Ranking Your Home Priorities


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shutterstock_111388436Buying a home is exciting. A new neighborhood. More space. A yard. A shorter commute. There are all kinds of reasons people get amped up to go house hunting online and start dreaming of a new home. But when the market is competitive and sellers have an advantage, finding a home that is truly “perfect” is increasingly hard to do. Sometimes this keeps people from buying, and often excellent opportunities are missed simply because buyers sit on the sidelines hoping for perfection.

On one hand, this makes sense. A home is a huge investment. Why rush into it? You want to get it right. But on the other hand, buyers forget that a home is an investment. People sometimes allow themselves to become blinded by the thought that they’re locked into a home, when in reality a home is often only held for seven to ten years on average. What you want to keep in mind as you shop is how well you’ll do from an investment perspective over time.

Adopting an investment mindset means looking at the prospects of a neighborhood, buying at a fair price, and considering factors which may not even matter to you personally as you shop for a home. Yes, you want to be comfortable. Yes, you want it to have the right layout and enough space for your needs. But you also want to imagine who might buy the home in the future.

Even if a home is not ideal, there are factors you should rank before you make an offer. Savvy investors know these four factors can have a giant impact on price when the time comes to reap a return:

1. Affordability. Look for value. Homes which are below median prices are worth a second look, simply because they allow you to prevent yourself from becoming “house poor” in your mortgage while setting yourself up for a larger return when you sell.

2. Schools. You may not have kids or want kids at the moment, but it’s a fact that good schools will help you sell and bad schools will hurt. Check into the local schools on a website like GreatSchools.com.

3. Transit and walkability. Ditching the car in favor for walkability and public transportation is a plus for a home’s value. How’s shopping and entertainment nearby? Check WalkScore.com.

4. Crime rates. BestPlaces.net will give you some insight into local crime rates. Even if crime rates aren’t ideal, see if there are any trend indications. If they’re going to improve, that could mean money in your pocket in the future.

Need more advice during your home search?  Call our team buyer experts today! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


6 Pre-Inspection Tips for Sellers


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1 (1024x676)Everyone wants a smooth home inspection. Sellers, buyers, agents… everyone’s rooting that this high-stakes moment passes without a hitch. Add to that list the home inspector, too! Save time, save money. If you’re selling, there are things you can do to make the home inspector’s job easier and help ensure the most accurate report possible.

1. Declutter your appliances. Get the pots off the stove, remove pans stored in the oven, take that bowl out of the microwave, and check the washer and dryer bins for clothes. While all of these appliances need to be tested, you don’t want an inspector rummaging through your laundry or scorching a pot to get the job done.

2. Replace burned-out lightbulbs. If a light switch doesn’t work, the inspector will need to determine if it’s a problem with the fixture itself. Take the time to hunt down those lightbulbs that might be out-of-the way, too… (Closets, attics, basements, guest rooms, etc.)

3. Keep access doors clear. You might have furniture blocking seldom-used crawlspace entrances, or the space for the pull-down stairs up to the attic may be obstructed. Make these entryways clear to the inspector and save them the time and hassle of getting into hidden areas.

4. Be honest about what doesn’t work. Don’t deceive your home inspector or hope they’ll overlook something. It’s bound to come out, and failure to disclose home defects can be a legal hassle down the line. Know the garbage disposal is broken? Say so. Leave notes for the inspector or prepare them in advance with an email message, etc.

5. Point out pumps and septic tank locations. If you have your own well and septic system, make sure the location of these is clearly described for the inspector. Annotate a photo or draw a simple map if need be.

6. Check your smoke detectors. People forget to change batteries in smoke detectors, and if you’ve neglected yours (or taken them down to change batteries and left them in the garage!) double-check to make sure they’re in place and functioning.

Naturally, this list assumes you’ve made any pre-inspection repairs you want to address. Want a more information about the home inspection process? 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

Would you AirBnB your home to sell it?


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for-rent1If you stop to think about it, selling a home is a bit of a strange endeavor. You’re asking prospective buyers to make a huge investment in your home without the experience of actually living there. Yet this is standard procedure. Buyers make offers after showings without having spent a single night in the home where they’re planning on living!

Now there’s an emerging marketing trend designed to take some of the ambivalence out of buying a home. Some sellers are taking the steps to let prospective buyers “live” in their house for a few days to see if the home is right for them.

AirBnB is one platform making this strategy possible. Most effective for sellers who have staged their house and are not currently living in the listing, the approach is direct: Sellers list the home on AirBnB and when they have an interested buyer, they arrange a temporary “rental” of the property. This way, the buyers get to spend real time in the home. They are allowed privacy, the chance to see what it’s like to sleep in the house at night, and use the facilities just as they would if they owned the home.

