Category Archives: Tips & Advice

So, You’ve Bought an Imperfect House – Learn How to Deal With It

After months—and possibly even years—of planning, searching, and organizing, you’ve finally done it—you’ve signed the paperwork and left with the keys to your new home; however, unless your purchase is totally move-in ready, you’re just getting started.

renovation-businessIf you’ve decided to close on a house that could use a little bit of TLC, it’s important to understand the amount of money and effort it will take to make your home something you are truly happy with.  At the very least, a little paint will help spruce things up; however, in all reality, if there’s updating to be done, it may take more than a new color scheme.

Still, if this is your first house, it’s important to go into the process with realistic expectations about what kinds of time and money will be involved, as well as what you can reasonably expect for a final result.

To help you along the way, here are a few tips to make the process easier:

1.)  CAPITALIZE ON AN EMPTY HOUSE: While it may not be possible to delay your move-in date, if it’s even in the realm of possibilities, it presents a great opportunity to begin the transformation process without having to worry about getting your things covered with renovation dust.

2.) DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP: In our individualistic culture, many of us feel that we have to deal with things on our own, but what’s the point of having friends and family if you can’t exercise a bit of reciprocity when you need a few extra hands?  When it’s time to paint, turn it into a fun party with food and drinks, and chances are good that no one will mind the work.

3.) RELY ON EXPERTISE: There are times when pride can be a good thing; however, if you’re not totally sure what you’re doing, it’s important to swallow it when you need to admit that you cannot get the job done without the advice of your local hardware pro.  Don’t be shy about asking questions—that’s what they’re there for!

4.) HAVE PATIENCE: Yes, renovating your home—especially when you’re attempting to do it on your own—takes work, but if you attempt to rush or try to go beyond your comfort level, you’re likely to make mistakes.  Don’t risk making bad decisions when a little patience would have saved you a botched design.

5.) ORGANIZATION, ORGANIZATION: When you’re attempting to leave your old home, move into your new one, and manage renovations, staying organized is clearly easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean it’s not extremely important.  To get started, make a point of keeping all of your receipts in one place, registering new appliances and electronics, and filing for rebates within the first five days of making a purchase.  It might be tempting to postpone these tasks in the chaos of getting settled, but all that will do is lose you money in the long run.

If you’re considering a move, I’d love to help you get things going.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Get Started on Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

fall-house-e1410287548221While the weather is still relatively warm in this part of the country, it’s hard to miss the whispers of fall that have begun to make their way into the rustling leaves and cool, crisp mornings.  While autumn is characterized by a sort of sleepy transition into the frosty winter months, it’s also the perfect time to put a bit of effort into some do-it-yourself tasks that will have a positive impact on both the state of your home, as well as your wallet.

1.) GUTTERS: It’s not uncommon for most of us to overlook the true impact that gutters have on our property.  Without a whole lot of aesthetic appeal, it’s easy to forget that they divert thousands of gallons of water from our homes on an annual basis.  Unless you make a point to keep them clean, clogged gutters can lead to water in your home and an abundance of rust, rot, and corrosion.  Therefore, before the foliage really begins to change, make a point to have your gutters thoroughly cleaned and covered with a mesh guard.

2.) STOP LEAKS: When it comes to energy costs, nothing can hurt your wallet like air leaks around windows and doors.  Generally speaking, gaps in your weather stripping and caulk may actually add about 10% to your heating bill, so it’s important to look for leaks.  For areas that appear to need your attention, replace any worn weather stripping or missing/damaged caulk and don’t forget to check around all electrical, cable, and phone entry points.

3.) DON’T NEGLECT YOUR ROOF: Instead of waiting until there’s water coming through your ceiling, it’s important to inspect your roof so that little annoyances are stopped before they become massive problems.

Start by inspecting your roof from top to bottom and looking for cracks and wind damage, as well as missing, broken, or curled shingles.  While you’re up there, take a look into your gutters—if you notice large accumulations of granules, your roof may be shedding its coating, which means further issues are just around the corner.

4.) INSPECT YOUR FURNACE: While it may seem a bit redundant, it’s important to have your furnace inspected by a professional once a year.  Again, while it may cost you a little bit of money, prevention will save you from having to shell out an abundance of money for large repairs and replacements.

On your own, pay attention to things such as noisy belts, erratic behavior, and general poor performance.  All of these things can be signs that your parts are faulty, worn, or damaged, or that your heating ducts are blocked.

