You’ve heard it before: List your home early in the year. That way, you’ll be ready to close the deal when home sales peak in June. But what exactly does “early in the year” mean?

Based on an analysis of supply, demand and sellers’ outcomes in “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” co-authors Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries have revealed the magic window to list your home: mid-March to mid-April. (For those who like sports analogies, think March Madness to The Masters.)

We also went one step further to determine the exact weeks you should list in different parts of the country. Turns out, the best time to list follows weather patterns. In markets with warm climates like Miami, the magic window starts now. But in places with harsh winters like Boston, waiting until mid- to late April is your best bet.

What’s so magical about the magic window? It’s when you’ll sell your home faster and for more money. The data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. That’s a national premium worth more than $4,000. And in hot markets like San Francisco, that could mean an extra $22,000 in your pocket!

Here’s why:

Out with the old, in with the new

Because the majority of home shoppers now start their search on Zillow or another site refreshed multiple times a day, listings can become old news fast.

As a home seller, your biggest competition is a surge in new homes for sale, pushing yours lower in search results. The largest surge nationally occurs in the last weeks of February and into early March, so if you list your home before then you may quickly become outranked.

Listing your home in late March or early April, however, means you’ll likely bypass this surge.

You want a marriage, not a fling

When you’re looking to sell, you don’t want to attract people who are just looking. You want someone who’s serious about buying.

How do you know if a buyer is serious? One way is to see if they’ve contacted a real estate agent or mortgage broker, signaling they’re ready to take the next step in the home buying process.

Data shows agent and lender contacts build in early April, so this is a good time to put your home on the market if you want to attract serious buyers.

Time is money

In addition to attracting a serious buyer, you likely care about two things: how quickly and how much you sell your home for. Turns out, the two go hand-in-hand.

After Jan. 1, the first significant drop in the time listings typically spend on the market is in late March. This is also when the difference between final sale prices and list prices is highest.


Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Porchlight, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design.

Festival Latino Americano 2016

Mingle with more than 20,000 other culture and music lovers at one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events, the Latin American Festival! The Latin American Coalition’s signature cultural event is celebrating 26 years of music, food, and fun.


Saturday October 8, 2016 at Symphony Park.

We are thrilled to announce headlining this year’s festival is Nicaraguan Grammy Winning Salsa singer Luis Enrique with Venezuela’s ska superstars Desorden Publico and Mexican-American Grammy Award winners, La Santa Cecilia.


$5 * Children 8 & under are free.

For more information contact Tony Arreaza via email or at 980.498.2927
No outside food, alcohol, or coolers permitted. No dogs allowed. No weapons.



Why Use A Realtor® To Sell

Forms You Will Need to Review Before Someone Makes an Offer on You House:


Working with Real Estate Agents

Fair Housing


G.S. 47E requires owners of residential real estate (single-family homes and buildings with up to four dwelling units) to furnish purchasers a property disclosure statement. This form is the only one approved for this purpose.



Why use a Realtor®?

Buying a home is an important investment and a complex process. Selling your home requires care and expertise. A Realtor® brings professional expertise, local knowledge and trustworthy information.

Whether it’s your first home or you’re trading up, and whether you’re moving across town or across the country, connect with a Realtor® to get the best value for your investment.

The term “Realtor®” is a registered collective membership mark identifying a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and who also is affiliated with a state and local Realtor® association.

A Realtor® is different from a real estate licensee. All individuals legally practicing real estate in the US are licensed, but not all are Realtors®. Only Realtors® subscribe to a strict code of ethics that goes beyond what is required by law. Before engaging the services of a real estate professional, ask if he or she is a Realtor®. Learn more about the use of the term “Realtor®.”


  • How my Realtor® will help me sell my home

    • Setting the Stage

      • Your Realtor® will explain how agency works, and the difference between your agent and other agents who may be involved in aspects of the transaction, but actually represent another party. You’ll be given the Working with Real Estate Agents brochure to help you know your rights.
      • Your Realtor® will give you an overview of the current market conditions and projections.
      • Your Realtor® will perform an exterior curb assessment of your home.
    • The Price is Right

      • Your Realtor® will research all comparable properties and the sales activity for the past six months to a year from MLS and public records databases to prepare a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) to establish fair market value.
      • Your Realtor® will perform an exterior curb assessment of your home and advise you on features in high demand with buyers in the current market.
      • Your Realtor® will schedule showings for qualified, serious buyers.
    • The Marketing Strategy

      • Your Realtor® will listen to your needs and create an effective and strategic marketing plan geared to maximize return while staying in your comfort zone.
      • Your Realtor® will explain the advantages and disadvantages of various syndication services, IDX, web marketing and more.
      • Your Realtor® has access to an extensive network of buyer’s agents and the multiple listing service.
    • The Road to Closing

      • Your Realtor® will schedule your pre-closing walkthrough and help you negotiate repairs.
      • Your Realtor® will ensure everything is prepared for closing by coordinating with the lender, title company and attorney.
      • Your Realtor® will help you understand the various closing documents.
    • Life After Closing

      • Your Realtor® will help you resolve or clarify any outstanding repair conflicts with the buyer.
      • Your Realtor® will continue to be your valuable information source for all things related to homeownership. Realtors® have the best connections in the industry; they know the best contractors, painters and handymen to ensure that your maintenance or renovation needs are well met.

     © Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association 2015

How to Sell Your Home ASAP

Selling a home can often take months, even years. So what if you have to unload your home in, say, two weeks?

It can happen: Whether you need to relocate for a new job, to care for an elderly family member who’s suddenly fallen ill, or because you simply can’t handle your mortgage payments for even one more month, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might need to unload your precious home at lightning speed.

It can be done. Just check out these tactics and tips if time is of the essence.

Price it to move

While everyone dreams of selling their home for top dollar, if you need to sell quickly, this is one time to price your home on the modest end—even a bit below its actual value.

“A conservative list price should encourage multiple offers and lead to a faster sale,” says Carrie Benuska, a Realtor® at John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, CA.

Set a hard deadline

Want to bring buyers out of the woodwork quickly? It’s easy: Set a deadline for offers.

You can make this clear in your listing by saying you will be accepting offers only until a certain date—even as tight as one to two weeks after your home is listed for sale. That said, you should probably not announce why you need to sell quickly due to a new job or other circumstance, because buyers will smell desperation and take advantage of that. Just state your deadline without further explanation, and watch the offers roll in.

Sell to a flipper

There’s no faster home sale out there than to a flipper. These buyers enable you to usually sell the home as is—often for cash—removing the burden of costly home repairs.

“These situations usually appeal to homeowners who just need to get a property off their hands,” says Benuska. But there are downsides: Flippers may demand below-market price, so they can resell it later for a larger profit. So just be sure your flipper isn’t fleecing you up the wazoo; at the very least, compare offers from two or more investors so they can’t steamroll you.

Offer incentives

“Some sellers offer cash for the buyer’s agent if a full-price offer is received by a specific date,” says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, TX. Other times, the incentive is for the buyer who might score a refrigerator or other furniture for acting fast.

“I recently saw an offer that included seven flat-screen televisions and two Tempur-Pedic mattresses,” says Flynn.

Sell to a developer

It may sound drastic, but if you want to sell simply and quickly, consider selling directly to a developer. That person would purchase your home for the value of its land, tear down the property, and build a new one in its place.

“This might be a good option for people in urban or suburban areas where land is scarce and the home is older and its value has depreciated,” explains Cheryl Julcher, principal and managing broker of Yellow Brick Properties in Belleville, IL. “The benefit for the seller is that the condition of the home is irrelevant—it’s going to be torn down anyway. The downside is the seller has to reconcile the fact that their home will cease to exist, which can be tough emotionally.”

Avoid guaranteed sales programs

If you ever see a sign that reads, “If we don’t sell your home in 30 days, we’ll buy it,” run away fast.

“These are complete scams,” says Janine Acquafredda, associate broker at House-N-Key Realty in Brooklyn, NY. Here’s how it usually works: The real estate agent promises to list a home for a fixed period of time and if it’s not sold, he or she will buy it directly from the seller.

“It sounds like a good deal because in either case, the owner makes a sale,” says Acquafredda. “In reality, the agent often has no intention of putting the home on the market and in the end, pays the lowest possible market price for the home.”

Talk to your neighbors

Before you list your home on the market, check in with the locals.

“Lots of times, people want to live near relatives or they’re looking to buy in their own neighborhood,” says Acquafredda. “Selling to a neighbor speeds up the entire process, and you won’t have to pay for marketing, advertising, and, in some states, the attorney’s fee.”

Be flexible

Do potential buyers want to view your home at 6 p.m. on a Saturday? Let ’em in.

“Ease of showing is a huge factor in whether a home sells quickly,” says Acquafredda. “When a buyer is ready, willing, and able, you can strike while the iron is hot.”

FROM: Elise Sole is a New Yorker living in Los Angeles. She’s been an editor at Yahoo, Women’s Health, Redbook, and Marie Claire, and has written for publications such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and AOL.

5 Things You Should Know About Real Estate Disclosures

It’s standard practice in real estate to give a home a fresh coat of paint before putting it on the market. Nine out of 10 times, the intention is to show the property at its best. But every so often, the seller paints the house in hopes of covering something up.

That’s why I always triple-check the disclosure documents of newly painted houses, to ensure there were no recent leaks or other damage. It’s the seller’s obligation to disclose these kinds of issues. And it’s the buyer’s responsibility to be completely aware of past problems before signing on the dotted line.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, here are five things you should know about real estate disclosures.

1. What is a disclosure?

Disclosure statements, which can come in a variety of forms, are the buyer’s opportunity to learn as much as they can about the property and the seller’s experience in it.

Potential seller disclosures range from knowledge of leaky windows to loud neighbors to information about a major construction or development project nearby. Not only do disclosure documents serve to inform buyers, they can protect the sellers from future legal action. It is the seller’s chance to lay out anything that can negatively affect the value, usefulness or enjoyment of the property.

Leaking windows — bad coincidence?

