3 DIY Steps to a Much Warmer Home This Winter

If you’re cold inside your home this winter, odds are it’s because the heat — which you work hard to pay for — is escaping. It’s rushing out through air leaks that can be difficult to find, both on the interior and exterior of your home.

So how do you figure out where you’re losing air?

#1 Use Smoke to Find Air Leaks Inside

Stand by windows and doors and feel drafts with your hand, but it’s better if you can ‘see’ the air leaks. You can invest in a professional smoke pencil (around $35) or even a Wizard Stick, a science toy that produces fog (around $25). A thin stream of smoke or fog directed toward the window frame makes it easy to spot where the air — and your money — is going.

Outside, check the foundation for cracks and gaps, electrical outlets, and water faucets.

Make a list of where the leaks are and check out Energy Star’s tips on locating air leaks for additional techniques.

#2 Do Your Own Energy Audit

It’s easy to have a home energy audit done by a professional, but for DIYers, Energy.gov has a great home audit checklist, and Energy Star has the Home Energy Yardstick to help you do it yourself. This will give you an idea of where your home is and should be on the energy efficiency scale.

If you want a professional to do the job, you may qualify for state aid for the audit and repairs. Look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for policies and initiatives by state that can help save you money when it comes to making your home more energy efficient.

#3 Add Weatherstripping and Spray Insulation

Plug and caulk holes caused by penetrations such as electrical outlets, and seal leaks around windows and doors using caulk and weatherstripping. Outside, use spray foam insulation to fill holes. Replace window glazing to keep the seal tight.

Fixing air leaks will make your home more energy efficient. You’ll feel warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and, perhaps best of all, you’ll save on monthly utility bills.

Follow this blog and check me out on Facebook, and Instagram for more advice, tips and up to date real estate info! Thanks!

How to Identify the “Must-Haves” vs. “Nice-to-Haves” for a First Home


Five Tips to Create a Home Wish List

When dreaming of a first home the options are endless. From a backyard oasis with a patio and swimming pool, to a gourmet kitchen with the most up-to-date appliances, plenty of space to entertain friends or a gorgeous master bedroom suite, no first time home buyers wish list is the same.
However, in reality, it is not always possible to find a first home with everything, so buyers must decide in advance what items are “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” on a first home wish list.

To help first-time home buyers, we have provided the following five tips to help determine what they will need vs. what is nice to have in a first home.

Know your budget:

The first step to creating a list of “must-haves” is to be realistic about what is affordable and determine a budget. Buyers should enlist a local real estate agent to help with the home search. An agent with years of expertise understands the local market and can help buyers find comparable home prices and determine what is affordable in their budget.

Find that perfect “location, location, location”:

Everyone has heard this phrase before when it comes to real estate, and while the surrounding neighborhood and home itself may improve over time, the physical location will remain the same. Buyers should determine in advance how close they would like to live to their work, schools or extended family. A short commute to work, proximity to family or having easy access to highways and mass transit are often “must-haves.” The location will also determine some home amenities that are possible or difficult to have within the buyer’s budget. For example, if a buyer has to live close to work in a big city, they may have to cross a garage or outdoor space from their wish list.

Determine non-negotiable accommodations:

A comfortable place for everyone in the family is always a “must have.” For a family of four, three bedrooms may be non-negotiable. For a family with grandparents living at home, an extra bedroom on the first floor may also be non-negotiable. After determining the budget and neighborhood, the most important factor is that everyone living in the home has a comfortable place to stay.

Pick a lifestyle fit:

After fulfilling the most important needs, buyers should find out what features of a home will best fit their lifestyle. For example, buyers who love to cook and entertain may want a home with a gourmet kitchen and decide to give up the large master bedroom. Or, buyers who love to spend time outdoors may compromise a large family room for a big backyard.

Have a vision:

When looking at a first home, buyers should avoid getting distracted by decorations, paint or flooring that may not fit their taste. Items such as paint color or carpeting are easy to fix and always worth compromising on. If everything else about a home fits the wish list, a new coat of paint and a little redecorating are easy finishing touches on a dream home.

For more tips and real estate advice, contact me anytime!

