The Top 6 Spots Where Mold Makes Its Home

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spotlight1For a healthy home, monitoring and eliminating mold is crucial. Mold is sneaky, though, and it can creep up on you when you least expect it. Spores are known to stay dormant until they have the moisture and nutrients they need to bloom. While some forms of mold are obvious, others hide and thrive until musty smells become prominent or members of your family begin developing health problems.

To be a mold sleuth you need to know the top 6 spots where mold makes its home. Check this list to see spots you may have missed:

1. The Bathroom. Yes, it’s the most common, but are you checking all the spots in the bathroom? Toilet seals, wet walls, shower curtains, and beneath sinks are well-known spots, but it’s the shower where things can get grimy. To keep mold from penetrating the tiles, you need to be sure your caulking and grout is in good shape. Otherwise, water can seep in and make a new home for mold.

2. The Kitchen. Monthly, take a look under the sink, behind the fridge, and around the dishwasher. A quiet leak in any of these areas will up the odds of a mold problem.

3. The Basement (or Crawlspace). Darkness? Check. Proximity to the earth? Check. Hidden from view? You betcha. If basements flood or older homes have poor drainage and ventilation of the crawlspace, mold can take hold.

4. The Windows. Condensation can build up here as temperatures fluctuate, and spores hanging around can gradually take hold and bloom into a black, spotty mess. This is especially true if the windows are shaded or are routinely covered by curtains.

5. The Drywall. Here’s a hidden killer in the mold battle. When water gets into the materials which make up drywall, they can promote mold growth. To cure this problem you often have to remove considerable sections of drywall to identify and remove the mold. Your nose is your best guide here.

6. The Carpet. Much like drywall, carpet can hold mold and need to be replaced. The underside of carpet hides much of the visible mold, and culprits contributing to the cause include flooding, moisture from concrete foundations, or even spills.

We are your mold-free agents! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

 

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Top 10 Ways to Make Your Home Sell Faster

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37_2P5A4007-Edit_mlsThe devil is really in the details when buyers look at a home. Lots of everyday wear and tear that you don’t even notice can ding your home in the eyes of potential buyers. Here’s the Hanley Home Team’s list of ten simple improvements you can do to help your home sell faster:

1. Spruce up your baseboards: Pets, kids, and stumbling husbands in the dark can make a mess of your baseboards. Repainting baseboards after repairing scratches with putty can make the border of any room look new.

2. Fill in nail holes: Part of interior repainting should be careful attention to those errant nail holes from pictures, shelves, and other wall-mounted baubles. Putty, smooth, sand and paint!

3. Sniff for smokers: Filter replacement is a must if someone’s been puffing in your home. Also wash down those walls, prime them to seal in any cooked-in nicotine, and repaint. Be sure to check entryways and lawns for cigarette butts, too!

4. Review the roof: Do you have missing shingles? Broken tiles? Is mold and moss sprouting up there? Do some cleaning and spot replacing.

5. Reinforce your gutters: Clean them out, dry them out, then caulk them to prevent leaks. This will keep water off the siding, reducing staining and damage.

6. Replace bad vinyl floors: Not only are they tacky when they’re cracked or cut, but they can suggest water damage to buyers.

7. Repair dripping faucets: Buyers will turn faucets on and off. What will they find? If your sinks and baths dribble, fix them before buyers imagine their future headache.

8. Tune up screens: Did you have a dog that liked to lean against the front door? Look for the sagging, hanging, bent, and bubbling screens, especially around doors. New screens look clean. Old screens suggest neglect.

9. Patch cabinet scratches: Tibet Almond Stick, Old English Scratch Cover, or even some artful re-staining can make cabinets seem new. Remember to polish them up when you’re done!

10. Reseal wobbly toilets: If the bowl moves when you sit on it, the bolts are rusted, or the bathroom floor is damp and discolored around the commode, replace the toilet or at the very least reseal it.

By the way, you can also use our tools and search for properties on our website! http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

Understanding Price Per Square Foot

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Price per square foot is a concept in real estate which is easy to understand and just as easy to misuse. The formula is pretty simple: To determine price per square foot, you take a price, such as sale price of a home, and divide it by the square footage of the property.

Price per square foot is useful in looking at broad market comparisons, such as comparing one entire metro area to another, or looking at an area’s average change over time. It is not, however, terribly accurate in figuring out the value of your home.

Why? Well, price per square foot fails to take into account the most important factors when pricing a home.

First and foremost, it makes assumptions about the home’s amenities. We all know the quality of materials used in home construction and the condition of the home’s appliances and other features can have a dramatic impact on the value of a home. A kitchen with Italian marble surfaces versus one with pressboard countertops will have completely different values. Price per square foot in a given neighborhood will blend these homes together and produce an average.