I once had a buyer call me after the first rainstorm of the season. The windows in the master bedroom were leaking. We checked back on the disclosure documents from the sale and there wasn’t any mention of the leaks. Nothing showed up in the property inspection report at the time of escrow, either.

Unfortunately for the buyers, I said, this is part of homeownership. This could be the result of something that was building over time. I thought that was the end of it. The same client called back a few weeks later. They had workers out to check on the siding. That prompted their neighbor to inquire what they were up to. According to the neighbor, the previous owner of my client’s property had the same siding issues and had discussed it with the neighbor.

Given this new information, it was clear the previous seller had not properly disclosed. I had the buyers do more investigation, get bids and understand what the issue was. Armed with the knowledge of the neighbor and the approximate costs, we went back to the seller, through his agent. Though it did not turn into a lawsuit, the seller took responsibility and the situation was resolved quickly and fairly.

But too often, the lack of proper disclosure can result in a lawsuit. I heard of a story in which a buyer bought a house, with the seller disclosing that a kitchen renovation was done without permits. A few years later, that buyer went to sell the property but didn’t disclose that the previous owner had renovated the kitchen without a permit. The new buyer wanted to do some electrical work with a permit. The city inspector discovered that some things had not been done to code. The inspector dug deeper and realized that much of the kitchen renovation (both plumbing and electrical) was not to code. The new buyer was on the hook for ripping out the kitchen and doing it over. A lawsuit arose between the current owner and the second seller for not disclosing. The original sellers had covered themselves, but the second seller had not.

2. How does a seller go about making a disclosure to the buyer?

Disclosure laws vary from state to state, even down to the city and county level. California has some of the most stringent disclosure requirements. Often, sellers there are required to complete or sign off on over 50 pages of documents, such as a Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement, Lead Based Paint Disclosure, Advisories about Market Conditions and even Megan’s Law Disclosures.

Depending on where you live, sellers can be on the hook for what they disclose (or fail to) for up to ten years. I’ve seen agents and sellers take all types of approaches when dealing with property disclosures. More than anything, I always tell sellers to err on the side of caution. If you know it, disclose it. If you try to hide something, it can come back to bite you long after the sale and it is just not worth it.

Disclosure typically comes in the form of boilerplate documents (put together by the local or state Realtor association), where the seller is responsible for answering a series of yes/no questions detailing their home and their experience there.

Aside from the boilerplate documents a seller is required to complete, if there is any written (or sometimes verbal) communication regarding something negative about the property, it should be disclosed to the buyer. For example, there was a property for sale with a dispute over a tree on the property line and whose responsibility it was. The neighbor faxed a letter to the seller’s real estate agent documenting the dispute. This immediately became a disclosure item that both the seller and buyer needed to sign off on.

Bottom line: Disclosure statements are legal documents that can stand up in court.

3. What do sellers typically disclose to potential buyers?

The work and upgrades sellers have done to their property are a common disclosure, whether the work was done with or without permits. If done with permits, buyers are advised to cross check the seller’s disclosure with the city building permit report. Doing work without the city signing off with a permit is a key disclosure. If the work was not approved by the city, it may not have been performed to code and may cause a fire or health hazard. Buyers should independently investigate any non-permit work that was done.

Other common disclosures include the existence of pets, termite problems, neighborhood nuisances, any history of property line disputes, and defects or malfunctions with major systems or appliances. Disclosure documents often ask sellers if they are involved in bankruptcy proceedings, if there any liens on the property, and so on. Failure to disclose can result in a messy conflict with the buyer after the sale.

Some disclosure documents are very detailed. For instance, among the questions posed by the San Francisco Association of Realtors disclosure statement are:

  • Is there any non-tempered glass on shower or sliding doors?
  • Have there been any unusual odor problems in the neighborhood?
  • Was there any death on the property in the last three years?

4. Is a disclosure the same as an inspection? Are the two related?

A disclosure is something given to the buyer by the seller documenting their knowledge of the property. It is not the same thing as an inspection; because there are things the seller may not be aware of that an inspection brings to light.

This is why a property inspection should always be done by the buyer while in escrow. The inspector will check the property out from top to bottom, many times verifying what the seller has disclosed but sometimes bringing to light new issues. Often, we will see sellers hire a property inspector before going on the market. It seems backwards, but this is the sellers’ opportunity to hire an independent party to inspect the property, in case they missed or were not aware of something.

5. When does the buyer typically receive a seller’s disclosure statements?

In most markets, disclosure documents are provided to buyers once the seller has accepted their offer. In addition to their inspections or loan contingency, the buyer has an opportunity to review the seller’s disclosures. If the buyer discovers something negative about the property through disclosure, he can usually back out of the offer without losing his escrow deposit.

In some markets, sellers provide these disclosures to the buyers even before they receive an offer. Some sellers prefer to have buyers know everything they need to know up front. This is also smart because it saves everyone time, hassle and expense by preventing deals from falling apart once they’re in escrow.

Buyers are required to sign off on disclosure documents and reports. So it’s important to review them carefully and ask questions if you need to.