While the approach goes a long way to calming buyer fears, the idea is not without its critics. For one, not all brokers may be comfortable with this approach. Obviously having prospective buyers temporarily rent the home can create difficulties showing the home to other buyers when the property is rented.

Also, there are infrequent horror stories associated with this type of short-term rental. Home damage and even squatters who refuse to leave have happened to people listing their property on AirBnB. Finally, there are potential legal complications related to short-term rentals in certain communities.

You can see the appeal, though. There’s a real potential for buyers to build an emotional attachment to your home if they spend a little vacation time there together while evaluating the property.

What do you think? Would you AirBnB your home if it gave you an selling advantage?

AirBnB’ing your home is hardly the only strategy for a quick, competitive sale. We have a full range of marketing and sales techniques to help you sell! If you’re thinking about selling soon, get in touch to see what we can do for you: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Aging in an Accessible Home


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elderlycouple1If you love your home and plan to live it in through your retirement years, you’ll want to be sure it’s safe for you as you face some of those little challenges aging presents. Assess your home and see if there are any changes you may need to make. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of injury, but it will also give your loved ones peace-of-mind, especially if you live alone.

Here’s what you’ll want to inspect as you consider aging in place:

1. Bathroom handrails. Next to the toilet and tub are top choices. Not only are they there for moments of instability, but they can help you raise and lower yourself more easily. You might also consider converting to a walk-in shower with a seat.

2. Non-slip surfacing. Showers and tubs are much safer if you reduce the chance of slippage. Having coating installed to facilitate your grip is a good idea.

3. Stairway railings. Both inside and outside stairways should have sturdy, useful rails (i.e. not just decorative).

4. Ample lighting. Consider adding lighting indoors and outdoors. Decreased visibility is a major contributor to falls. Lighting also adds security by deterring would-be burglars.

5. Sharp edges. Tables, countertops, and other areas were sharp edges are likely to be found should be replaced with rounded surfaces.

6. Flat thresholds. Transitions from room-to-room should be as bump-free as possible. You may be used to stepping over the occasional random stair or elevated threshold, but you might not be so agile as you age.

7. Storage height. If you’ve been used to climbing up and down step ladders to access your storage spaces, look for alternative storage options.

8. Furniture support. Is your couch too low? Do your chairs have arm rests for support? Are countertops too high? Find the sweet spot where comfort and safety meet.

Home size is often an issue as well, especially if there are upkeep and maintenance issues to consider. Of course, if you’ve decided your current home isn’t the greatest for an age-in-place approach to your golden years, we are happy to help you sell your current home or look for a new one:  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479 The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside

Tips for Adding a Bathroom to your Home


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20180105213409723228000000-oHave you been living with a single-bathroom home? Is the time here to consider adding an extra full-bathroom or “water closet” to your existing layout? First, know that of all the renovations you can make to a single-bathroom home, adding an extra bathroom is one of the soundest investments you can make. With rare exception, the money you put into a second bathroom should pay handsomely when you list your house in the future. The bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in your home and it can have a profound impact on how prospective buyers see your home in the future once you’re ready to move on. If you’ve been curious about the process or want to make the leap two a two-bathroom home without relocating, you’ll want to keep some tips in mind about this special renovation project.

1. Think about where you can add a bathroom versus where you think it’s ideal. You’ll want to identify where your existing water and waste lines are in the home. Adding a bathroom across the house ups the complexity and expense.

2. Single-story homes with crawl spaces have a bit more flexibility for adding a bathroom since crawl spaces provide easy access for running plumbing lines. If you have a two-story house, aligning your new bathroom (either upstairs or down) with your existing one can ease plumbing challenges.

3. Adding a tub can add value, especially if you suspect future buyers might have children.

4. Natural light and ventilation are a big plus. While fans are common and should be installed, being able to draw in sunlight or air out a bathroom via an exterior wall can really upgrade the luxury feel.

5. Always get the proper permits for work and only collaborate with licensed and bonded contractors. You want to make sure you’re covered in the event of any problems and you’ll definitely want to be able to show future buyers that your work is legit and up to code.

6. Choose high-end design fixtures where possible, especially if the bathroom is small. Innovative luxury options can make the room feel larger and really add that “wow” factor. Some nice-to-have options include a towel warmer and separating the toilet from the rest of the room via a “water closet” partitioning. Go with neutral palettes and classic tiles for a timeless effect. You can always jazz up the space with rugs, towels, or other bath accessories.