5.) STAY ON TOP OF GAS PROBLEMS: If you have a gas heater, keeping it in working condition is not only a cost issue, but a safety issue as well.  Having a professional check it each year will not only save you money in operating costs, but help prevent poisonous gases from leeching into the air of your home.

6.) FIRE PROOFING: Sure, the likelihood of your home going up in flames is pretty slim; however, it happens and for anyone who has seen what a house fire looks like, the sight is truly horrific.  Therefore, as we head towards winter and things like Christmas lights and trees, it’s important to take some extra steps to protect your family in case of a fire.

The first step involves not only replacing the batteries in each of your smoke detectors (don’t neglect your carbon monoxide detectors as well!), but testing them and making sure one is installed on every floor of your home—including the basement.

Next consider drawing up a few fire escape plans and make sure there’s no furniture or large items blocking any potential exits (to include windows).  If you’ve found yourself accumulating things like old newspapers or leftover hazardous chemicals, be aware of the fact that they present an increased fire hazard, so getting rid of them will help keep your family safe.

CONCLUSION

In the end, keeping your home in working order throughout the winter doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.  If you stay on top of the little things and diligently complete them on an annual basis, then the chances that you’ll have to deal with large issues goes down exponentially.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Tips For Purchasing a Luxury Home

Luxury Home Pool ShotIf you’ve worked hard for years in an effort to accrue a certain income level, then at some point, you’re likely to want to invest your hard-earned money into a lavish home that you and your family can enjoy.  Whether it’s a modern high-rise condo or a sprawling golf course estate, there are a few items that should be considered before purchasing a luxury home.

1.) UNDERSTAND THE SEARCH PROCESS: While most buyers have the option of perusing home listings on large real estate search engines, the house hunting process can be somewhat different if you’re looking to buy within the luxury market.  Often times, in an effort to protect the seller’s privacy, many high-end homes go unlisted and tend to be found through the Realtor’s personal connections instead of the MLS.

2.) DON’T PLACE TOO MUCH WEIGHT ON PHOTOS: Surprisingly, large homes don’t always show well in photos, especially since many of the details which make them truly amazing are better seen in person.  If you’re concerned about what is around the property, perform a search on Google Earth to get a better idea of what the area looks like, but when it comes to viewing the home itself, make a point to go beyond the pictures.

3.) WORK WITH A LOCAL EXPERT: While this is important in any real estate transaction, it’s even more important when you’re considering a luxury home.  Plain and simple, working with a knowledgeable Realtor is critical since most high-end properties offer viewings by appointment only.  By selecting a buyer’s agent who not only knows the area but has an abundance of connections, you’re more likely to have success.

4.) DOCUMENTATION IS VITAL: Even though the housing market has begun to turn around, there is still a great deal of scrutiny in the luxury market, which means financial documentation is imperative.  Generally speaking, most people who are able to afford high-end properties are working with accountants and money managers who have diligently sheltered their money; however, while this may be important wealth protection, it makes things difficult when banks are pushing for income verification.

5.) HIRE SMART ADVISORS: Since you’re the one purchasing the home, you want to be the one making the ultimate decisions; however, it’s important to have reliable advisors to help you along the way.  If you’re working with both a financial planner and a Realtor, you’ll want to make sure they’re on the same page.  Good advisors will not make your decisions for you, but they will keep you from making rash decisions that may hurt you in the long run.

In regards to hiring the proper Realtor, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all agents are the same.  Just like any other industry, real estate professionals tend to have varying specialties, so when it comes to working with someone, it’s a good idea to consider Realtors who are Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialists (CHLMS).  This designation, which is given by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (www.luxuryhomemarketing.com), helps buyers feel confident that they’ve selected an agent who has documented performance in the top 10% of their market and has also successfully demonstrated their expertise in the luxury home field.

In the end, making a purchase within the luxury home market is obviously not something you just want to jump into without a lot of planning and preparation.  Purchasing a home is a massive investment for anyone; however, there’s something to be said for spending the amount of money that most high-end homes require.  Don’t get caught up in the excitement—think smart, hire smart, and make sure you’ve dotted your “I’s” and crossed all of your “t’s.”

If you’d like to speak with a Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialist in your area, you can search for members through their website at www.luxuryhomemarketing.com, or you can contact me at your earliest convenience.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialist | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

So, What Exactly is the Fair Housing Act?