Full disclosure upfront is the way to go

In some ways, providing full disclosure can actually help a seller. As a Realtor reviewing disclosures with potential buyers, I like to see a comprehensive set of disclosure documents. It shows that the seller is thorough and upfront. This goes a long way toward giving buyers peace of mind, and in this market, anything you can do to move buyers off the dime is worth considering.

Author : 

Brendon DeSimone is a nationally recognized real estate expert and author of the book, Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A fifteen year veteran of the residential real estate industry, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists, and he is regularly quoted in local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge Offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.

Clean to Sell

Many people get so intimidated when it comes to cleaning when preparing to sell a home. It’s a lot like detailing a car before you sell it. You want everything squeaky clean. Here, I’ll help you remember what to clean, including places that are so easy to overlook because buyers will look everywhere.

To make it more fun, get your family and friends to help and have a special dinner or barbecue afterwards. If you really don’t see yourself doing a good job, it might be worth the investment to hire a professional cleaning service. Since cleaning comes after de-cluttering, I’m going to assume you’ve already de-cluttered the home and are ready to do a full cleaning, which is much easier to do after you’ve removed a good chunk of your belongings.

Let’s get started, room by room. First, make sure you have all the supplies you need.You’ll quickly lose motivation if you have to stop to find supplies or go out and buy them. Some tasks are repeated in every room, so to avoid being repetitive, I’ll include these in a general list at the end.

This hallway is in need of a bit of cleaning before it's ready for the market. - Copyright 2010 by Brankdonink2001
Cleaning is a critical part of home staging. This hallway is in need of a bit of cleaning before it’s ready for the market. Copyright 2010 by Brankdonink2001

1.  Entry

Guests will spend a good portion of time here as they walk in, look around, take their coats/shoes off and take in their surroundings.

  • Make sure the door and all hardware are sparkling clean.
  • Wipe off any fingerprints, which are quite common here.
  • Check for scuff marks along the walls or even the bottom of the door. If there’s too much dirt and too many marks, it may mean it’s time to repaint the door or walls. If scrapes are minor, try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
  • Clean your welcome mat or get a new one.
  • Make sure the light bulbs are all working and that you clean and dust the fixture and the bulbs.
  • Check the coat closet, if applicable, and make sure the walls and floor are clean and free of marks and dents. Remember, pack away unused items so there’s extra room in there, making it look spacious.
You can't get much cleaner than this beautifully decorated kitchen. - Copyright 2010 by Dru Bloomfield
You can’t get much cleaner than this beautifully decorated kitchen. What buyer wouldn’t want to put in an offer after seeing this?. Copyright 2010 by Dru Bloomfield

2.  Kitchen

  • Buyers tend to spend lots of time in the kitchen, so really spend the time here to make sure it’s extra clean.
  • Wipe down all the cabinets. You’d be amazed how much food splatters and grease get on the doors and hardware.
  • Clean all appliances, inside and out. This includes the entire interior of the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven/stove.
  • Don’t forget to clean the stove hood, both on top and underneath. Make sure the grill is clean, the light bulb is working, and the actual unit works.
  • Pull out the refrigerator and clean behind it, including the cords. Clean underneath the refrigerator as well. Vacuum the grill underneath.
  • Clean the microwave inside and out.
  • Don’t forget to clean underneath the sink. Take out everything and wipe down the entire inside, including the pipes. Put everything back in an organized way.
  • Clean the garbage can inside and out. A good tip is to use scented garbage bags and/or put an air freshener or baking soda package in the cabinet. This will help keep it smelling fresh.
  • Wipe down counters and backsplashes.
  • Wipe down any small appliances or other items on counters, which as you learned in decluttering, should be minimal. You should only have a maximum of 3 items out, such as a coffeemaker.
  • Wipe down any blinds or shades and wash any curtains or throw rugs.
  • If drawer liners have seen better days, replace them.
  • Clean out the junk drawer and take out and clean the utensil tray and drawer.
  • Find one place, out of sight if possible, to store and keep pet food, dishes, and other supplies.

3.  Dining Room

  • Clean and wax all furniture.
  • Check seat covers for stains or dirt. Wash or use stain remover, if possible. Wash slipcovers if you have them.
  • Wash any rugs or curtains.
  • You should have already de-cluttered inside your china cabinet or buffet, but make sure you wipe down the insides and all the contents.
This Clean, Organized Dining Room is Warm and Inviting - Copyright 2010 by Steve Bennett
This dining room has not only been organized and de-cluttered, but received a thorough cleaning and is ready for showings. Copyright 2010 by Steve Bennett

4.  Living Room and Family Room

  • Wipe down the television. Clean the screen. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s guidelines for what to use, depending on the type of screen you have.
  • Vacuum and/or wash sofa, loveseat, and chair cushions. Make sure to take off the cushions and vacuum underneath them. Also, move the sofas to make sure you get any wayward items that rolled underneath or fell behind these pieces. Dust bunnies and pet fur (or feathers) always collect here.
Who Wouldn't Buy this Home After Seeing This Updated, Clean Bathroom? - Copyright 2010 by Lee Ruk
Buyers pay particular attention to kitchens and baths, so make sure yours receive a thorough cleaning. Copyright 2010 by Lee Ruk

