What Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

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white and brown concrete bungalow under clear blue sky

Sure, you can consider market conditions. But when to buy a house is really all about you.

Timing determines so much when you’re buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house.

By timing your purchase just right, you can nab a great home that’s just right for you.

What Is the Best Month to Buy a House?

Let’s make this clear: There’s no such thing as a guaranteed “best month” to purchase a home. (C’mon, we never said this would be easy!)

While some conventional wisdom says there is a best time of year to buy a house — during spring home buying season (April to June) — there are pluses and minuses when it comes to what month you choose to purchase a home.

(Note: Real estate is local. Determining a best time ultimately depends on conditions in your local market.)

Here we’ve outlined some of the reasons different months can turn out to be the best time to buy a house for you:

January to March. Winter isn’t such a bad time to buy a house. Though there’s less inventory — meaning there are fewer homes for sale — there are fewer home buyers too, so you have less competition. That means there’s a lower likelihood of a bidding war, which can be a stressful experience for home buyers. Another benefit of buying a house during the cold-weather months: Home prices are typically the lowest they’ll be all year.

Still, there are drawbacks to buying a house between January and March. Inclement weather can also be a challenge, since snow or ice could make it difficult to drive around and view homes or do a thorough home inspection of some elements, such as a roof.

April to June. Welcome to spring home buying season— the peak months for not only housing supply, but also the number of home buyers shopping for houses. Because most families want to move when the kids are out of school, there’s a big incentive to buy a house this time of year, since many home buyers need to allow 30 to 60 days for closing.

The warmer weather also makes open houses more enjoyable, landscaping easier to evaluate, and inspections more comprehensive.

Even though it’s generally regarded as the best time of year to buy a house, there are downsides to the spring market. For starters, you’ll face more competition from other home buyers —  meaning you have to move quickly when a great listing hits the market. Bidding wars are a lot more common, you tend to have less negotiating power, and home prices tend to tick up during spring.

July to September. If you can handle the heat (and a little competition), summer may be the one of the best times of year to buy. Now that the spring home buying craze is over, most home prices return to normal, allowing you to save some money. The sunniest time of the year also makes being outdoors and attending open houses more enjoyable.

The hot temperatures also give home buyers the opportunity to test how well a property’s air conditioning system holds up in warm weather, which is something they can’t usually test during other times of the year.

October to December. The main downside of buying a house in autumn is that there may not be as many homes for sale in the fall as there are in the spring. But it’s not like the market goes completely quiet.

Many home buyers consider fall the best time of year to buy a house because of price reductions. Because home sellers tend to list their homes in the spring, sellers whose houses haven’t sold yet may be motivated to find buyers, and prices start to reflect that.

Is 2019 a Good Year to Buy a House?

Economic forecasts vary every year, but waiting around for annual market fluctuations isn’t the best way to decide when to buy a house. The best year to buy a house is when you and anyone you intend to buy a house with are ready.

To help, complete this home buying worksheet with your home buying partner to help determine if now is the best time to buy a house you can reasonably afford in the location you want. Then take your worksheet to a REALTOR® and discuss your options.

Why doesn’t the year matter much? The housing market and your local real estate market do change, but they tend to change gradually. Even if waiting a couple of years for those factors to change can save you a bit of money, the bigger question is how much more money you could gain in equity by owning a home during those two years.

While everyone’s financial situation will be different deciding when to buy a house is mostly about the timing that is best for you, not when the market is perfect.

Are Interest Rates Good in 2019?

Many home buyers try to time the market by monitoring mortgage rate changes with the hopes of pouncing on a remarkably low rate. But interest rates are like the stock market — no one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict when rates will rise or fall.

Plus, what’s considered a good interest rate is relative. Interest rates today are low compared to what they were 20 to 30 years ago. Mortgage rates reached an all-time high of 18.45% in 1981, as the U.S. Federal Reserve drove up rates in an effort to counteract double-digital inflation. By the end of the 1980s, though, mortgage rates had finally crept below 10%.

Interest rates continued to decrease over the 1990s and 2000s. Today, mortgage rates are at historic lows.

Market interest rates are just one part of how affordable a house will be for you at any given time. Your credit score, for example, helps to determine the interest rate a mortgage lender will offer you.

