Summertime…and the Grilling’s Easy

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BBQThe good weather’s on its way. Let’s fire it up!

Whether you’re a die-hard charcoal fan, or more of a Hank Hill “taste the meat not the heat” propane griller, we hope you enjoy these tips and recipes. One of the great joys of owning your own home is making a space for a little outdoor cooking. It can be hard to grill on an apartment balcony!

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (http://www.hpba.org/) recently shared these interesting facts for National Barbecue Month. You can see why grilling is so popular!

81% of Americans report that at least one aspect of grilling outside is easier than cooking indoors. The most convenient parts are cited as cleanup (49%) followed by the cooking process itself (40%).

The majority of adults (58%) agree that cooking out is more fun and relaxing than dining out and beneficial for avoiding travel (58%), dress codes (57%) and crowds (56%).

70% of Americans say cooking out gets them in a healthier routine, specifically by encouraging time spent outdoors instead of cooped up in the house. Outdoor cooking also encourages adults to make smarter food choices such as eating fresh rather than frozen foods (54% agreed) and cooking healthier food on the grill overall (40% agreed).

(Source: http://www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/national-barbecue-month-2011-summertime-and-the-grilln-is-easy)

Get your tongs, spatulas, brushes, rubs, marinades, and skewers ready. Grilling doesn’t always have to be about meat. If it grows, you can grill it, and adding garden variety fruits and veggies can transform a BBQ experience. Check out 15 amazing recipes, recently featured on the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market website:

15 Great Seasonal Grilling Recipes:

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/seasonal/4th-of-july-recipes

Also: Don’t neglect to “set the stage” for grilling when selling your home. Dressing the patio for cookouts can get your buyers thinking of the fun summer afternoons ahead.

Invite the neighbors (and your real estate agent!) over and get grilling!

Looking for a patio you can call your own? Time to upgrade from no back yard to a grill-worthy lot? 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

 

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Are you Emotionally Ready to Sell?

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3861 Michaels Landing Cir E-MLS_Size-001-21-Welcome to 3861 Michaels-1024x768-72dpi
We love to sell homes. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of the process. We get great satisfaction from making our living helping people move on to the next phase of their life, whether it’s upsizing, downsizing, or simply relocating to a new neighborhood.

But there is one sort of home seller we can’t really help: The seller who’s not really ready to sell.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, don’t enter into the process lightly. It’s a big deal. There’s some stress and there’s a great opportunity for joy. There’s a big investment at stake. This, along with a lot of other reasons large and small, is why you want to be 100% sure you’re ready to sell your home. If you think you’re ready to sell, but it turns out you’re not, you waste a lot of time and energy (and sometimes money).

So how do you know if you’re really ready to sell your home?

1. You’re fine with the process. You must have no problem with the idea of a stranger poking around your house, talking about renovating it, or treating it like a used car. If you’ve lived in your house a long time, it’s natural to have emotional attachments. So if the process of selling the house makes you feel protective or defensive, you may not be ready.

2. You are flexible on the right price. Motivated sellers understand selling a home involves negotiation and competitive market pricing. If you have a number “you must get” in order to sell, then you might want to think again. Also, if all of the agents who price your home come back too low for your standards, take a breather and ask yourself if it’s go time or not.

3. You know where you’re going next. Prepared sellers have plans, even if those plans aren’t 100% firm. They’re anticipating the move and they are probably even shopping for houses, if only casually at the moment. If you can’t clearly answer the question, “Where would you like to live after you sell?” then you’re not quite there yet.

If you’re iffy on any of these, take a step back and consider how you feel. While some markets favor sellers more than others, a home can sell in any market for the right price. Don’t jump into something before you’re ready.

However, when you’re ready, we’re happy to help. Give us a call when the time is right:

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

Baby-Proof your Home

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pexels-photo-315265.jpegYou may not have kids right now, but chances are you may be entertaining guests one day who do. You can put your guests at ease and do your best to protect their little ones from harm by investing in some modest pre-visit baby proofing. Here are some sound strategies to make their visit low-stress and safe:

Mind the Power and Appliances
Outlets are enemy #1. Baby fingers are like magnets for electricity, so splurge on some plastic outlet covers which fit snugly into those empty sockets. If you have any multi-socket power strips around, be sure to cover those as well (or elevate them out of harm’s reach). Depending on the age of your youngest visitors, some may be able to reach knobs and buttons on appliances like your stove. Exploring hands can accidentally turn on the gas, so if you think your kitchen will be vulnerable, invest around $10 on stove knob covers.

Make Some Rooms Off-Limits
It may not be practical to baby proof every inch of your house, so make certain zones baby-free by using gates. Sturdy, simple, pressure-mounted gates will protect certain passages and prevent you from making any permanent holes in your wall. Alternately, use door knob covers to make even unlocked rooms less likely to be prone to an infant invasion.

Fight Falling Objects
Babies are all about testing gravity, and as they try to bring themselves upright, they’re liable to tug on anything within arm’s reach. This might include your entertainment center, bookshelf, floor lamps, or other furniture. Are there any precarious pieces which might tumble down and seriously injure a child? Consider pieces on top of shelves (like decorative glassware) which could be shaken down through modest force.

Curtail the Cords
Power cords and curtain (or blind) cords can cause falls, entanglement, or even strangulation. Tie these up out of the way or too high for a baby to reach from the floor.

Get Down and Look Around
A baby will put anything in its mouth. That will include choking hazards, dropped medications, or stray chemicals such as rat poison or cleaners. Shift your perspective to the floor and look for anything suspicious.

Some homes are more kid-friendly than others. If you’re looking for a great home for little ones, we can help you find one today!: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside – 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

7 Ways Downsizing Saves Money

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pexels-photo-723876.jpegDownsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.

2. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?

3. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)

4. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.

5. Repairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

6. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.

7. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that sprawling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue.

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? 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

Real Estate’s Potential for the Greatest Good

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group final“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

-Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881); Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

What does it mean to reveal a person’s riches to themselves? What is the mechanism by which you can even accomplish such a thing? And what does it have to do with your real estate agent?

Quite a bit!  A real estate agent has the power to reveal their clients’ self-possessed riches.

One, a good agent will help clients see how a home is an investment in their future. That they are investing in themselves, and the decision to do so is a mark of their own wisdom.

Two, a good real estate agent helps guide clients through an emotionally fraught transaction, which often shows they have deeper reserves of self-confidence and strength that they may have overlooked in the past.

Three, a real estate agent helps foster a sense of trust and interdependency — that we can, in this world, rely on others to represent our best interests, and that we are not in a perpetual state of “king of the mountain” and abject self-reliance. A client with a good agent has both a friend and a professional ally.

Whether you’re buying your first house or selling your home, there’s both a tangible, bottom-line difference when working with an agent, as well as valuable intangible benefits. For us, it’s a great privilege to be a professional part of that process!

We’d love the opportunity to “the greatest good” on your behalf.  Now is a great time to make your next move: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

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