5.  Bathrooms

  • Make sure these spaces are spotless. Wipe down all surfaces.
  • Common missed areas include behind the toilet and underneath the sink. Make sure the pipes and fittings are cleaned well. Replace any missing plastic bolt covers on toilets.
  • Wipe down counters and any other furniture.
  • Make sure the mirrors sparkle.
  • Since de-cluttering, you should only have absolute necessities on display. Make sure they are clean (such as the toothbrush holder). Although, anything you can put out of sight is better.
  • Clean out under the vanity and make sure it’s organized and that you removed stuff when de-cluttering so that it appears spacious.
  • Clean every crack and crevice on the toilet, even inside the tank. Remove any stains. You might even want to add those cleaning tablets. Buy one of those disposable toilet brushes with flushable pads to use for quick in-between clean-ups. I actually recommend using this instead of the typical toilet brush. This way, you don’t have to have that germ-filled brush on display.
  • Wash the shower curtain, any window treatments, and bath rugs.
  • Clean every crevice in the shower and tub. Scrub the grout with a cleaner and toothbrush. If it’s really grimy you might want to replace the grout.
  • Scrub the floors and clean the grout lines.
  • After de-cluttering, you should have removed personal items, but make sure any that remain are neatly stored or organized. You might want to invest in a shower caddy to keep things in one place. The same goes for kids’ toys in the tub.
  • Keep dirty clothes and towels off the floor. Clothes should be in a hamper, and towels should be on rods or hooks.
  • Remove any prescriptions to a safe location. You actually shouldn’t store medication in the bathroom anyway.
  • Clean the fan and make sure it’s functioning.
This Bedroom is All Ready for the Market -- Clean, Organized and Inviting - Copyright 2011 by N1NJ4
Buyers want bedrooms that feel like retreats away from their hectic lives. This one lives up to that expectation. Copyright 2011 by N1NJ4

6.  Bedrooms

  • Wash sheets, blankets, and comforters.
  • Wash or dry clean curtains and rugs.
  • Remove any stains on any fabrics.
  • Wipe down all furniture.
  • Clean the walls and floors of closets.
  • Keep dirty laundry off the floor or furniture. Put them in a laundry basket or bring them to the laundry room.
  • For kids rooms, keeps toys and other items corralled in one area and store them in containers.

7.  Hallways

  • Wipe down walls, baseboards and any wall art or mirrors.
  • Make sure to get cobwebs and dust our of corners and along the ceilings. Also clean ceiling vents.
  • Clean off any marks on walls. Hallways easily collect these things. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great for this.
All Rooms in a Home Need to be Staged and Basements Are No Exception - Copyright 2011 by Sean Madden
When buyers tour a home, they are looking carefully at each and every room. Make sure to stage your basement, if it’s finished, or give it a good cleaning if it’s not. Copyright 2011 by Sean Madden

8.  Attics, Basements, and Garages

  • Give each of these rooms a thorough cleaning.
  • Sweet attic floors.
  • Sweep and wash the garage floors (and basement floors, if possible) and wipe down the walls.
  • Get rid of any dust, dirt, and debris, especially from corners and along the ceiling lines.
  • Make sure to clean up any signs of bugs or rodents, such as nests or droppings.
  • Wash the windows — yes, even basement, garage and attic windows should sparkle.
  • Clean off shelves and racks.
  • Remove stains from garage floors. If walls and floor are particularly messy, they may need to be painted or repainted.
  • Clean garage doors, including the tracks, and make sure they function properly.
  • If you have to store things in either of these places, make sure they are organized well.
  • If you have no other place to store packed boxes, at least stack them in one corner only.
Cleaning the windows is important because clean windows let in lots of natural light. - Copyright 2012 by Kristen DiNobile
Clear windows let in lots of natural light, which buyers are looking for, and also allow buyers to see attractive outdoor views. Copyright 2012 by Kristen DiNobile