Jeannine Harrington

The Brown Group Realty

401-932-7844

Oceanstateliving@gmail.com

7 Pricing Myths You Need to Get Past If You Want to Sell Your Home

20180817_112057When homeowners are preparing to put their properties on the market, one aspect is usually foremost in their minds: money. Setting the asking price accurately can mean the difference between getting an offer quickly and having a house languish for months, drawing little interest.

With that in mind, it’s important that potential sellers block out a lot of the noise that often surrounds the intricate art and science of pricing. There are plenty of myths that may cause sellers to lose sleep at night as they attempt to separate fact from fiction.

The following are statements that can stand in the way of a successful sale.

1. ‘If we keep waiting, a better offer will come along!’

When sellers receive an offer from the first showing, they may be skeptical or hesitant to accept it, wondering if other prospective buyers would be inclined to pay more. Thoughts of potential bidding wars could cause sellers to want to wait and see who else falls for their place. But, remember the old adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” There’s no guarantee other would-be buyers are waiting around the corner. If the offer is a fair one, entertain it and count your blessings.

2. ‘Getting an offer right away, means the agent priced it too low!’

When sellers receive an offer early in the process, as excited as they might be, many can’t help but wonder, “Should we have asked for more money? Did our agent price it too cheaply?” While it’s natural to be skeptical (and even a little greedy), receiving an offer on the early end of the spectrum most likely means your home was priced accurately and attractively. If you trust your agent, you know he or she didn’t pick a number out of the sky, but rather based it on extensive market research. So, be glad your sale is moving in the right direction.

3. ‘We should price it so there’s room to negotiate!’

Let’s be honest: Most sellers would love to get top dollar for their homes. But overpricing it with the intention of being willing to accept a lower offer may just leave you empty handed in the long run. Plus, if you have to drop your ask multiple times, buyers may begin to wonder what’s wrong with the place — other than the price, that is.

4. ‘That’s not what my Zestimate says it’s worth!’

Have you ever noticed how homeowners are eager to believe Zestimates or other automated valuation models when that price exceeds their expectations? Yet, when the opposite happens, they assume it’s outdated or erroneous information? The point we’re making is, these numbers can be inaccurate, so again, trust your agent over the Internet. Enough said.

5. ‘We can add all renovation costs to the asking price!’

Sellers may adore the improvements and renovations they’ve made and want to add in those costs to the asking price. But remember, not every change is going to land a huge return on investment. If you’re curious about what you can expect on those fixes, check out Remodeling Magazine‘s annual ‘Cost Versus Value’ report to get an idea of which upgrades yield the biggest bang for your buck. Also, as you’re making changes, bear in mind that the infinity pool you view as an asset may just seem like a huge liability to a buyer.

6. ‘My Realtor® overpriced my house to make a larger commission.’

Agents are paid a percentage of the selling price of the home. However, even if they were to raise the ask by $25,000, in most cases that would yield an additional $1,500 in commission, which would then be divvied up between the broker the agent is working for and the buyer’s agent, leaving your agent with less than $750 more in his or her pocket. It’s hard to imagine an agent would blow a potential quick sale — and take on weeks or months of additional showings and marketing expenses — for a few hundred dollars.

7. ‘Reducing the price is a sign of weakness!’

While no homeowner is eager to drop the listing price, if time is passing and there’s been little interest, it could be time to consider lowering the ask. Remember, time is money. While you’re waiting for someone to meet your price, you’re still paying the mortgage, taxes, utilities, and insurance etc. Plus, sometimes, lowering the price can put your home in front of a group of new buyers, which could generate a lot more interest and, ultimately, get the price back up closer to where it was in the first place.

When in doubt, speaking to a professional who has assisted in the sale of dozens, even hundreds of homes, is your best bet for a smooth sale, for the best price the current market will bring you.
Feel free to contact me anytime at 401-932-7844 or email me at jeannine@browngrouprealty.com

I believe everyone should feel confident when buying or selling a home.

https://innercircle.lightersideofrealestate.com/articles/resourceful/homeselling/7-pricing-myths-need-get-past-want-sell-home

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

Call or text me, Jeannine Harrington, at 401-932-7844 or email me at OceanStateLiving@gmail.com any time!  I’m here to help get you on the right track to home ownership!!

 

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. 

Real Estate Agents Are Like Stay-At-Home Moms

And I can say that because I have been both!


Ahhhh, to be a stay-at-home mom.

Hanging around, playing with the kids all day. Taking naps. Watching TV. Eating snacks… perhaps some bon-bons.

