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What are the Best Options for Today’s First-Time Homebuyer?

If you’re looking to buy your first home, you’re likely balancing several factors. Because both mortgage rates and home prices have risen this year, it costs more to buy a home than it did even just a few months ago. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your plans on hold.

If you partner with a trusted real estate advisor and hone your strategy, you can navigate today’s market and find the home you’re looking for. Here are two tips to help you get started.

Work with a Professional To Prioritize Your Wish List

If you’re having trouble finding a home in your budget that checks all the boxes, it may be worth taking another look at your lists of what you want and what you really need. According to the latest First-Time Homebuyer Metro Affordability Report from NerdWallet, your wish list can have as much impact on your search as your finances:

“Your budget isn’t all that you need to be concerned about; your wish list and desired location may carry just as much weight.”

It’s all about prioritization. If you’re serious about purchasing your first home soon, be flexible in what you’re looking for to open up your pool of options. Partner with a local real estate professional to better understand what’s available in today’s market and reprioritize your wish list. Remember, making a concession now doesn’t mean you’ll never have everything on your list. After you’ve moved in, you can always add certain features to make the home your own.

Increase Your Search Radius To Consider More Locations

Some areas may have more homes within your target price range than others, but it may require you to be flexible on your location. For example, if you’re a remote worker, you may be able to expand your search radius. As Fannie Mae explains:

“. . . continued remote work flexibility is likely giving many the ability to live farther away in more affordable areas.”

The decision to search in places with a lower cost of living could help you find a home that fits your budget and checks the most boxes off your wish list.

Your Edge

If you’re serious about purchasing your first home this year, revisiting your wish list and desired location can help. Work with a trusted real estate advisor to explore all the options in your local market – and beyond – so you can achieve your homeownership dreams.

Keeping Current Matters | June, 2022

4 Tips to Sell Your Home this Fall

Even in a hot sellers’ market like today’s in which homes are selling so quickly, it’s still important to make a good first impression on potential buyers. Taking the time upfront to prep your house appropriately can bring in the greatest return on your investment.

Here are four simple tips to make sure you maximize the sale of your house this fall.

1. Price It Right

One of the first things buyers will notice is the price of your house. That’s why it’s important to price it right. Your goal in pricing your house is to draw attention from competing buyers and let bidding wars push the final sales price up. Pricing your house too high to begin with could put you at a disadvantage by discouraging buyers from making an offer.

Your trusted real estate advisor can help you find the price for your home that reflects the current current market. Lean on your agent to help you with this crucial first step.

2. Keep It Clean

It may sound simple, but keeping your house clean is key to making sure it gets the attention it deserves. As says in the Home Selling Checklist:

“When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers. . . . Remember to take special care with the bathroom, making sure the tile, counters, shower, and floors shine.”

Before each buyer visits, assess your space and determine what needs your attention. Wash the dishes, make the beds, and put away any toys. Doing these simple things can reduce any potential distractions for buyers.

3. Make It Easy To Visit

Giving buyers the opportunity to see your house on their schedule can be a true game-changer. Buyers are less likely to make an offer if it’s difficult to plan a tour or they can’t easily fit it into their schedule. Making your house available as often as possible helps create opportunities for more buyers to fall in love with your house.

Rest assured your trusted real estate advisor will keep your health and safety top of mind when buyers tour your home. Agents use the latest guidance to stay up to date on any protocols and sanitization recommendations.

4. Help Buyers Feel at Home

Finally, it’s important for buyers to see all the possible ways they can make your house their next home.

An easy first step to create this blank canvas is removing personal items – pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings – from your space. If you’re unsure what should be packed away and what can stay, consult your trusted real estate advisor. Spending the time on this step can pay off in the long run.

Your Edge…

To make the most of today’s sellers’ market, avoid the temptation to skip over the essential preparation steps. Connect with a trusted real estate advisor today to discuss all the ways you can maximize your home sale.

15 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Fall is here. With the fall weather comes shorter days and colder temperatures. Before the very cold weather comes, it is important to start thinking about a fall home maintenance routine.

  1. Trees and Shrubs

While trees and shrubs add value to the property value, it is important to keep up with them, especially as fall turns to winter. For shrubs, it is a good time to trim off any extra growth and get it into the proper shape.

2. Check for Drafts

Drafts can cause major heating issues, which lead to large heating bills.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat loss through windows accounts for 25-30% of heating energy use. By adding weather tripping or covering the windows can be a cost-effective way of cutting down on heating costs.  If you have old windows, use special weather plastic and cover the windows. This will keep the cold from coming in and the heat from going out.

3. Storm Windows

As the weather changes and the windows are opened less, it is time to take the screens out of the windows and put in the storm windows. This adds another layer of weatherproofing to your home.

  1. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that is a byproduct of burning oil or natural gas. It can be deadly if left unchecked and if people breathe it is. A carbon monoxide detector costs a few dollars and can save a life. The alarm will sound once the levels get too high. If your house does not already have one and you burn natural gas or oil for heat, it is vital to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level.

