Category Archives: Tips & Advice

How Much Do You Know About the Radon Levels in Your Home?

georgiaradonmapDid you know that January is Radon Action Month?  No?  Well, are you even sure what radon is?  If you’re like a lot of people, you may have heard about the hazards of radon in passing; however, whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, it’s important to be aware of what it is and why it matters to your life.

Plain and simple, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released by rock, soil, and water, which can build up to dangerous levels within any home.  In the past, many people believed that homes built upon slab foundations were immune to this odorless, invisible gas; however, it’s important to note that it can be found within old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Breathing radon can greatly increase your risk of lung cancer, which has actually made it the number one cause of lung cancer among people who do not smoke.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer in the U.S. each year.

With this, it’s important to note that not only has radon been found in every state, but its levels can vary greatly between homes within the same area.  In the United States, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air), while the average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L.  According to the EPA, it is recommended that people consider fixing their homes if their radon levels sit between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.

If it is discovered that your home contains high levels of radon, it’s not only possible to fix the problem, but it can be done for about the same cost as other common home repairs.  While your personal situation will still depend upon how your home was built and how you use it, it’s important to note that testing for it is incredibly easy and incredibly worthwhile.

If you have questions about the process or you’re concerned about your home, I would love to put you in touch with a qualified inspector who can help keep you and your family safe.

Please do not hesitate to contact me.

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

Buying a Home? Set Yourself Up for Success

bigstock-African-American-family-celebr-14087630While some of us may be prone to spontaneous bouts of spending or find ourselves unable to stick to a strict budgeting system, when it comes to buying a home, it’s important to remember that such a large financial decision warrants more than a few helpings of discretion, sensibility, and budgeting.

With that being said, it’s important to stay on the right path, especially if financial discipline remains a challenge for you.  Therefore, the following tips will help you keep your eye on the prize.

KEEP SCORE: Plain and simple, the better your credit score, the better your mortgage terms will wind up being when it comes time to apply for a loan.  While improving a depressed score may take a good deal of work, a good credit rating can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.  Therefore, start by reviewing your credit a few months before you intend to place your loan application and if your score is in the 600s or lower, along with making consistent on-time payments, try to pay down your balances so they sit below 30% of your limit.

CONSIDER ALL COSTS: Sure, the cost of the home itself is a great starting point, but it’s important to factor in all of the other costs of homeownership, such as taxes and insurance, as well as other expenses such as utilities and homeowner association fees.  With that, don’t forget about the ever-necessary rainy day fund which will help you cope when various issues demand repair and go into the process with the understanding that the average homeowner spends 1-4% of a home’s value on property maintenance each year.

BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR SEARCH: In our culture of instant gratification, it can be a little difficult to distinguish between wants and needs, but in order to make a sensible housing decision, making the distinction between the two is imperative.  When it comes to building your list of must-haves, include items that will directly affect your quality of life, such as the home’s location, its price, the number of bedrooms, and the its square footage.  While you may have your heart set on hardwoods and granite, it’s important to prepare yourself for life’s necessary concessions so that you can remain flexible and stay within your budget.

KEEP YOUR COOL: Purchasing new things is exhilarating for everyone; however, buying a home is not like getting excited over a new pair of shoes.  Using a bit of self-restrain will not only prevent you from overspending or choosing a home that doesn’t fully meet your needs, but it will protect you in markets where the homes are selling quickly.  Even if you have your heart set on someplace you thought would be perfect, be prepared to walk away if the home inspection reveals more defects than your able to deal with.  With this, maintain a sense of calm if you find yourself in the middle of a bidding war, as it can push you to spend more than is prudent.  At the end of the day, maintaining a sense of patience will help you remember that whether your offer is accepted or the home inspection goes off without a hitch, there are always other great homes available.

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

The Myths and Realities of Home Appraisals

78377971Whether you’re planning on buying or selling a home, chances are good that you’ll come into contact with an appraiser at some point; however, while most of us have a basic understanding of what a home appraisal is, there are a lot of myths that surround the process that are worth understanding before making the decision to buy or sell.