Then, fluctuations in property taxes and homeowner’s insurance can affect overall home ownership costs as much as changes in interest rates can. So overall, current interest rates play a pretty small role in the best time to buy a house for you.

Does 2019’s Economy Support Home Buying?

Economic conditions are different from region to region and even from one ZIP code to another in the same city, so whether this year is the best time to buy a house can depend on where you are.

One tool you can use to assess the state of your local housing market is realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, which tracks home sales and home buyer activity across the country. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) measures monthly single-family home sales in the four major U.S. regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West).

Still, nothing beats having a savvy real estate agent in your corner to gauge the local market for the best time to buy a house. After all, the right agent knows your local housing market down to the neighborhoods — and can help you interpret the raw housing market data to help you time your home purchase well.

When Is the Best Time in Your Life to Buy a House?

There’s no magical age or life stage at which you’ll know for sure exactly when to buy a house. There are, however, a few factors you’ll want to take into account.

Finances. How’s your credit score? Can you afford to take on a monthly mortgage payment? Do you have enough cash to pay for a down payment and closing costs? Sit down with a mortgage lender who can help you evaluate your finances.

You’ll also need to budget for home maintenance expenses. One rule of thumb says homeowners should set aside 1% to 3% of their home’s purchase price a year for home maintenance and repairs. So, if your home cost $400,000, you’d set aside at least $4,000 annually. (Doing preventative maintenance, however, can go a long way toward staving off expensive repairs.)

Stability. If you’re on solid ground financially, with a stable job to support you, buying a home can be a way to lower your monthly housing costs (real talk: Owning is often cheaper than renting in some cities), gain a valuable financial asset, and, if you itemize, reap some tax benefits.

If you’re ready to commit to a home and city (and your job) for a few years, you’re probably in a stable enough situation to be a homeowner.

Lifestyle: Owning a house allows you to develop a strong relationship with a local community. Buying a home should align with your life goals. If you’re starting a family soon, planting your roots in a kid-friendly neighborhood with a great school district is usually a good reason to buy a house.

There’s also something to be said about the pride of owning a home and having a place you can call yours — one that you can customize to your heart’s desire.

Should You Buy or Rent?

To rent or to buy a home — it’s a common conundrum. Often this is the core financial decision potential home buyers wrestle with when deciding when to buy a house. To sort it out, start with your exit plan.

If you expect to be moving within the next couple of years, you probably should rent. Why? Because the general rule is it only makes sense to buy if you plan to stay in the home for at least two to three years.

Likewise, if you’re not ready to take on the maintenance responsibilities of being a homeowner, or aren’t ready to commit to a particular community right now, renting an apartment likely makes more sense than buying a home.

The local housing market is also a factor in the decision to buy or rent. In some cities, renting can be cheaper than owning, though price appreciation often brings wealth to buyers. Therefore, the financial benefits of owning a home and gaining equity over time is a better way to spend your money than forking it over to a landlord.

Investing vs. Living

The best time to buy a house for the first time is generally when you’re ready to live there long term. Long term, real estate can be a lucrative path towards financial success, particularly if you can nab a low interest rate in the right housing market.

But a lot of factors go into whether buying an investment property is the right move for you, including how much risk you can tolerate and the local economy.

Generally, it’s smart to consider your first home purchase all about you. It’s about investing in a place you can make your own and live your life day to day.

The moral? There’s nothing quite like home ownership. While not everyone is ready for it, if you’ve determined the best time to buy a house is right now, it can be the beginning of the most satisfying journey of your life.

Have any questions or are you ready to start your new home search in 2019? Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

By: Daniel Bortz / Originally Published: April 18, 2019

Upsizing your home

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family of four walking at the street

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.

WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

MOVING OUTWARD

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.


Have any questions or are you ready to start your new home search in 2019? Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Having the Talk with Your Aging Parents

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Having The Talk

A Challenging First Step

By Joe Gilmore, Landmark Senior Living

Talking about long-term care needs with an elderly parent or other loved one can be a difficult thing. You may not know exactly how to approach it without coming off as rude or disingenuous. However, when it comes to a loved one’s health, it is important to cast aside how you feel to ensure that they can live safely and happily later in life. It is especially important to have this conversation before a problem occurs, not after.