  1. Replace Batteries

At least two times a year, it is important to change the batteries in the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you plan to do it when it is time to change the clock in the spring and in the fall, then you will always have fresh batteries in case the detectors need to do their job. Of course, if for some reason the batteries in the smoke detector or the carbon monoxide detectors start to sounds the change battery alarm, be sure to change it right away.

  1. Clean or Replace Gutters and Downspouts

After the leaves have fallen from the trees, clean the gutters and downspouts. If the gutters are clogged, the rain waters can leave a pool of water on the roof and can cause damage to the roof or siding. Clear away anything from the base of the downspout so the water will drain away from the house.

  1. Winterizing a Sprinkler System

With the cold weather, any water left in the sprinkler system will freeze. This can cause damage to the sprinkler system. It is best to have the system blown out each year. You can pay an irrigation company about $125 a year to blow out the system. You can also do it yourself using an air compressor. No matter how powerful your compressor system is, it can not do the whole sprinkler system at once. Do each section or zone in order to get the water out.

  1. Check the Roof

Be sure to check the roof for any leaks or rotten places. No one wants to find that there is an issue with the roof during a snowstorm. If there are issues with the roof, get it fixed before the weather changes. Check the shingles. If any of the shingles are curling, cracking or buckling, it is time to replace them. If there is a lot that is damaged, it might be time to replace the while roof.

9. Get Your System Ready

During the summer, your heating and cooling system has been working hard. With the system working hard, it is a good idea to make sure it is working properly and do routine maintenance on it.

  1. Programmable Thermostat

As the weather changes from warm to crisp, it is a good idea to make sure that the thermostat is programmed to the right settings. A programmable thermostat can help keep your home at the ideal temperatures but will also save money on heating costs because you do not have to remember to change the settings each time you leave the house, come home or the weather changes. Set the temperature a little cooler at night, and have it warm up about 30 minutes before you wake up. Turn the temperature down when no one will home during the day and have it kick back on before you get home. These simple changes keep your home comfortable but will save money at the same time.

  1. Check the Fireplace

With the cooler temperatures, if you plan on lighting a fire in your fireplace, it is important to make sure that the fireplace is in good working order. Clean the fireplace of ashes. Check the chimney for any loose or missing mortar. Have someone come to professionally clean the fireplace and chimney.

  1. Check the Exterior

Before winter starts it is a good idea to check the outside of the house. Look for cracks and holes in the exterior of the house. If there are cracks or holes in the siding or paint, patch them. Replace caulk as needed. It doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Use a carpet knife to cut away the old caulking from the siding. Slice along the caulk on each side and use the knife to lift out the old caulk. Use a screwdriver to check the wood trim around the windows, the doors, decks, and railings. Caulk the holes or replace the wood, if needed.

  1. Check the Attic

Check to make sure the attic has the right insulation installed and that it doesn’t need to be replaced. Make sure that the vapor barrier on the insulation is facing the living space. If the insulation is not installed correctly, the insulation will trap moisture and that can cause water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to let the moisture escape. Use small pieces of the insulation to put into the joists on the attic floor.

  1. Prepare the Yard

The fall is a good time to get the yard ready for winter. It is a good time to cut back shrubs. Separate perennials and replant them in a new space. Fertilize the plants. After the leaves have fallen, it is important to rake the leaves that have fallen. If the leaves are thick it will keep the grass from being able to grow in the spring.

  1. Check the Driveways, Sidewalks, and Steps

Before winter has a chance to set in with the cold weather, it is important to check the driveway, walkways, and steps. If there are cracks in the concrete, now is the time to fix it. As the water seeps into the cracks and freezes, it will cause the cracks to become bigger. For cracks that are less than a half-inch wide, squeeze a bit of acrylic latex concrete repair deep into the crack. Then smooth it out with a putty knife. For larger cracks, you will need to trowel a vinyl concrete patching compound. It will need to cure for a day before walking on it and three days before driving on it.

Fun Things to Do in Austin This Weekend

Take a Trip to the Bastrop Music Festival 

Thirty miles southeast of Austin on the Colorado River is the charming country town of Bastrop, and the location of a four-day music festival starting on Thursday. The Bastrop Music Festival will feature more than 40 shows at 10 downtown venues, and attendees will hear a range of genres all weekend, including blues, country, soul, folk, and Latin. Wristbands, a full calendar of shows, and details about free shows for the public are all available hereThursday-Sunday, 809 Main St., Bastrop

Prost All Weekend Long at Easy Tiger’s Oktoberfest

All three of Easy Tiger’s locations have a full weekend of beer drinking, pretzel eating, and live music planned as part of their Oktoberfest activities, and we only have one word to describe our excitement: Prost! You’ll want to make sure to dust off the old lederhosen before the stein hoisting contests hosted by St. Elmo Brewing, Austin Beerworks, and Real Ale Brewing. The East location is hosting Dogtoberfest on Saturday and Twin City Trivia’s Oktoberfest edition will close out the weekend at Easy Tiger South. To view the full calendar of events for each location, click hereThrough Sunday, (North) 6406 N. I-35 Frontage Rd., Ste. 1100; (South) 3508 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste 200; (East) 1501 E. 7th St.  

