” signs. If you want or need some help in searching for a home, you can ask your agent to suggest homes for you.

 

TIP: Most real estate websites have a lot of homes for you to search through. You need to know that not all of the information is accurate. Make sure that you talk to your real estate agent if you see a home online.

 

5. Do some research

The best thing you can do is to educate yourself. Yes, the professionals you hire will help you along the way but to be fully prepared do your research. Start by answering these questions…

– How much can I afford?

– How much am I willing to pay?

– How much does it cost to buy a home? (down payment, inspections, closing costs, etc)

– How long does it take to close on a home?

– What is a “request to remedy”?

– Is it a buyers market or sellers market?

– Are there still “steals” out there?

– Am I willing to do a lot of repairs? If so is a 203k loan right for me?

 

The list goes on. Just make sure you are financially and mentally prepared for the process!

 

Things To Do Near State College, PA – June 2013

Summertime has arrived and the weather outside is beautiful. Take advantage of the long days with all of the fun things available to you in Central Pennsylvania. Here are some events near State College, PA, that you can participate in this month.

 

Bellefonte Children’s Fair

When: June 1, 9:00 a.m.

Admission: Free

Start the month out on the right foot by bringing the kids out to the Bellefonte Children’s Fair. There will be five hours of fun, games, activities and so much more. Proceeds for the event benefit the Bellefonte Borough playgrounds.

 

Music in the Gardens: Healing the Soul

When: June 6, 6:00 p.m. – dusk

Admission: Free

Head out to The Penn State Arboretum for an evening of outdoor music performed within the garden rooms of the H.O. Botanic Gardens. Begin the experience with a walk around the gardens and follow that by soaking in the peaceful music.

 

3rd Annual Sprint and Super Sprint Triathlon

When: June 8, 7:00 a.m. check-in

Admission: $50 – $75

Support your local community by participating in the 3rd annual triathlon. There is a single loop or double loop option available depending on how far you want to go. If you’re not into swimming, biking or running, no problem! Come out and support members of your community.

 

“Kids Day” Learning Kitchen Demonstration

When: June 11, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

Take the kids out to the Pennsylvania Military Museum for an afternoon hour of learning how to cook. Tony Sapia of Gemelli Bakers will demonstrate how to make simple dishes from everyday products available at the market.

 

Lemont Village Strawberry Festival

When: June 15, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Admission: $6 for adults, $3 for children 4-12, free for 3 and younger

The 32nd Annual Strawberry Festival, benefitting the Granary Project of the Lemont Village Association, will be held on the Village Green. There will be plenty of sweets and treats, as well as face painting and other activities for the children.

 

For more information on exciting things you can do this month, visit here.

 

6 Reasons Your Home Is Not Selling

Are you having trouble selling your home? There are many reasons why your home might not be selling. According to an article from RIS Media and many years of experience in the industry, here are some issues that may not be as obvious, but are still preventing the sale of your home…

1. Your Home Is Not Easily Accessible For Showings: Are you getting a lot of showing requests that you are turning down? Many sellers make the mistake of not accommodating a buyer’s request for showings because requested showing times are inconvenience to the seller. Try and remember that your home is a product for sale. Do whatever you can to cooperate with showing requests, even if they are last minute or on off hours.

 

2. Pets: Pet problems can go beyond unfriendly pet barking or jumping on a potential buyer. Pet owners need to go to extra lengths to make sure to remove pet hair and keep odor to a minimum. Take your pets out of the house during showings or make sure they are crated. A potential buyer is there to view the home that is for sale and should not have to worry what your pet is going to do.

 

3. Not Aggressively Marketing Your Home: Is your home listed on MLS and public websites? Most buyers are shopping for a home online these days, so having an online presence is highly important. If you are dissatisfied with how your home is being marketed, you may need to sit down for a brainstorming session with your agent.

 

4. Your Agent is Not Familiar With Your Area: Did you list your home with an agent from outside of your area? Do they know much about your market? If your agent knows little about the market how can they properly position your property for sale? They may be missing the important selling features of your home.

 

5. Pictures: 89% of homes buyers start their search online before calling an agent. Even when they have an agent, they are still viewing your home online before setting up a showing. So their first impression of your home is through the pictures that are displayed on the MLS and other real estate websites. Make sure the pictures of your home make a good impression and invite buyers to want to set up a showing.

 

6. Price: Before listing your home, your real estate agent most likely showed you the comparables and market statistics for what others homes are selling for in your area. If your home is not priced properly, you could be missing out on potential buyers. The market stats don’t lie, make sure you pay attention to them and the advice of your agent to price your home properly for today’s market. No matter what you paid for it or how much money you spent fixing it up over the years, make sure to pay attention to the statistics.

For more possible reasons your house isn’t selling, check out the original article here.