And then they get to have Mother’s Day. A whole day to be pampered and waited on. Like they need a day off, right?!

It’s not like they have a real job…

Must be nice having such an easy life, not having to work.

Oooooph.

That’s pretty rude to say, let alone think, right?

And it’s ignorant.

You probably cringed reading it.

Depicting a stay-at-home mom that way has become less common…less tolerated.

But you’ve certainly heard them depicted that way at some point.

It’s no walk in the park

If you do think the life of a stay-at-home mom is easy, you don’t even need to walk a mile in her shoes. Just offer to take her kids to the park for an hour or so. That’ll give you some perspective.

Sure, there’s fun and joy being at home with her children. But there’s also a whole lot of stress, worry, and frazzled nerves…and a whole lot of work.

Being a stay-at-home mom is no “walk in the park”.

It’s busy days sandwiched between early mornings and sleepless nights.
Often there’s an entire lack of understanding and appreciation for everything she does all day. Every day.

Sure, over the years, what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom has become more understood. People tend to have empathy.
Yet, there’s the ever-present question moms often feel the need to justify and explain to others — “What do you do all day?”

It’s not like they need to answer that question, or prove anything to anyone. But it sure is nice when someone understands, empathizes, and respects what she does — and not just another stay-at-home mom.

It’s similar to being a real estate agent

While stay-at-home moms have gained understanding and empathy for what they do on a daily basis, real estate agents have not.

Not that it’s an issue most people have on their minds. But real estate agents certainly do.

It’s not uncommon for a real estate agent to hear someone say how nice it must be nice not to have a “real job”, and so much free time. It’s not unheard of for an agent to hear someone ask them if they are ever going to get a “real job”.

But it is a “real job”…and a tough one at that.

Not that agents need to justify, explain, or answer these questions for anyone but themselves…

…but it sure is nice when someone understands, empathizes, and respects what they do — and not just another real estate agent.

Like a mom

Most real estate agents aren’t rolling in dough, despite what many on the outside seem to think. Sure, some do. But very few…

But all real estate agents work tremendously hard for whatever amount they earn. Most work much harder, and much longer for every penny they earn than they would in a “real job”.

More often than not, it’s busy days sandwiched between early mornings and sleepless nights. Every day of the week, month, and year.

Sure, their days can be filled with fun and joy. It is fun to be with different clients every day, and go in and out of houses. It’s fun not to be tied down to a desk every minute of the work day. And there’s tremendous joy in getting a client’s home sold, or getting them into their dream home.

But there’s also a lot of stress and worry.

There’s stress and worry for their clients, their family, and themselves. (In that order for most agents.)

Yet, like a mom, they keep their cool, calm, cheerful demeanor. No need to worry their “children” with how they feel, or the weight of the world they help others navigate.

Not to refer to clients as children at all. But the care and concern for a client is much like a mom’s concern for her children. There’s a care for their clients that comes before their own needs and concerns.

Walk a mental mile in the shoes of an agent

Going back to the beginning…

At this point, it’s cringe-worthy to portray the life of a stay-at-home mom as easy and not a real job.

There was no formal movement that got people to start seeing things differently…just growing awareness and consideration. Bit by bit. Year by year. Decade by decade. Who knows who or what day that started?

While it may take years to get the same sort of growing respect and appreciation for what life as a real estate agent is truly like, let’s start it today.

Walk a mental mile in the shoes of an agent. Picture the stress, worry, and lack of guarantee they deal with every day.

And, in time, perhaps we’ll all cringe whenever someone claims it must be nice being a real estate agent, not having to have a “real job”.

Maybe, just maybe, someone will create a holiday called “Real Estate Agent Day”. But it better not be held on Sundays… ’cause they’ll probably all be working.

MARKET UPDATE: R.I.’s Housing Market Shows Strong Price Gains in First Quarter

Warwick, R.I. – April 25, 2018…The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reported that the median price of single-family home sales increased 9.7 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to $252,250. Nineteen hundred and thirty-eight (1938) homes sold last quarter, down from 1982 sales in the first quarter of last year. Single-family home sales activity fell or stayed the same year over year in all but 17 of the 40 districts measured.

The median sales price of multifamily properties also saw a significant increase. At $225,000, that sector’s median price was 25 percent higher than that seen in the first quarter of 2017. Sales activity also increased, rising 3 percent.

