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.

50 Things Charlotte


Seeing all the new apartment complexes being built and the mass amounts of people relocating to Charlotte every year, it’s no wonder that Forbes named Charlotte one of the fastest growing cities in U.S in 2016. For those who are relocating and don’t know much about the Queen City, we have compiled an ongoing list of things to do in Charlotte, NC that will satisfy everyone’s preferences- whether it’s art museums, science exhibits, nightlife, nature, family-fun activities or adrenaline-pumping adventures- the options are endless!

This is part of a five-part series on Charlotte Sights – check back next month for the next installment!

Explore the Charlotte Art Scene at the Uptown Mint Museum

The Mint Museum is a 145,000-square-foot facility dedicated to American and European art located right in the center of Uptown. Part of the Levine Center for the Arts, the Mint Museum features innovative exhibits that will keep visitors captivated for hours by providing an experience you can’t get anywhere else! As an added bonus, the Mint Museum has partnered with Bank of America, and grants any Bank of America cardholder free admission the first full weekend of every month!


Find a New Favorite Band at AvidXchange Music Factory

The AvidXchange Music Factory (formerly NC Music Factory) is the place to go if the music scene is where you want to be! The Fillmore, styled after the traditional San Franciscan Fillmore, brings in artists of all types that will appease any music lover. Its vintage feel gives an authentic experience to artists and fans alike. For an outdoor music experience, fans can go to the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre at the AvidXchange Music Factory where they can see a show and get amazing views of the Charlotte skyline.


Celebrate a Panthers’ Win at Bank of America Stadium

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Go cheer on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium every Sunday during the season- everyone else will be! Located in the heart of the city, this stadium holds 75,000 fans and is one of Charlotte’s signature buildings in the uptown skyline. Don’t move to Charlotte unless you’re ready to eat, sleep and breathe Panthers every Sunday in the fall!


Become a Scientist at the Discovery Place

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The Discovery Place is a science center dedicated to kids that makes learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics a fun and interactive experience. The The Charlotte Observer IMAX® Dome Theatre will appeal to family members of all ages as you experience some of the universe’s most magnificent phenomenons on the largest screen in the Carolinas. Once a month, the Discovery Place dedicates a night for adults to enjoy science by hosting Science on the Rocks- a fun, interactive, themed event that includes adult beverages and games.


Be a Daredevil at Carowinds

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If you’re an adrenaline junkie or prefer more passive entertainment, Carowinds is the perfect place in Charlotte to visit. Whether you attend one of the many events Carowinds puts on during the year or just go on a regular day, you are sure to have a blast. From a water park, to a children’s section, to the tallest and fastest giga-coaster in the world- there is something for everyone here.


Stop and Smell the Flowers at UNCC Botanical Gardens

For the most picturesque stroll in Charlotte, stop by the Botanical Gardens at UNC Charlotte where you will see more varieties of plants than in any other garden in the Charlotte area. Functioning for over 40 years, the Botanical Gardens has evolved into something much more than just a standard garden- it boasts over 10 acres of outdoor space, 4500 square feet of glasshouse and many areas for learning. Stop by for a walk through the gardens or plan a visit when they are hosting a learning event!


Get Behind the Wheel at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

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The NASCAR Hall of Fame, located right in Uptown, will stimulate all your senses and keep you entertained all day! Glory Road 2.0 is the major focal point and tells the story of NASCAR by displaying 18 different cars that have impacted the sport the most through its history. You can also honor the NASCAR legends that are featured in the unforgettable tributes. After an afternoon of learning the history of the sport, try it out yourself with the realistic racing simulators and pit crew experience. If you’re moving to Charlotte, it’s time to introduce yourself to the sport we all know and love.


Explore Life on the Water at Lake Wylie

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Lake Wylie is one of the main highlights of Charlotte during the warm months of the year. This man-made lake does more than just offer water activities- with restaurants, parks, campgrounds and neighborhoods surrounding the lake, you’ll be sure to have a good time! The lake itself offers zipline adventures, sailboat races, tubing and farmers markets. Explore everything Lake Wylie has to offer.


Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Freedom Park

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Freedom Park is a great family-friendly place to spend time outdoors. With everything from playgrounds, to live bands, to running trails, to a 7-acre lake, this 98-acre park has a little bit of something for everyone. For the athlete in the family, spend time bouncing around between the tennis courts, soccer fields, basketball courts and volleyball courts. You can refuel at the concession stands, or bring your own food and grill out with your family and friends at one of the five grill stations. If the weather is nice, you’re sure to find a good time out at Freedom Park.