An American Assoc. of Retired Persons survey found that two-thirds of adult children have never had this conversation. This is most likely due to the fact that a lot of adult children don’t know how to engage in this type of talk, or how to begin it. To begin, you have to decide who is going to be there during the talk and what the discussion is going to center around.

Keeping your loved one or parent safe later in their life is a priority, and talking to them about living situations, such as assisted living or even enlisting the help of a caregiver, is the first step. This is especially true if your parent or loved one has experienced a traumatic event in the recent past, such as a fall or the loss of a spouse.

Tips for the Talk

• Decide how you are going to do it and who’s going to be there. Sometimes a one-on-one talk is best; however, if you need someone to back up your points or provide another point of view, it may be a good idea to get other family members involved.

• Go over which talking points you will speak on before approaching your loved one, and set up a time and place to talk.

• Express each idea as an opinion of yours rather than a need for them. For example, choosing phrases like “I think” or “I need” rather than “you should” or “you need” are good ways to avoid conflict.

• Remind your loved one that everyone is there because they care and want to help keep them safe.

• Stay calm. Don’t raise your voice, speak over your loved one, or encourage any hostility during this discussion, as it will only make the situation worse.

• If your loved one immediately dismisses the idea of leaving their home, it may be best to drop the issue for the moment and bring it back up at another time.

The first step in beginning the talk is setting up how you are going to do it and who’s going to be there. Sometimes it is best for the talk to be a one-on-one; however, if you need someone to back up your points or provide another point of view, it may be a good idea to get other family members or loved ones involved. Every family is different, and it may be a good idea to disregard some family members when deciding who is invited to speak.

It is best to go over which talking points that you will speak on before approaching your parent or loved one. Meeting beforehand to talk about these things is recommended. Create a plan on how you wish to talk about this.

Understanding Your Loves Ones’ Goals for the Future

Your conversation about the future doesn’t have to focus only on a caregiving plan. You may also consider talking generally with your loved ones about what is important to them as they grow older. This checklist can be used as a starting point to better understand their priorities. Start by asking then to check all those that apply and then spend some time talking about each one in a little more detail:
__ To remain as independent as possible for as long as possible

__ To remain healthy and active

__ To remain in my home as long as possible

__ To focus on a hobby

__ To work for as long as possible

__ To become involved in the community

__ To remain as financially independent as possible

__ To take classes

__ To create a safety net in the event of an emergency or crisis situation

__ To start my own business

__ To buy a second home

__ To move closer to my family

__ To relocate to a smaller home

__ To retire in a different place

__ To travel

__ To be able to help my children and grandchildren

After going over the points you will make, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up a time and place to talk with your parent or loved one. This may require the use of some type of web communications like Skype or just over the phone if someone can’t be there or lives in a different area.

Depending on how you are hoping to help your parent, there are a few ways to go about this. For example, if you are just hoping to enlist the help of a caregiver, or become the caregiver yourself, it will take less convincing than, say, getting them to agree to be admitted to an assisted-living or residential care facility.

When speaking with a parent or a loved one about what you feel they should do, it is best to phrase it in a way that expresses that it is an opinion of yours rather than a need for them. For example, choosing phrases like “I think” or “I need” rather than “you should” or “you need” are good ways to avoid conflict.

Be sure to remind your parent or loved one that everyone is there because they care and want to help keep them safe. It may even be beneficial to bring up times when your parent may have had their health put at risk — maybe a fall or another incident.

This is also true for other major events like the loss of a spouse. There is evidence that the social isolation that stems from living alone and independently can lead to problems like loneliness and depression.

It is also important not to raise your voice or encourage any hostility during this discussion, as it will only make the situation worse. You should also be aware of when your parent is trying to talk. Do not try to speak over them, as it will likely lead to an argument. Keep your cool and remain calm during the discussion, even if others don’t.

Some parents will dismiss the idea of moving to an assisted-living facility immediately or adamantly. If this is the case, it may be best to drop the issue for the moment and bring it back up at another time down the road.

At the end of the meeting, make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the issues, concerns, and considerations presented.

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

 

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

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

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