MYTH: The appraised value of a property will vary depending upon whether the appraisal has been completed for the buyer or seller.

REALITY: Since the appraiser has no vested interest in the outcome of the appraisal, they should conduct their assessment with a sense of objectivity and no special regard for the party who initiated the process.

MYTH: A home’s market value should be in line with its replacement cost.

REALITY: While market value seems like it should be related to replacement cost, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two ideas since they are actually quite different.  For example, even though your home’s replacement cost may be set at $450,000, its market value may sit closer to $400,000.  In short, market value represents the amount of money a buyer would likely pay when not under pressure to buy or sell, while replacement cost represents the actual dollar amount required to reconstruct the property in-kind.

MYTH: Appraisers use a formula, which details the specific price per square foot, to settle upon the value of a home.

REALITY: When an appraisal is completed, all factors pertaining to the home’s value are taking into account, including its location, condition, size, proximity to local facilities, and recent sale prices of comparable properties.

MYTH: When the sale prices of homes in any given area are reported to be rising by a particular percentage, local homeowners can expect their individual properties to appreciate by the same percentage.

REALITY: While area can make a difference, value appreciation of specific properties is still determined on an individual basis, which takes into account factors such as data on comparable properties and other relevant considerations.

MYTH: When applying for purchase or refinancing loans, consumers pay for their appraisal, which means they “own” it upon completion.

REALITY: While a small portion of your loan may go towards paying for the appraisal, it is, in fact, legally owned by the lender.  Still, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, consumers who submit a written request must be furnished with a copy of their appraisal report.

MYTH: An appraisal is the same as a home inspection.

REALITY: Yes, at first glance the two job descriptions may seem similar; however, their final functions remain quite different.  The purpose of an appraiser is to form an opinion of the value of a home—and to process the resulting report—while a home inspector determines the condition of the home and its major components before stating their findings.

In the end, if you’re looking to add value to your home for an expected appraisal or you would like to know more about the process, it’s important to speak with an experienced Realtor who can help you not only make the right decisions, but feel comfortable about the appraisal proceedings.

If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact me.  I’m always here.

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

New Home Trends for 2015

bigclosetWhile not everyone believes in establishing a New Year’s resolution each January, there’s truth to the idea that most of us still crave some sort of change or new beginning towards the end of December.  Sure, there are a lot of internal things that many of us hope to work on; however, a sizeable portion of our longed-for transformations involve physical things either in our appearance or in our surroundings.

Therefore, if you’re planning on selling your home or you simply want to give your space a fresh new look, it’s important to stay on top of the latest popular home trends.

According to several leading experts, the following is a list of some of the top home remodeling trends in 2015:

1.) OUT WITH THE CERAMIC FLOORING, IN WITH THE LUXURY VINYL TILE – If you’re going for a high-end look at a more affordable price, homeowners in 2015 will be opting for luxury vinyl instead of ceramic.

2.) MORE PAINTED KITCHEN CABINETS, LESS STAINLESS STEEL –  Instead of standard wood staining, you can expect to see more painted cabinets with white trim; however, many people are beginning to move away from stainless steel appliances because they show fingerprints very easily.

3.) MAINTENANCE-FREE COUNTERTOPS – Sure, granite countertops have been the Mecca of kitchen upgrades for a long time, but it’s possible that they may have already seen their day.  Starting in 2015, we’ll start seeing a greater demand for high-end countertops that require much less maintenance, such as soapstone, engineered stone, or zinc.

4.) COOLER BATHROOM COLORS – If you like cool grays, greens, blues, and white, you’ll be thrilled to learn that in the bathrooms of the latest trending homes, buyers are leaning towards cooler colors for both their walls and décor.

5.) ADDING “KEEPING ROOMS” – It’s okay if you’ve never heard of a “keeping room,” as long as you know that they’re rapidly becoming a staple in many new homes.  As a somewhat small room located off the kitchen, it’s a great place for the kids to play with all of their toys or someplace you can use as a study or media room.