Second, price per square foot assumes locations are identical, but in almost any metro area there are up-and-coming neighborhoods as well as neighborhoods in decline. Price per square foot near an abandoned industrial zone will vary considerably from one near a well-established downtown district with a great walkability score.

Third, even the simple methodology of calculating price per square foot can be influenced by how the total number of square feet has been calculated. If one has a garage converted into a mother-in-law, and another home doesn’t, which square footage is valid? And what about home or lot size? Sometimes above or below-grade lots can influence the price per square foot as well.

Price per square foot is more useful in commercial situations where there is tremendous uniformity in the design, construction, and location, but as a tool for assessing your home’s market value, it’s flat out dangerous.

Want a real estimation of your home’s value in its current condition and location? We’d be happy to help. Get in touch today, and we’ll show you what goes into determining the optimal price for your home.  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.TheHanleyHomeTeam.com

Stop Robocalls

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robot-on-phone-smallWe’ve all been there. You’re just sitting down to dinner or your favorite Netflix binge and the phone begins ringing. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably gotten used to screening a lot of calls because so many are robocalls. You know the kind and you know the drill: Political ads and scams. You pick up saying “Hello? Hello?” and then comes that eerie pause which tells you you’re about to hear a pre-recorded message.

It’s a rude waste of your attention, and yet many of us can’t just get rid of our home phone line. While you can ignore the call, often they call multiple times a day or every day of the week at the same time. The problem is widespread.

In early 2013 the FTC held a contest to combat the scourge of robocalls. The winner of that contest was Nomorobo, a free service which can check incoming calls to your phone lines against a massive blacklist database of known robocall sources. If Nomorobo detects a robocall, it screens the call much like the way internet web forms use CAPTCHA graphics to make sure you’re human. If the caller is a bot, the call never makes it to your phone. (Nomorobo will ring your phone once to let you know a call has been blocked.) Bingo! Peace and focus are preserved.

The service is free, but your phone provider must be able to provide a feature known as “Simultaneous Calling.” The Nomorobo website provides a form which quickly allows you to determine if your carrier already provides this service. If not, you can request it be added.

You can learn more about Nomorobo here:
http://www.nomorobo.com/

We have been inundated lately with Robocalls so we wanted to share this tip with you. If you’d like to keep up with tips like these as we find them, get in touch with us today: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

The Best Holiday Gift – A New House!

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By Stacey King, REALTOR, The Hanley Home Team

Summer is the time to sell your home, right?

You might think that from the stories out there. But the reality is that buyers are always looking for homes. You just need to find the right buyer.

During the summer, homes that are for sale usually see a significantly higher amount of traffic versus their fall and winter counterparts. Some buyers looking in the summer have the philosophy that if they find the “perfect” house and can move in before school starts, they’ll move. If they don’t, they won’t. There’s not a big sense of urgency. That leads to passive buyers flooding open houses, requesting showings and not submitting offers.

The fall is a different story.

After a small traditional dip at the beginning of September, things in the real estate industry pick up in time for fall. While there are fewer “lookey loos” checking things out but not making offers, the buyers who are looking are serious.
There are plenty of things to do during the weeks leading up to Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays. A buyer who is taking time to look for homes is doing it for a reason — because they need to buy a home. Now.

For a seller, this is a winning combination. The buyers looking at your home are serious and ready to make offers, and there are fewer “passive” buyers walking through and taking a peek at your home when they’re not pressed to purchase a home. This means a reduced inconvenience for sellers accommodating showings, and more (often stronger) offers.

Is now the time to sell your home? Call the Hanley Home Team and we’ll walk you through it! http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479 Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside

What to do after a disaster hits your home, mortgage

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We hope you won’t need it, but if you need a contractor or other help after the storm, please contact our team and we are happy to be of assistance –

904-515-2479

how-prepare-hurricane-last-minute-4NEW YORK – Sept. 6, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and put countless families into a financial tailspin. If you’re affected by a natural disaster, what does it mean for your mortgage? Here are frequently asked questions and answers.

What should I do first?

Get in touch with the following entities:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can register with FEMA online, in person at a disaster recovery center or by calling 800-621-3362.
  • Your homeowners insurance company, plus your flood or earthquake insurance company, if either applies to your situation.
  • Your mortgage servicer. That’s the company that you send your monthly payments to; it might not be your original mortgage lender.

I can’t pay my mortgage. What are my options?

If the disaster makes it impossible to make your monthly house payments, ask your servicer for mortgage forbearance. A forbearance ‘allows you to stop making your payments for an agreed-upon time,’ says Lisa Tibbitts, director of public relations for Freddie Mac.

In a forbearance agreement, you might make partial payments or stop making payments for a specific time. Generally, a forbearance lasts up to six months and can be extended up to another six months. Interest still accrues during the time you aren’t making full monthly payments. But under a forbearance agreement, the lender won’t charge late fees or report you to credit bureaus.