My-interracial-nuclear-familyWhen it comes to real estate and most forms of housing, the Fair Housing Act creates a blanket of sorts that envelops those looking to purchase or rent a residence.  In essence, while there are still stipulations, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability cannot be a deciding factor in things such as refusing to rent or sell housing, set different terms or conditions, or deny a dwelling.

Dating back to the 1960’s, the large political movements pushing to outlaw discrimination also set their sights on a broad range of housing transactions—to include mortgage lending, advertising, zoning, and homeowner’s insurance.  Termed fair or open housing, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged congress to finally pass the federal Fair Housing Act, which sought to create a cohesive housing market in which a person’s look, culture, or background would not limit their access to property.

WHAT IS PROHIBITED?

In the sale and rental of housing, no one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple
  • listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing

In mortgage lending, no one may take any of the following actions on the basis of:

  • race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability
  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan;
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans;
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees;
  • Discriminate in appraising property;
  • Refuse to purchase a loan; or
  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

Individuals who feel that they have been discriminated against in the housing process can lodge a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity (FHEO), where the issue in question will be forwarded to the state; however, it’s important to note that local agencies will be investigating the case instead of FHEO.

If you have any questions, I would love to be of service.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Appraisers vs. Online Automated Valuation: Know the Difference

AVM-copyBig news came down the wire last week when it was announced that Zillow had acquired Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock options.  While a lot of people may not see how this merger will directly impact their life, for home buyers or sellers, it’s always a good idea to understand the difference between “zestimates”—home value estimates taken from Zillow—or Automated Valuation Models (AVM) and real people.

When it comes to AVM’s, they tend to work best on “cookie cutter” homes where most of the properties look relatively similar to one another.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that very few lenders rely solely on AVM’s for loan decisions since they can’t always accurately value unique properties such as those sitting on Lake Lanier, various upscale golf courses, and homes with a great deal of acreage.

Therefore, the following is a list of things that an automated or non-appraiser valuation (such as the kind you would find on Zillow) won’t tell you.  Before you consider purchasing a home based on these types of online valuations, it’s important to understand the difference.

1.)    IS THE PHYSICAL HOUSE STILL STANDING WITH ACCURATE SQUARE FOOTAGE?  Sites like Zillow obtain their information from courthouse and property data regarding location and square footage, which means it’s not based on an actual appraiser’s home measurement.  If you’re considering a house, you’ll obviously want to know for sure that it has things like four walls and a roof; therefore, it’s not always smart to assume that a computer is the best source for up-to-date data.

2.)    ARE THERE UNIQUE FEATURES WHICH MIGHT ADD OR DETRACT FROM THE PROPERTY VALUE?  Sure, the computer might value a property at $300,000; however, that number might be subject to extenuating circumstances such as the train tracks just down the road or the desirable parks right outside the neighborhood.

3.)    WHAT VARIABLES IMPACT COMPARABLE SALES?  While a computer might compare your property to similar, recently sold property a ¼ mile away, it doesn’t mean all of the other variables are in line.  The properties might be in a different school district, sit on different roads, be flood-prone, or have been sold under duress.

4.)    ARE THERE MARKET FLUCTUATIONS?  Since automated online systems utilize data from recent, nearby sales, they may not account for neighborhoods that are beginning to experience upturns or downturns.

5.)    IS YOUR APPRAISER QUALIFIED?  When you work with an appraiser, you’re generally aware of the person’s qualifications and whether they will complete your project with professionalism, solid ethics, and judgment; however, when it comes to free online services, you have no idea who is behind the values and either way, they will never compare to the work of a physical, on-site appraiser.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Luxury Home Specialist | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Community Resources

WELCOME

2019 Welcome Services

The Dinsmore Team has created this handy guide for both Buyers and Sellers. The guide lists trusted service providers that we use personally and professionally. The providers listed service the Forsyth and North Fulton County areas.

2014 Complete Guide to Moving

This 20-Page Guide will be your comprehensive source for selling your home and planning your move. It includes tips for getting ready to sell, planning your move, packing and transitioning into your new home.

2014 Home Owners Tip Guide

This 20-Page Guide will help you develop an annual maintenance schedule for your home's systems and appliances to help you avoid bigger problems by taking care of them while they are small. It's also a great resource for trouble shooting malfunctions on your own, saving you time and money.


utilities

Looking for a fast way to connect all of your utility services online? Try Connect Utilities.

Please let us know if there are other resources you'd like to see.

Marie@DinsmoreTeam.com

770-712-7789