If adding a bathroom sounds like more hassle than it’s worth, you might want to consider your next move! We’d be happy to help you find a home with your dream bathroom already included! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Protecting your Pipes in Winter


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Hey Jacksonville (and the rest of the United States), this article may come in handy right now! Don’t risk thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs… take the time to protect your pipes from bursting. When water freezes in your pipes, the ice expands, adding to the overall pressure in your home’s plumbing. When this force builds, it can cause pipes to split. In addition to plumbing repairs, you might find yourself on the hook for flooding damage, too.

The pipes most at risk? Those exposed to the lowest temperatures, of course. This includes plumbing on the exterior of the home, in exterior walls, and exposed pipes in those unheated zones of your home. Did you know that even a frozen garden hose can cause enough pressure to split an interior pipe? Be sure to disconnect and drain them. Faucets outside are vulnerable as well, so you’ll want to locate the shutoff valves for those spigots and make sure they’re drained before a freeze.

Naturally, if you’re not going to be around for the winter months, you’ll want to prepare your home before you head to a warmer climate. Don’t let the house drop below the mid-50s, and shut off the water main and be sure to drain the home’s plumbing by letting the faucets run to empty and flushing the toilets.

But what do you do if the freeze takes you by surprise? Here are some quick tips to try and save yourself from a plumbing nightmare:

1. Get the taps running. You don’t need a rushing stream of water, just make sure indoor and outdoor faucets are letting a steady drip out to keep the water moving.

2. Open up closed spaces. Have an unheated garage? Pipes in cabinets? Get warm air circulating in there by opening them up to climate-controlled areas of your home. The added heating expense is nothing compared to costly repairs.

3. Insulate pipes. If you suspect the pipes are starting to accumulate some ice, you can try hot towels (soaked in hot water) to loosen the frosty slush in the pipes.

4. Hair dryer to the rescue. When hot towels won’t help, don’t hesitate to get out your trusty hairdryer or heat gun to thaw things out. No open flames, though!

Finally, if you fear the worst is already upon you, turn off your water main. At least this way you won’t face a flood when things get moving again. Protect your home this winter!

Enjoy helpful home tips? Let us know and we’ll include you on our free, periodic mailings: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of KellerWilliams Realty Atlantic Partners http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479


What should we truly value this Christmas Time?

imagesAs we enjoy the holiday season, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the season when family and friends gather, and the big picture in terms of how we’re all expected to get along on this increasingly crowded planet of ours.

The holidays often put people around the table who may not normally see one another throughout the year. Far flung relatives, cousins, in-laws, and other guests-of-guests may come from all walks of life. Their political, religious, and social viewpoints may differ widely from our own. Yet when we see them during the holidays, we do our best to tolerate differences. Ideally, we look for ways to connect rather than provoke arguments.

Tolerance is not always the easiest value to embrace. Now, especially, we can find ourselves thrust into polemic arguments driven by political and media forces which command enormous attention and influence. Social media and a profound lack of face-to-face interaction makes it easier to distance ourselves from our mutual, essential humanity if we let it. It is easy to be intolerant. Easy to erect high walls. Easier than ever to segment and align ourselves with only those who agree with our values and sense of our role the world.

We would gently urge everyone to see the Christmas season as more than a time to buy gifts, give thanks for our blessings, and eat sweet treats. Let us remember to practice tolerance, acceptance, and recognize the importance of diversity in this world.

God Bless you and your family!

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

10 Tip for Protecting your Home During Vacations


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imagesWe hope you all have a safe and relaxing time during your vacation this summer. It’s crucial that we all have time to recharge and recognize what’s important in life. We only go around once, so it’s important to savor what we have.

Before you leave town, we thought you might be interested in a few precautionary safety tips to keep your home and your possessions safe while you’re gone. Often in the run-up to a vacation, people neglect to take simple steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of theft or vandalism.

You’ve probably covered your bases, but just in case, here are 10 basic precautions you can take:

1. Have someone collect your mail and newspaper daily.

2. Leave shades and blinds in normal positions.

3. Put at least two lights and a radio on automatic timers.

4. Have someone leave trash at your curb on garbage collection day.

5. Have someone park a car in your driveway occasionally. If you leave your car outside, arrange to have it moved every so often.

6. Leave a key with a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency. Let the neighbor know where you are going and when you are expect to return, also leave them a way to get in contact with you in case of an emergency.

7. Lock all windows and doors before you go. Do not forget to double-check basement and garage doors.

8. On extended trips have someone to maintain your landscaping, (grass mowed, leaves raked, etc.)

9. Consider turning off your home’s water main to prevent damage from a burst pipe.

10. Be careful how much you check-in on social media while on vacation. If your privacy settings are incorrect you might reveal to strangers your home is vacant!

Be safe and have a blast…

Is buying or selling your home a priority in 2018?  Give us a call and let’s make your New Year’s resolution a reality – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com