The lender will want you to catch up on your missed payments after the forbearance period is over. That might involve paying extra every month for a few years, modifying the loan or reaching some other negotiated agreement.

To talk with a Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor before agreeing to forbearance, call 800-569-4287.

What aid is available?

Direct federal aid consists mostly of loans from the Small Business Administration. As odd as that may seem, the SBA is in charge of delivering disaster-related loans to individuals and families.

The SBA extends loans at favorable interest rates to replace or repair primary residences. You can borrow up to $200,000 to cover renovation or construction costs. Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, the SBA will lend you up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.

FEMA offers grants to fill in gaps between insurance payouts and SBA loans. The maximum grant is $33,300 per household for disasters that happen in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2017. Grants can be used for expenses such as basic home repairs that aren’t covered by insurance, temporary rent and disaster-caused medical and child care.

The Federal Housing Administration has a program that’s designed to help disaster survivors rebuild or buy replacement homes. Under the Section 203(h) program, the FHA insures mortgages for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in disasters. Borrowers don’t have to make a downpayment.

My house was destroyed. Should I keep paying the mortgage?

You should do your best to maintain your credit score. That means paying the home loan if you can afford it until you have talked with the servicer and have reached a settlement with the insurance company.

The way lenders look at it: You promised to repay your loan when you signed your mortgage documents at closing. “The borrower is liable for the loan debt, and making their payment is part of the borrower’s contractual obligation,” Alicia Jones, Fannie Mae spokeswoman, said in an email.

Note: If you apply for a loan from the SBA, it runs a credit check before inspecting your property. That’s one reason to preserve your credit score by paying your bills on time as best you can.

What happens if I stop mortgage payments without telling my servicer?

If you stop making payments without permission from your mortgage servicer, you could be charged late fees and your credit score could fall.

Homeowners “should call their lender,” says Brian Sullivan, supervisory public affairs specialist for HUD. “Don’t stop answering the phone. Don’t stop opening your mail.”

Talk with your mortgage servicer before you miss a payment. The servicer might offer forbearance.

What if I can’t contact my mortgage servicer?

Whether your loan is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the servicer is expected to reach out to you.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Freddie Mac is allowing servicers to “verbally grant” 90-day forbearances, and Fannie Mae is letting servicers grant 90-day forbearances ‘even if they cannot contact the impacted homeowner immediately.’

Even so, you should call the servicer or answer the mortgage company’s calls.

What happens if I’m in foreclosure?

Mortgage servicers receive foreclosure guidance from federal agencies, and the recommendations vary depending on the disaster.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the VA and the FHA have suspended foreclosures for 90 days in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area.

The house I was buying was destroyed or damaged. What happens now?

If a disaster happens between appraisal and closing, “the lender is expected to take prudent and reasonable actions to determine whether the condition of the property may have materially changed since the effective date of the appraisal report,” according to Fannie Mae’s guide to lenders.

If the damage is relatively minor and covered by insurance, the mortgage can be closed. But if the damage is uninsured, or if it’s major, then the house must be repaired before the mortgage can go through.

Copyright © 2017 The Steuben Courier Advocate, Holden Lewis. All rights reserved. The article “What to Do After a Disaster Hits Your Home, Mortgage,” originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Hiring a Property Manager

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One of the most important decisions you can make as a real estate investor is hiring the right property manage for your investment property. The difference between a cash-flow positive property and a drag on your finances can be an experienced, professional property manager.

You should always interview more than one property management company when you’re evaluating property managers, but do you know what to look for in a property manager? If not, these tips will help put you on the right path.

1. Find certified property managers first. Consult the National Association of Residential Property Managers (http://www.narpm.org/) to seek out property managers with certifications and designations.

2. Look for property managers with ten to fifteen miles of your property. You need managers who are willing to be hands-on and local when it comes to managing emergencies and conducting inspections.

3. Make sure your manager conducts monthly inspections. Just because they’re local doesn’t mean they’re up on inspections, so get a guarantee they’ll inspect the property each month.

4. Inquire as to how many properties the property manager currently manages. You want to be sure they’re not taking on more properties than they can handle. It’s important your property remain a priority.

5. Ask what sort of technology they use to help them manage properties. PropertyWare, Yardi, HERO, and Appfolio are some of the leading software packages on the market. Also be sure to check out their website and any social media presence they may have.

6. Be clear about fees. Make sure you understand every detail about the manager’s fee structure.

7. Ask them to detail their screening process for tenants. Don’t be shy about asking them what sort of modifications they’re willing to make based on your preferences.