Catch a Comic (or 100) at Moontower Comedy Festival

Celebrating the 10th year of the four-day humor binge, Moontower Comedy Festival returns with over 100 comedians at 10 Austin venues through its finale on Saturday night. Midnight shows at the Paramount Theatre will return with Bob The Drag Queen, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and other headliners include Dave Attell, Leanne Morgan, and Your Mom’s House, which will be a live podcast taping. For the full schedule and badge options, visit hereThrough Saturday, multiple locations

Sip Spirits at Fierce Whiskers Distillery’s Grand Opening

Out to prove that a great American whiskey can come from a truly unexpected place, Fierce Whiskers Distillery is finally opening near McKinney Falls State Park on Saturday. The distillery has been in the works since 2015, and whiskey novices and connoisseurs can come see the tasting room and sample the brand’s Texas Tight Cut. A new food truck, Char, and Austin Oyster Co. will provide bites and there will be live music by Jake Harrell and the Nick Swift Band. Register for the free event here to receive event programming and enter the $1,000 Barrel Club Membership raffle. Saturday, 5333 Fleming Court

Welcome Fall at Barton Hill Farms

Hello, first day of autumn! Barton Hill Farms’ annual fall festival is returning this weekend with a “Hey Elon!” Space X-themed corn maze, pumpkin patch, and u-pick sunflowers and zinnias. Plenty of other family activities are on-site—a hayride trail, archery, and farm animals, to name a few—and the biergarten’s beverages (frozen sangria, anyone?) will be waiting for the parents. Buy your tickets in advance hereSaturday & Sunday, 1115 FM 969, Bastrop 

Support Austin’s Reuse Artists 

Shoppers can peruse recycled creations from over 40 community artists at Austin Creative Reuse’s Market Days this weekend. Things like 3D art, refurbished home goods, and upcycled clothing and jewelry will all be on display for purchase outside in the side lot. Make sure to grab an upcycled cactus planter at the board of directors table, where shoppers can also make their own quilted square to contribute to a community quilt project. For a full list of participating reuse artists, click hereSaturday & Sunday, 2005 Wheless Lane

Cheer on Austin FC

Enjoy an evening at the new Q2 Stadium while Austin FC faces LA Galaxy. The game starts Sunday at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets hereSunday, 10414 Mc Kalla Place

1 in 4 Moms Don’t Like Their Homes

Mother’s Day was this Sunday, and in a year full of homebuying buzz, many moms may be reflecting on their own home purchase.

As it turns out, a lot of moms have been left unsatisfied with their home — more than 1 in 4 wish they had purchased a different home, according to a new study by LendingTree. Moms are also nearly twice as likely to experience homebuyer’s remorse than dads, only 14 percent of which experience those same feelings of regret toward their home.

For this report, LendingTree commissioned an online survey through experience management firm Qualtrics of 1,006 parents with kids aged 18 or younger. The survey ran from April 8 through April 15, 2021.

As the market continues to go strong, LendingTree’s study found that a whopping 64 percent of parents are considering selling their home in order to try and find the dream home they may have missed before.

Here are the numbers:

Most parents wish they had a larger kitchen, at 23 percent of survey respondents. After that, the things parents most wanted to change was their amount of outdoor space (14 percent) and their home’s location (11 percent), all somewhat predictable factors given the pandemic’s impact on how people live and have come to see their homes more as a sanctuary.

Broken down by gender, dads showed a stronger preference for a larger kitchen (26 percent of dads compared to 17 percent of moms), while moms showed a greater desire to change the overall layout of their home (13 percent of moms compared to 7 percent of dads).

More than 1 in 5 parents reported that they feel frustrated about their home on a daily basis, adding stress to their lives. In total, 64 percent of parents said their lives would be less stressful if they could eliminate the pain points of their home. More dads felt their home’s pain points weighing on them at 72 percent, while just 54 percent of moms said removing their home’s pain points would reduce their stress.

A sizable portion of parents have called in the professionals for their home, with 42 percent reporting they’ve used designers or professional organizers. Another 25 percent of parents stated that they would like to use these kinds of professional services to help with their home’s pain points.

Staying at home for most of the year has resulted in parents increasing their spending on home decor too — 51 percent of parent homeowners said they spent more money than usual on home decor within the last year. For 35 percent of parents, those costs added up to at least $1,000.

When it comes to sharing the true cost of those home decor expenses, dad was guilty more often than mom: 79 percent of dads said they’ve purchased home items and hid their true cost, while 50 percent of moms did the same.

Inman Select | BY LILLIAN DICKERSON | May 07, 2021

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