Watch America’s Favorite Pastime at BB&T Ballpark

Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, cheering on the Charlotte Knights is always a good time! BB&T Ballpark is located right in the center of Charlotte and is one of the main attractions during the summertime for Charlotteans. Observe America’s favorite pastime while enjoying food and drinks from local Charlotte restaurants and breweries, and, if it’s a Friday night, you can enjoy the fireworks with friends and family when the game is over!

Let Your Kids Discover at ImaginOn

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ImaginOn is a 102,000-square-foot facility dedicated to getting children involved in education, the arts, culture and multimedia. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte came to together to create this resource for children that includes two state-of-the-art theatres, a dedicated library space for kids 11 and under, four multi-use classrooms, a teen-only library, a multimedia production studio and interactive exhibit space in order to create this cultural hub for children of all ages.


Find an Affinity for the Arts at the South End Gallery Crawl

Come to South End the first Friday of every month in order to experience the South End Gallery Crawl. South End is home to the largest amount of art galleries in the city, and once a month Camden Road comes alive during the evening with live music and refreshments at the different galleries. This monthly event is the perfect way for the art novice to come and experience Charlotte’s art scene.


Celebrate Your Love for Fried Pickles at Pinky’s Westside Grill

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Pinky’s Westside Grill is a Charlotte staple and one of the best dive restaurants you will ever experience. Featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Pinky’s is loved by all, and its inexpensive price point is only an added bonus. Known for their unique burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and fried pickles, Pinky’s must be experienced by every Charlottean at least once.


Put on Your Cowboy Boots at Coyote Joe’s

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Coyote Joe’s is the epicenter of country in Charlotte. This country western bar is native to Charlotte and is the perfect destination for those who live in their cowboy boots or someone who just wants that country experience for a night. Complete with a stage, dance floor, two bars and a mechanical bull, this establishment has plenty to keep all patrons entertained. Only open three nights a week, you must find time to stop whether it’s for a concert, line dancing lessons or just a drink. Pro tip: bring cash, as they do not accept any cards.


Cheer on the Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena

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Every basketball season, Charlotte lights up purple and teal and becomes Buzz City to celebrate the city’s NBA team. Owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, the Hornets are a force to be reckoned with. The team has a state-of-the-art facility right in the heart of the city that seats over 19,000 for every game and offers amenities like a fan zone that is open for indoor tailgating, as well as socializing areas for during the game. Everyone should make it a priority to cheer on the Hornets at least once a season.


Reach New Heights at Inner Peaks

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Inner Peaks is the largest full-service indoor rock climbing gym in the Charlotte area. It is the perfect place for rock climbing enthusiasts or those just looking to have a fun night out. This climbing gym features 13,000 square feet of climbing walls that reach up to 25 feet high, climbing terrain for all levels and ages, 40 top rope stations, maintained routes that are changed weekly and teaching areas to sharpen skills. Inner Peaks is the perfect spot to get in a great workout while also having an amazing time!


Scavenge Your Way Through Charlotte with Big City Hunt

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A self-guided scavenger hunt through Charlotte is the ultimate way to explore and learn about the city you live in. With Big City Hunt, you race against the clock to solve 15 clues that take you around the city. The best part about Big City Hunt is there is no specified time and place you need to be, you simply purchase a launch code and begin your scavenger hunt whenever you and your team are ready!


Relax and Unwind at Treehouse Vineyards

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Treehouse Vineyards is a family-owned vineyard and winery located just outside of Charlotte in Monroe, North Carolina. It opened to the public in 2010 and produces hand-crafted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Dry White Blend, and several award-winning native Muscadine wines. As its name insinuates, Treehouse Vineyards has several treehouses available for rent that suit different needs from overnight stays to simply pre-dinner drinks. It is the perfect place to unwind and relax away from the chaos of the city.


Roll on the Floor Laughing at the Comedy Zone

The Comedy Zone in Charlotte is located in the Avid Xchange Music Factory and is the perfect place to get a good laugh in. The Comedy Zone has a show seven nights a week and every single one is better than the last- you can’t go wrong with your show selection. Not only will you enjoy a great show during your visit to the Comedy Zone, but the food and drink menu will not disappoint either.


Strike Out at 10 Park Lanes

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10 Park Lanes is fun for all ages- it is a bowling alley with an arcade, outdoor live music, bocce ball, corn hole, ping pong tables, and a gourmet menu with 32 craft beers on tap. This one establishment is able to combine a club, bar, restaurant, bowling alley and family hang out in one location. Whether you go during the day for some afternoon fun or at midnight for a great night out, 10 Park Lanes is fun for all!