9.  General Tips For All Rooms

  • Clean plant pots and make sure the plants are in good health.
  • Wipe down baseboards, moldings, and trim.
  • Clean baseboard heating units. If they are in really bad shape, it might be best to paint them. Make sure to use the appropriate type for heating vents.
  • Clean windows inside and out. Dirty windows don’t let as much natural light into your home.
    Quick tip: wipe horizontally on the inside and vertically on the outside (or vice versa) so if there are streaks, you know which side they are on.
  • Clean all light fixtures and check to make sure all bulbs are working. Don’t forget to dust off the bulbs as well.
  • Don’t forget to clean ceiling fans. They are notorious dust collectors.
  • Clean all hard surfaced floors. Wax wood floors.
  • Steam clean the carpet. You can either rent a steamer at a home improvement store, or if you need a deep cleaning, it might be best to hire a professional. If the carpet is that bad, you might want to replace it.
  • Spot clean, wash, or dry clean rugs, depending on size, type, and manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Wash or dry clean curtains and draperies. Dust and wipe down any blinds.
  • Make sure all hardware on cabinets, dressers and doors sparkles.
  • In addition to washing the window glass, make sure to clean all the edges, channels, along the tops of double-hung windows, or the sides of sliding windows. Pay attention to corners, where dust often collects, as well as the window tracks.
  • Clean and wipe down all walls. Make sure to dust in the corners of ceilings and floors, as well as where the walls meet the ceiling and floors.
  • Clean all TV and computer screens by following manufacturer’s directions.
  • Clean the frames and glass of all pictures and other wall art.
  • Don’t forget to wipe down cords and wires for electronics such as TVs, DVDs, computers and more.
    If they are messy, consider bundling them using one of the many options available in the marketplace.
  • Make sure pet cages, beds, toy containers, etc are neat, organized and placed out of site, if possible.
  • Contain kids’ toys in one room and put them in decorative boxes, containers, or even storage ottomans.
  • Empty garbage cans before any showings.
  • Keep a box of cleaning wipes in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Wipe all mirrors — in bathrooms, as well as those hanging throughout the home. Also clean glass covers of picture frames.
  • Tip: White distilled vinegar and baking soda are your best friends for so many different cleaning tasks.

Overall, you want everything to shine and sparkle. Not only do buyers not like seeing other peoples’ dirt, but a clean house also tells them that you take good care of the house. Just assume that buyers might and will look anywhere and everywhere, so make sure you get every crevice and corner.

¿Qué es Foreclosure?

¿Qué es Foreclosure?

Foreclosure no es más que la anulación, en su contra, de una hipoteca. Cuando usted compró su casa, seguramente adquirió un préstamo y el prestamista, a su vez, aseguró sus intereses en la propiedad. En caso de que usted no pueda pagar su hipoteca, esto le dará al prestamista todo el derecho de tomar acción sobre su propiedad y quedarse con las ganancias que se obtengan de ella para cubrir su inversión.

Si está afrontando la posibilidad de perder su hipoteca por medio de foreclosure, ya sabe el pánico que se siente. Sin embargo no debe perder la calma. Antes que nada pregúntese usted mismo:

  • ¿No puede hacer sus pagos de hipoteca por una situación financiera temporaria?O es que…
  • ¿Se le hace difícil hacer sus pagos aún en situaciones financieras normales?

Si esta situación es temporaria, hay varias opciones para arreglar este problema, pero si usted sabe que su situación no tiene remedio y está a punto de perder su casa, quizá el remedio sería afrontar la situación sabiendo que sería mejor para su estado emocional entregar su casa. Esto no quiere decir que usted debe resignarse con los brazos cruzados.


¿Cuáles Son Sus Opciones?

Pedir un préstamo personal

En realidad, quizá a su alrededor haya alguien que esté dispuesto a ayudarle. Explique su situación a sus amigos muy cercanos y familiares y hágales saber que su situación es temporaria. Sea siempre honesto al decirles cuanto tiempo le tomaría pagar esta deuda.

Pedir un préstamo a su Asegurador de Hipoteca Privado, (PMI)

En cuanto a un préstamo del PMI, es una buena opción si su hipoteca incluye esta aseguranza. PMI protege al prestamista, o sea, que si el banco tiene que llevar su propiedad a foreclosure o anulación de hipoteca, esta aseguranza de hipoteca privada, cubre la pérdida. Por eso para ellos lo mejor es ayudarle a que no se pierda la hipoteca y estarían dispuestos a hacerle un préstamo.

Refinanciar su préstamo actual

Muchas son la razones por las que usted puede refinanciar su préstamo. Póngase en contacto con su prestamista y pregunte si es posible, así reduce su pago y los intereses. Quizá esta sea una buena solución si lo que necesita es bajar los pagos mensuales. Busque la mejor opción de interés y quizá este trabajo se lo pueda hacer un experto en préstamos.

Vender la Casa

Finalmente, otra opción puede ser la de vender su casa. Un buen agente de bienes raíces le puede orientar y ayudar a que su venta sea lo más pronto posible y que cubra la deuda de hipoteca y cualquier otro gasto. Si el precio de la casa no llega a cubrir la hipoteca y los demás gastos, pregunte al prestamista si aceptan una venta de “short sale”, esto quiere decir que la venta de la casa es por un precio por menos de lo que debe en su hipoteca. En este caso, el prestamista llega a un acuerdo y perdona la diferencia, pero no debe olvidar que tendrá que pagar impuestos sobre esta diferencia al gobierno ya que será contada como ganancia.


How Homeowners Insurance Works?

By Marcy Tolkoff | December 20, 2007

Do your eyes glaze over just reading the word? It may not be the most thrilling subject, but it’s essential for new homebuyers to understand the nuts and bolts of their homeowners insurance. Virtually all mortgage lenders require insurance coverage to protect their investment. If the house you live in is destroyed, the real owners – and in most cases, that’s the bank – would suffer a huge monetary loss.

Tutorial: Introduction To Insurance

You don’t even have to “own” your home to need homeowners insurance; many landlords require their tenants to have coverage. But whether it’s required or not, it’s smart to have this kind of protection anyway. We’ll take it step by step as we walk you through the basics of this type of policy.