6.) LARGER CLOSETS AND BATHROOMS – Surprisingly (or maybe not), less emphasis is being placed upon bedroom space and more is being placed on larger closets and bathrooms.  While large bedrooms seem nice in theory, they tend to be a waste of space since many of us fail to spend much time in them.  To the contrary, closet space tends to be a coveted luxury, as does having enough room to get read in the bathroom each morning.

CONCLUSION

If you’re thinking about placing your home on the market in the spring, now is the perfect time to think about redecorating your home in the hopes of attracting interested buyers.  If you’d like some advice about local trends or want to settle upon the best course of action for your home, please call me.

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

Six Pricing Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid

house-for-sale1When attempting to sell your home, the goal is to garner as much money for your investment as possible; however, the catch-22 is that one of the key factors to actually encouraging interest on your property is to offer a fair price.  Therefore, if you are serious about finding the right buyer, establishing a solid pricing strategy is an absolute must.

With this in mind, it’s important to start by being aware of the six common pricing mistakes that all sellers should attempt to avoid.

1.) OVERPRICING FROM THE START: Sure, you obviously love your home and feel that it’s the best property on the block; however, while it may seem natural to start with a listing price that is relative to the value you see, making the mistake of overpricing your home at the outset could deter potential buyers—especially if recent sales and other neighborhood factors fail to justify your starting point.  In addition, since multiple price reductions tend to keep properties on the market for longer periods of time, you may be setting yourself up for avoidable frustration.

2.) LEAVING OUT POTENTIAL BUYERS IN ONLINE SEARCHES: When perusing through online listings, the first parameter that most buyers use to narrow their options is price.  For example, if a buyer’s target price range is $250,000 to $300,000, your home will never get seen if it’s listed at $305,000.  While that last $5000 may be important to you, it’s probably wise to settle upon $300,000 so changes are better that you’ll capture buyers in the ranges above and below your price.

Ultimately, what you decide upon is up to you and your agent, but if you’re already teetering on your price anyway, having a bit of flexibility might be worth considering.

3.) NOT TAKING RECENTLY SOLD PROPERTIES INTO ACCOUNT: While it may seem logical to base your starting price off of what other homes are listed for in your area, it’s important to understand that in order to generate buyer interest, you should consider final sale prices instead.  Having a solid understanding of the recent sales in your neighborhood will not only help you to see the bigger picture, but bring you some peace of mind as well.

4.) GETTING TOO CREATIVE WITH YOUR ASKING PRICE: When shopping retail, there’s a reason prices tend to include round, easy numbers—i.e. $15.99, $220.00, $6.50—instead of complex combinations like $15.26 or $219.82.  In order to generate interest, you’ll want to make things easy for potential buyers by selecting a price that’s memorable and inviting.  Listing your home for $512,477 instead of $512,000 may not only give potential buyers pause, but divert unnecessary attention from your property to you, the seller.

5.) NOT BEING OPEN TO NEGOTIATION: Plain and simple, negotiation is a two-way street, which means finding a bit of common ground is important.  The quickest way to kill a sale is to refuse to budge in regards to your asking price or the other conditions involved in the final agreement.  Instead of digging your heels in from the very beginning, ask yourself whether you’d rather wait a long time to get your full asking price, or whether you’d like to close as soon as possible.  By thinking in those terms, you’re more likely to see the benefit in making a few concessions.

6.) IGNORING YOUR AGENT’S INSIGHTS: The first step in selling your home for an acceptable price is to not only select an experienced agent, but to listen to their advice.  Helping you sell your home is about more than simply placing it online or putting signs in the yard—it’s about looking at your individual situation from all angles, to include your home’s features, the local market, recent sales, and more.  Therefore, if you want to make an informed decision, make a point to listen to the information being provided.

If you would like to know more or if you want to begin the selling process, please feel free to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

Marie Dinsmore | 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