Find Running (and Drinking) Companions at a Brewery Run Club

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One thing Charlotte has gotten down pat is their combination of fitness and beer – most of the breweries around town have running clubs or fitness classes that are then followed by mingling with a pint of beer. These clubs not only give you an incentive to stay active, but they are also a really great way to meet people. Different breweries hold their running clubs on different days of the week and at different times so that almost anybody can find time to go. NoDa Brewing, Sycamore, Triple C, Peculiar Rabbit, Heist Brewery and Brazwell’s are just some of the different locations that host running clubs. Get in contact with them for specific days and times and sign up!


Find the Perfect Apple at Windy Hill Orchard

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Located just outside Charlotte in York, South Carolina is Windy Hill Orchard. This family-owned orchard is the perfect way to welcome the cooler seasons – they offer apple picking, hot apple cider donuts, homemade apple cider and hard cider. Windy Hill is only open during the fall so be sure to make time for it while you can. Whether you decide to make it a family outing or fun day with friends, apple picking with a nice apple cider (hard or regular) is fun for everyone!


Mix Up Your Meal at 7th Street Public Market

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The New York Times named 7th Street Public Market as one of the top things to do in Charlotte, and it’s no wonder why. This urban food destination is the perfect place to take anyone because it has plenty of local vendors to choose from, all of which are amazing. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, to cheese, to coffee and pastries, to crepes, to pizza and even ice cream- you can create the meal of your dreams. After you are completely stuffed from all the great eats, you can then shop from the different local sellers at the booths in the back. 7th Street Public Market is a one-stop foodie haven that everyone must experience at least once.


Bend it Like Beckham with the Charlotte Independence

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The Charlotte Independence is relatively new to the United Soccer League, having joined in 2014 and began playing in the spring of 2015, but it has already become a large piece of the Charlotte sports world. Games are held at Ramblewood Stadium, which is a luxurious, natural grass facility that holds up to 4,700 fans. Going to multiple games and watching the fan base of this team grow is only one of the benefits of watching the Independence play. There are a variety of tickets with plenty of affordable options, which makes it easy for anyone to attend!


Lend a Helping Hand with Hands On Charlotte

Hands On Charlotte is a great way to get involved and help out the Charlotte community. They are a nonprofit volunteer service that strives to improve the city and help those in need. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to the type of community work they want to lend their time to, which is why Hands On Charlotte is so great. They offer a variety of opportunities that range from helping homeless families, guiding at-risk youth, tutoring, feeding the hungry, environmental help and much more. Volunteering with Hands On Charlotte is not only a great way to help others, but it is also a good way to meet other Charlotteans!


Get Up Close and Personal with the Wild at Darby Acres Farms

Darby Acres Farms is a family-owned and operated petting zoo that operates by appointment only. The owners make the animals their top priority and treat them as part of the family. All animals are USDA certified, which ensures that they are all healthy, vaccinated and their quarters are clean and safe. Darby Acres Farms offers different services including a traveling petting zoo and pony rides, which is great for any party. They also host horseback riding, summer camps and safari tours at their location. The safari tour has different ticket levels available for purchase, all at great prices. On the tour you will be able to handle a variety of animals ranging from sugar gliders to skunks, armadillos to kinkajous and so much more. This is a destination for people of all ages that will be fun for all!


Pedal Around the City with a Drink with Trolley Pub

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Trolley Pub is a pedal-powered, pub-crawling trolley that can hold up to 14 people at one time! Explore the NoDa neighborhood with your friends on a private pubcrawl or do a Mixer Tour that allows you to fill part of the trolley with friends and Trolley Pub will fill the rest with another group. The private pubcrawl allows you to pick your stops and final destination while the Mixer Tour has a pre-selected three-stop journey. The Trolley Pub allows you to bring your own booze and snacks so you can have a night of fun fully tailored to your taste!


Cheer on the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles Coliseum

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The Charlotte Checkers have been a staple in Charlotte for a long time, having first moved here in 1956 for 20 years and then returning to Charlotte again in 1992, which is why going to watch a game at Bojangles Coliseum is a must for everyone who lives here! The Checkers are not only a large part of the Charlotte community because of how long they’ve been here, but also because they are committed to helping the community by donating a total of $3.7 million since 2006 and have also been the winner of the American Hockey League’s Award of Excellence for Community Service three out of the last six seasons. This is an organization that is not only worth the support, but is a lot of fun while doing it – go cheer on the Checkers this year!