What a Homeowners’ Policy Provides
The elements of a standard homeowners’ insurance policy provide that the insurer will cover costs related to:

  • Damage to the interior or exterior of your house In the event of damage due to fire, hurricanes, lightning, vandalism or other covered disasters, your insurer will compensate you so that your house can be repaired or even completely rebuilt. Damage that is the result of floods, earthquakes and poor home maintenance is generally not covered and you may require separate riders if want that type of protection.
  • Loss or damage to your personal belongings Clothing, furniture, appliances and most of the other contents of your home are covered if they’re destroyed in an insured disaster. You can even get “off-premises” coverage, so you could file a claim for lost jewelry, for example – no matter where in the world you lost it. There may be a limit on the amount your insurer will reimburse you. Even if your Rolex or mink coat is damaged at home, there will be a limit on the coverage for that, too – unless you purchase a separate “floater” policy that insures the item for its full appraised value.According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance companies will provide coverage for 50-70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If your house is insured for $200,000, there would be up to about $140,000 worth of coverage for your possessions – would this be enough for you? In order to answer this question, you would need to have a list of all your possessions and their value, also called a “home inventory”.
  • Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you or your familyThis clause even includes your pets! So, if frisky Fido bites your neighbor Doris, no matter where the bite happens to occur, your insurer will pay her medical bills. Or, if Junior breaks her Oriental vase, you can file a claim to reimburse her. And if Doris slips on the broken vase pieces and successfully sues for pain and suffering or lost wages? You’ll be covered for that, too, just as if someone had been injured on the premises of your home or property. While policies start in the range of $100,000 coverage, experts recommend having at least $300,000 worth of coverage according to the Insurance Information Institute. For extra protection, a few hundred dollars more in premium may buy you an extra $1 million or more through “umbrella coverage”.
  • Hotel or house rental while your home is being rebuilt or repaired It’s unlikely you’ll ever need this protection, but if you do find yourself in this situation, it will undoubtedly be the best coverage you ever purchased. If your house has been completely destroyed or is so damaged that it’s uninhabitable, you may need to rent another house or live in a hotel until it’s repaired or rebuilt. This portion of homeowners’ coverage would reimburse you for the cost of rent, hotel, restaurant meals and other incidental costs because you were unable to live in your house. Before you book a suite at the Ritz-Carlton and order caviar from room service, however, keep in mind that policies impose strict daily and total limits – but, of course, you can expand those daily limits if you’re willing to pay more in coverage.

Different Types of Coverage
All insurance is definitely not created equal. The least costly homeowners insurance will likely give you the least amount of coverage, and vice versa.

There are essentially three levels of coverage:

  • Actual cash value This value covers the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them).
  • Replacement cost This is the actual cash value without the deduction for depreciation, so you would be able to repair or rebuild your home up to the original value.
  • Guaranteed (or extended) replacement cost The most comprehensive, this inflation-buffer pays for whatever it costs to repair or build your home – even if it’s more than your policy limit! Certain insurers offer extended replacement, meaning it offers more coverage than you purchased, but there is a ceiling; typically, it is 20-25% higher than the limit.

How Much Does It Cost?
The average yearly premium cost for U.S. homeowners insurance in 2008 (as of 2010, the latest year for which data is available) was $791, according the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but premiums vary widely and depend on multiple factors. First, of course, price will be determined by how much coverage you buy, a decision you can only make after evaluating the market value of your house, completing a household inventory, and deciding how much liability protection you want.

Other variables that need to be considered include your zip code. If you live in a high-crime area, for example, insurance premiums will be higher. Companies also take into account the size of your house, how close it is to a fire hydrant, the condition of your plumbing, heating and electrical systems, how many claims were filed against the home you’re seeking to insure, and even details like your credit score that reflect on how responsible a consumer – and, therefore, a homeowner – you are.

No matter what initial price you’re quoted, you’ll want to do a little comparison shopping. And don’t forget there are many other ways to slash costs, such as raising deductible levels, buying multiple policies from the same insurer, getting all available discounts (for security devices, such as burglar alarms, for example), checking for group coverage options through credit or trade unions, employers, or association memberships, and boosting your credit score.

Selecting an Insurance Company
Price is important, but it is not the only or even the most important factor. When it comes to insurance, you want to make sure you are going with a provider that is legitimate and creditworthy. Before you sign on the dotted line, first contact your state’s insurance department to make sure the company is licensed, as all insurers are required to be. Second, check its financial strength by going to websites of the top credit agencies (ex. A.M.Best, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s) and searching their financials. Finally, consider asking relatives, friends and coworkers for referrals. It always makes sense to benefit from the experiences of others, so ask someone you know who has filed a claim about an insurer’s customer service representatives, the speed with which a claim was appraised, processed and paid, in addition to your friend’s general level of satisfaction with the insurer.

As with all insurance policies, they are under-appreciated until they are needed, and then they quickly become a godsend. Getting yourself set up with a comprehensive homeowners policy can go a long way toward making your home truly a place of comfort and security.