If you’re new to real estate investing, I’d be happy to start you on the path to diversifying your holdings with real property. Curious what’s on the market now? Get in touch:

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

 

Open House Checklist

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2 (1024x679)The run-up to an open house is as important as the event itself. Preparing yourself and others for the event is crucial to not only showcasing a property, but also building relationships with neighbors, future buyers, and people who may just provide that essential referral. One of the best ways to ensure success every time? Make a checklist of what must be done, and set up alerts on your calendar to remind you to do the tasks on your checklist.

Below is a sample checklist of a successful open house plan:

1 week before: Create flyers with date, time, and contact info for the open house, and home/mortgage info on the house. Create a Facebook Event and invite friends, fans, and prospects.

6 days before: Call all your buyers to let them know about the open house. Hang 25 flyers and 25 door-knockers around the neighborhood.

5 days before: Check on the status of the flyers. If you run into people in the neighborhood while you’re there, introduce yourself and let them know about the open house.

2 days before: Be sure you’ve memorized the house and its details, and know its floor plan well enough to give effective tours that showcase the property. Create an attractive sign-in sheet, featuring your photo and contact info, and offering a line for their own contact info (including email address!) and space for them to share where they heard about the open house.

30 minutes before: Make sure the house is clean, and smells clean (many home sprays are clean and pleasant; avoid overtly floral or scented scents, as many people are allergic or sensitive to strong scents). Place at least 4 directional signs, each with eye-catching accessories, such as balloons to grab people’s attention and pull traffic from main intersections (don’t forget the sign license as they are required in some parts of the county).

10 minutes before: Open house and front door. Put at least two signs and 4 attention-getters out front, and an “Open” rider on the sign. Play background music, preferably something instrumental and subtle, at low volume.

Within 24-hours after: Follow up with all contacts by phone or email.

From open house to open house, you’ll refine your plan. Take notes. Write down what seemed to work, and what bombed. Over time, you’ll have a custom checklist which will help you efficiently and effectively prepare for blockbuster open houses.

Open houses are a lot more work than you might think!  Need someone to help you with your open house? Get in touch! The Hanley Home Team – expert real estate agents (and open house agents!)  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTOR – Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

 

What is an MLS?

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Front-2Do you understand what an MLS is? If you’re searching for a home, an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is absolutely crucial for discovering homes and marketing homes to agents and potential buyers. Get a clear understanding of the benefits of an MLS!

Odds are you’ve spent a little time online searching for homes. After all, most home searches begin online. You may have even used a broker’s website or a site like Trulia or Zillow to help you browse listings.

But where does listing information come from?

Way back in the day, prior to the Information Age revolution, brokers used to gather and exchange information about their properties. The idea was fairly straightforward: I’ll help you sell your properties if you help me sell mine. It’s a “private offer of cooperation and compensation.” Cooperation meant the real estate industry could thrive and buyers and sellers could enjoy smoother transactions.

This spirit of cooperation gave rise to Multiple Listing Service(s) (MLS). By consolidating information about housing inventory in an MLS, listing brokers and buyers’ brokers can easily share up-to-date information about homes on the market. Though an MLS is typically a private database available to brokers, much of the information is syndicated to outside sites in the interest of casting wider net for buyers and sellers.

As an MLS is the primary source of information about a property, it tends to be the most accurate. It may also contain private information for use by brokers only, such as times the home is available for showings and seller contact information.

There are upwards of 850 MLS databases in the U.S. alone, and to a certain extent, there is market pressure to centralize these into a national MLS database. We’re sure to see changes in how Multiple Listing Services are used in the future, but the core benefits to home sellers and buyers is sure to remain.

Ready to put the power of an MLS to work for you? Search with me today for homes on the market right now.  You can search like us at http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com or call us at 904-515-2479 – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside

 

Study: In Fla., owning beats renting

Jacksonville neighbors…this applies to our great city, too!  Do something great for yourself and your current and future finances.  If you are renting, let us walk you through the steps of home ownership.  Contact us today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS 904-515-2479 http://www.TheHanleyHomeTeam.com – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside

 

LOS ANGELES – July 27, 2017 – Arizona, Nevada and Washington, D.C. are among the 11 states where it’s more affordable to rent than it is to buy a home. But owning a home still beats renting in Florida, according to a study by website GOBankingRates.

GoBankingRates surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and identified which states are best for buying a home and which are better suited for renting. The study, based on rental data on Zillow, was sourced to June 28, 2017. For the cost of owning, the study assumed a 20-percent downpayment on a 30-year fixed loan.

In Florida, homeowners have the advantage. They GOBankingRates study found that the average monthly rent of $1,543 is $167 higher than the cost of an average monthly mortgage of $1,376. The difference amounts to about $2,000 per year that the average Florida family would save by owning rather than renting, though actual savings would differ by metro area and other variables.

The 11 states where renting a home is less expensive than buying one include Arizona, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

© 2017 Florida Realtors  Source: Study: In Fla., owning beats renting