Socialize With Your Four-Legged Friend at Lucky Dog Bark and Brew

Lucky Dog Bark and Brew is located in both Charlotte and Lake Norman and is the perfect place to treat yourself and your loyal furry companion. This is more than just a bar that allows dogs, this is a full-service dog grooming and boarding facility that also comes equipped with a fully-stocked sports bar, complete with 15 TVs! At Lucky Dog, there is plenty of indoor and outdoor space for you to socialize with your friends and for your canine to socialize with others (people or dogs). It’s a great spot for dog owners and dog lovers alike!


Reach Top Speed with the Richard Petty Driving Experience

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The Richard Petty Driving Experience is something all the adrenaline junkies must try at least once! Drive around the 1.5 mile racetrack at speeds of up to 160 MPH! There are multiple packages to choose from depending on your passion, budget and time allowance, which makes it available to pretty much anyone! If you like to get your heart racing and you’re in the Charlotte area, you must give the Richard Petty Driving Experience a try!


Laugh and Learn with Funny Bus

Whether you’re from out of town, are a recent transplant, or have lived in Charlotte for years, Funny Bus is the most entertaining way to tour and learn about the history, architecture and sights of the city. This 90-minute tour is more than just informational and informative, it is funny- attendees can expect similar humor to what you may find in a comedy club. And while the tour does have an R-rating and may not be suited for children, they will be offering a PG version this winter so that the whole family can enjoy.


Get in Shape at STAX Bootcamp

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Every Monday and Wednesday, STAX Crossfit offers a free outdoor bootcamp that anyone can attend. While the price (or lack thereof) is a huge draw, the coolest part about this bootcamp is the team of instructors- Randy Moss and Emily “Breeze” Ross-Watson. For those who don’t know, Moss is one of the greatest NFL wide receivers of all time and Ross-Watson is a crossfit sensation whose videos have gone viral numerous times. These two have joined forces to help Charlotteans lose weight, tone-up, improve energy, build strength and increase endurance.


Find the Perfect Gift at NoDa Eclectic Marketplace

A perfect Saturday activity if you’re in the NoDa area is the NoDa Eclectic Marketplace– this is a pop-up shop that only opens on Saturdays, but truly embodies the “Art & Community first” mindset of NoDa as it features artists, farmers, craftsmen, artisans, collectors, and performers. The NoDa Eclectic Marketplace is a great spot to find unique gifts for loved ones or yourself! It has plenty of handmade, local and unique goods to choose from!


Get the Perfect Dip at Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream

You can’t really consider yourself a Charlottean until you’ve experienced one of Charlotte’s landmark restaurants- Mr. K’s. Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream opened its doors in 1967 in the same location it is now. For almost 50 years, they have served some of the best dip cones, milkshakes, hotdogs and hamburgers in the area- and you can’t beat the price either. Everyone should make it a point to stop by and treat themselves to the best ice cream cone in the city.


Build Your Wishlist at Atherton Mill

Atherton Mill has quickly become the go-to destination for trendy shopping in South End. This shopping center not only has an awesome selection of stores, but it also has the interesting design and architecture that most stripmalls lack. With the recent additions of O-Ku Sushi, Anthropologie and Free People, and the future coming attractions of Warby Parker and Alton Lane, Atherton Mill is providing attractive retail space around the uptown area.


Challenge Your Mind at Codescape

Escape rooms are spreading like wildfire and becoming increasingly more popular because it truly a fun time for all. Codescape sets itself apart from the competition in Charlotte by combining both physical and mental puzzles that have been designed by those who helped create ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ and ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ at Universal Orlando. The best part about Codescape is that they offer different themed rooms so anyone can have a good time!


Meet Your Produce Supplier at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market

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Shop local and buy your produce at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market– it is open most days of the week year round. It is not only the perfect place to buy all your produce, but you can also find vendors selling anything from high-quality meats to delicious cheese to scrumptious baked goods, jams and jellies to unique handmade crafts and even beautiful fresh cut flowers and plants. One of the best parts of the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market is that it gives you a chance to meet the person whose hard work went into their goods, creating a sense of community.


Race on Wheels with the Charlotte Roller Girls

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Charlotte Roller Girls, Inc. (CLTRG) is a skater-owned and operated sports organization that started in 2006. They practice flat-track roller derby, a truly entertaining spectator sport. Not only will you be entertained by simply watching the girls battle it out to victory, but the roller girls make sure to incorporate crowd participation with fun games and competitions! The Charlotte Roller Girls definitely make for a fun night out with friends and family.