Philosophers Stone closes in Elizabeth

Philosophers Stone closes in Elizabeth

The Philosophers Stone Tavern in the Elizabeth neighborhood has closed. A note taped to the restaurant’s door at 1958 E. Seventh St. shared the news with customers.

Owners Chris and Josh Settle couldn’t be reached for comment. The brothers opened the Philosophers Stone in 2005. The restaurant, tavern and live-music venue built a loyal following over the years. The closing comes just days after the CBJ reported Faison Enterprises is exploring the development of that 1.5-acre site at the corner of East Seventh Street and Caswell Road. The site could become the home of 160-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail space.

Jennifer Thomas

How to Pet-Proof Your Home

A pet makes a wonderful addition to any household. Cats and dogs mean furry snuggles and tons of comic relief; they can also teach us all a few things about unconditional love. Unfortunately, they also bring with them some less desirable traits: sloppy table manners, a propensity to break things, and truckloads of animal hair.

It’s true, pets can be messy. In fact, your beloved animals can actually ding the value of your property if you’re trying to sell by adding scratches to your doors and floors, funky, semipermanent smells, and other flaws that prospective buyers might just catch. However, there are precautions you can take to pet-proof your home so that their negative impact is greatly reduced.


Follow these tips to do dog-and-cat damage control.

Create a separate eating area for them

When Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Woolwich, NJ, remodeled her kitchen, she took the opportunity to turn a room in her basement into a kitchen that caters specifically to her nine dogs and four cats. The vet took her old cabinets, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and even a Keurig machine downstairs to create an eating space just for the animals.

“They eat down there so they won’t scratch the new kitchen cabinets when they are excited and jumping up to see their food being prepared,” says Morgan. “We keep their food in the downstairs refrigerator and warm it in their own microwave. The Keurig is for making hot water to rehydrate or warm meals.”


Get smart about flooring

Not everyone has room to create a second kitchen for their cats and dogs, so Morgan also recommends bamboo flooring in common areas.

“Bamboo is much harder than most woods so it doesn’t scratch easily,” she says. “It also has no grooves between boards like other hardwood floors. Grooves are a real pain when there is a urine or poo accident.”

Tile is another good option, says Morgan, who used that material in her sunroom because it’s easy to clean. She also recommends recycled tire rubber flooring as a great basement floor covering for people with kids and pets.

“Phenomenal product, comes in large rolls, used in a lot of gyms,” Morgan says of rubber flooring. “Comes in an amazing array of colors and thicknesses.”

As you might have guessed, carpet is not a terrific choice. “We have no carpet, other than on the stairs,” notes Morgan. “Carpet holds hair and odors and is an allergy disaster for people with allergies.”

Decorate your windows wisely

Pet owners should also pay special attention to windows in their home.

“Curtains, for their own sake, should not drag the ground”, says Michelle Newfield, a veterinarian in Slidell, LA. “Exploring kittens love to climb them.”

Newfield suggests thick blinds for window coverings (think wood or even faux wood, material meant to stand the test of claws). “And be sure to secure the cords out of reach,” Newfield says.


Set up some barriers

If you have a beloved vase or rug that you fear could be ruined by your pet, the answer may be as simple as setting up a barrier to keep curious creatures out.

“Most animals explore their environment with their noses and mouths,” explains Patrick Mahaney, a vet based out of Los Angeles. “It’s common for indoor and outdoor items to be sniffed, licked, or chewed upon, so it’s crucial to use physical barriers. Baby gates, doors, screens, and other barriers can do the trick.”

Or, if it’s all but impossible to keep your pets off your gorgeous new couch, try a different type of barrier by covering it in a large throw blanket. That way, they can lounge and shed with abandon; then, when company comes, you can lift it off and see a clean couch!


Keep pet paraphernalia out of sight

There’s nothing like a gnawed-on ham bone in the center of your living room floor to ruin the ambiance. So get a cute basket in which you can stash pet toys and set it off to the side and out of sight. You can also give pets a place to call their own that doesn’t detract from your design. Place a cozy crate or dog bed in a kitchen nook, under a table, or in a corner. We’re not saying pets should neither be seen nor heard, but, well, sometimes that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

By, Brittney Gilbert

Inspections & Disclosures

There’s no place like home.

A home inspection will help to inform you about the current condition of the property. An objective inspection provides a buyer with a clearer understanding of the home’s condition and true value. It may also give sellers a checklist of things important to buyers to fix before the sale.

Whether buying or selling, a Tierra Bella Home Services agent can help you through the home inspection process. Our agents routinely recommend inspections for properties of all types – from older properties to newly built homes.

Expect our agents to …

  • Refer you to reliable inspectors to perform a thorough examination of the property.
  • Share and analyze all inspection reports with you.
  • Advise you regarding the need for an “inspection contingency clause” in your contract, which may help you negotiate needed repairs before a sale is finalized.

Remember, a home inspection is a crucial step toward finalizing your real estate transaction and full comprehension of inspection results is essential. A Tierra Bella  Home Services agent will close the gap between a home’s unknowns and it’s proper repairs, speeding you on your way to your purchase or sale.

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