Become a Master in the Kitchen at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen

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Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen is the perfect way to learn to cook or, if you already have a good base knowledge, fine tune your skills. The mission behind Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen is to teach healthy and sustainable cooking for others to enjoy. There are class options for every level of chef out there and each class has a different theme which ensures there is a class for anybody. This is the perfect experience to bring a friend or significant other, or go solo and meet others in your city!


Put a New Spin on Your Traditional Dessert at Ninety’s Ice Cream & Sandwiches

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Ninety’s Ice Cream & Sandwiches is the perfect one-stop shop for any and all cravings. You can start with a delicious sandwich and then top it off with dessert, or you can just jump straight to the sweets. They have recently become notorious around Charlotte for their macaron ice cream sandwiches and their decadent cereal-inspired milkshakes. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong, and the best part is- Ninety’s will not drain your wallet!


Broaden Your Horizons at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

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If you’d like to spend more time enjoying the arts, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is the perfect place to start. Blumenthal provides Carolinians with fine arts of all kinds from opera, to ballet, to symphony and Broadway plays; the wide variety of performances make it easy for anyone to find a performance they want to see. You’ll enjoy the sentiment of Broadway without having to make a trip to New York City.


Catch the Latest Blockbuster and a Good Meal at Studio Movie Grill

If you’re in Uptown and looking for the perfect way to spend your evening, you should definitely check out Studio Movie Grill. The concept behind Studio Movie Grill is combining the “dinner and a movie” idea into one establishment. Get to your seat 20 minutes before your movie showtime to place your food and drink order and it will be delivered to your seat as you enjoy the film. As an added bonus, Studio Movie Grill does $5 Tuesdays where movie tickets are only $5 – a great bargain!


Rock Out at the Evening Muse

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The Evening Muse has been a Charlotte staple for over 15 years– located in the heart of the Arts District in NoDa, this place is the perfect spot to catch some local, regional and even national talent. No matter your music preference, the Evening Muse has played it- from hip-hop, to jazz, to pop and reggae. Go and enjoy some music while drinking wine and beer!


Release Your Inner Gamer at Abari Game Bar

When Abari Game Bar opened its doors in 2016, it was a relatively new concept to the Charlotte scene: a bar and arcade. It is the perfect location to go and let loose like an adult while also embracing your inner child, as they have a great selection of alcoholic beverages as well as a fantastic selection of new and vintage arcade, console and pinball games. Be sure to check out Abari if you’re looking for a different vibe for your night out!


Get Your Caffeine Fix at Not Just Coffee

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For those who love coffee in its most basic form, Not Just Coffee is the best place to get your caffeinated pick-me-up. They utilize the pour-over technique when brewing coffee because “the coffee it makes is so clean, so round and fruity, that you can fully taste all those complex layers of flavor.” At Not Just Coffee, they use local resources from local suppliers and get their beans directly from farmers. With convenient locations around Charlotte, it’s easy to get coffee no matter where you are!


Sing Your Heart Out at Jeff’s Bucket Shop

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Everyone has an inner Mariah or Whitney just waiting to be unleashed- Jeff’s Bucket Shop is the perfect place to let it happen! Whether you are a natural star or need a little liquid courage, karaoke at Jeff’s will be the highlight of your weekend. With great nightly drink specials and a dive-bar feel, Jeff’s Bucket Shop is a local favorite and must be experienced at least once.


Experience Sno on a Summer Day at Pelican’s Snoballs

The high temperatures and humidity during the summer months in Charlotte can be hard to bear, but a cold treat from Pelican’s Snoballs can be just the thing you need to help get you through the heat. These family-owned stands serve snoballs, which are fluffier than Shaved Ice and more flavorful than Snowballs. With over 100 flavors and only about 150 calories per snoball, you’ll want to keep coming back for more!


Lax It Up With the Charlotte Hounds

The Hounds are Charlotte’s very own Major League Lacrosse team. Founded in 2012, this team is relatively new to Charlotte’s professional sport team roster, but it has quickly grown in popularity. If you go to a game at American Legion Memorial Stadium, you not only get the enjoyment of seeing a lacrosse game, but the views of the Uptown skyline are incredible. Charlotteans love to go catch a game during the season, and the variety of ticket options available make it a fun and affordable summer activity!


Savor High-End Cigars at Charlotte Cigar Club

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Everyone likes to kick back in different ways- if your idea of relaxation includes a nice cigar, the Charlotte Cigar Club is definitely the place for you! Located just outside of Uptown, this establishment has friendly and informative staff that will help select the perfect cigar for you, and their selection of cigars is top notch! Take a load off after work or on a weekend at the Charlotte Cigar Club.


Find a Superhero at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

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As one of the largest and most well-known comic retailers in the country, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find is Charlotte’s top destination for comics. Located in Elizabeth, this store has every kind of comic you could want, from new comics to back issues, graphic novels to Silver and Golden Age comics, and even manga- if you want a specific comic, chances are Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find has it!


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

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.


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

Luxury Bathroom Trends

At оnе timе, heated tоwеl rасkѕ wеrе the hеight оf luxury. However, today’s high-еnd bathroom manufacturers оffеr a widе rаngе оf fаr mоrе luxuriоuѕ еquiрmеnt. If уоu’rе doing a luxury bаthrооm rеmоdеling project, соnѕidеr some оf thеѕе features:

1) Lооk beyond thе рlаin оld ceramic or асrуliс sink. High-end ѕinkѕ аrе mаdе of copper, brоnzе, stone, саrvеd mаrblе, glass, cloisonné, Vеnеtiаn glаѕѕ mоѕаiс оr hаnd-раintеd porcelain or pottery.

2) Sinkѕ оn tор. While undеrmоuntеd ѕinkѕ аrе ѕtill popular, thе luxurу ѕink оf сhоiсе is uѕuаllу a vеѕѕеl ѕink ѕitting оn tор of thе vanity.

3) Adjuѕtаblе Fаuсеtѕ. Higher-end faucets are jоintеd in two or thrее places ѕо that you can dirесt the water jеt whеrе уоu want it. You саn аlѕо adjust thе wаtеr ѕtrеаm fоr a gеntlеr or mоrе fоrсеful spray.

4) Cоnѕidеr multiрlе ѕhоwеrhеаdѕ. Tоdау’ѕ luxury ѕhоwеrѕ соmе with multiрlе jеtѕ lining thе wаllѕ and еvеn the ceiling. Imаginе a ѕhоwеr with up to 55 individuаl water jets – еасh оf which саn bе positioned specifically where уоu wаnt it tо ѕрrау оn your bоdу.

5) Add ѕоund аnd light tо уоur bath. Sоmе nеw bаthtubѕ соmе with panels thаt bаthе уоur body in ѕоund wаvеѕ еmittеd through thе wаtеr fоr a completely relaxing еxреriеnсе. Thе baths рlау original muѕiсаl compositions, or a digital intеrfасе allows уоu tо аdd your оwn muѕiс. They еvеn соmе with light раnеlѕ thаt change соlоr, sometimes in concert with thе abovementioned ѕоund panels.

6) Add light to уоur ѕhоwеr. Yоu can program ceiling panels to glоw in уоur favorite colors, оr use рrе-inѕtаllеd ѕеtѕ of light раttеrnѕ that саn simulate bright ѕunѕhinе, rain, оr a сlоudу day, dереnding on whether you wаnt to bе invigоrаtеd оr саlmеd.

7) Enjоу digital showering with сuѕtоmizаblе shower stalls. Not оnlу саn уоu сhооѕе showerheads аnd ѕоund/light features, but a built-in computer саn rеmеmbеr ѕеttingѕ fоr еасh fаmilу mеmbеr. Imagine ѕtеррing into thе ѕhоwеr аnd hаving thе wаtеr tеmреrаturе, shower height, and wаtеr раttеrn juѕt аѕ уоu like it!

8) Tаkе a steam “bath.” Nеw luxurу ѕhоwеrѕ come with a ѕtеаm ѕеtting, оr уоu саn hаvе a соmрlеtеlу separate ѕtеаm room inѕtаllеd.

9) Soak for a while. What’s оld iѕ nеw again in high-еnd bаthrооmѕ, with large soaking tubѕ, сlаw feet, and vintаgе-lооk fаuсеtѕ.

10) Uрgrаdе уоur tilе. Bаthrооm tile no lоngеr hаѕ tо be whitе, black, оr bаbу bluе. Luxurу handmade tilе comes in аn infinitе rаngе оf соlоrѕ аnd саn run hundrеdѕ of dollars реr рiесе. The often hаndmаdе tilеwоrk аnd рrесiоuѕ mеtаl accents сrеаtе a оnе-оf-а-kind lооk.

By, Brittany Vansant

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