“There’s no doubt about it. Homeowners who decide to sell are seeing good profits because their equity rose substantially over the past few years,” said Joe Luca, 2018 president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. “When asked what the three most important words were in real estate, the answer most often given is ‘location, location, location.’ Now it could be argued that it could be ‘timing, timing, timing.’ The market is hot for sellers right now.”

The year also started off strong in the condominium market. The first quarter median sales price rose 7.7 percent to $210,000 and sales activity increased 7.3 percent.

Though Rhode Island’s housing market has not yet hit the peak reached before the housing downturn, strong price gains are affecting affordability, particularly among first-time homebuyers.

“Last week, the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com released its Realtor Affordability Score for the month of March which listed Rhode Island among the states with the lowest housing affordability. Rhode Island’s population earning the median income could afford only 23 percent of the state’s active housing inventory for sale last month. Jobs and wages have increased but there’s no doubt that we also need additional properties on the market to help more people realize the dream of home ownership,” said Luca.

R.I.’s Housing Market Shows Strong Price Gains in First Quarter

Warwick, R.I. – April 25, 2018…The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reported that the median price of single-family home sales increased 9.7 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to $252,250. Nineteen hundred and thirty-eight (1938) homes sold last quarter, down from 1982 sales in the first quarter of last year. Single-family home sales activity fell or stayed the same year over year in all but 17 of the 40 districts measured.

The median sales price of multifamily properties also saw a significant increase. At $225,000, that sector’s median price was 25 percent higher than that seen in the first quarter of 2017. Sales activity also increased, rising 3 percent.

“There’s no doubt about it. Homeowners who decide to sell are seeing good profits because their equity rose substantially over the past few years,” said Joe Luca, 2018 president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. “When asked what the three most important words were in real estate, the answer most often given is ‘location, location, location.’ Now it could be argued that it could be ‘timing, timing, timing.’ The market is hot for sellers right now.”

The year also started off strong in the condominium market. The first quarter median sales price rose 7.7 percent to $210,000 and sales activity increased 7.3 percent.

Though R2018 first quarter housing markethode Island’s housing market has not yet hit the peak reached before the housing downturn, strong price gains are affecting affordability, particularly among first-time homebuyers.

“Last week, the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com released its Realtor Affordability Score for the month of March which listed Rhode Island among the states with the lowest housing affordability. Rhode Island’s population earning the median income could afford only 23 percent of the state’s active housing inventory for sale last month. Jobs and wages have increased but there’s no doubt that we also need additional properties on the market to help more people realize the dream of home ownership,” said Luca.

Courtesy of RILiving

NOT Owning Your Home Can Cost You a Lot of Money!

 

blog owning home financial benefits

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

 

Realtor.com recently reported that:

 

Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option… as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

 

1. In a previous blog we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership all
    ows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $44,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

To learn more about home ownership, call or email me anytime!
Jeannine Harrington
RI & CT Realtor®
#TheBrownGroupRealty
401-932-7844
Oceanstateliving.com
JeannineHarringtonHomes.com
#JeannineHarringtonHomes

Buying a Home is Like Finding a Soulmate

House-hunting and spouse-hunting are more similar than you might think…

The process is fraught with uncertainty, doubt and emotional upheaval. It is a journey filled with emotional minefields that can force even the most centered person to question who they are and what they want in life. It can ignite your hopes and enthusiasm — and shatter your confidence — all in one day. It forces you to put your heart on the line and bare your soul, and exposes you to the risk of rejection. You look around and see other people who have successfully navigated the journey and wonder how they did it. Did they have more money or better credentials? Were they less discriminating and more open-minded? Were they more decisive? Or were they just lucky?

If you have been through the process of buying a home, you likely have experienced the sentiments above. And if you’re single, like I am, you know that this is also an accurate description of the dating process.

The big difference, of course, is that your decision about what home to purchase is not a lifetime decision. You will stick with that decision for an average of 5-7 years. Your decision about whom to marry will — hopefully — last a lifetime. Putting that aside, the two journeys are more alike than you might think.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are 7 truths about the search for love and the search for real estate.

1. What you see online is not real. 

It can be fun and convenient to search from the comfort of your home, but the information presented online often raises our hopes with the promise of something that does not actually exist in real life. Nobody uploads a bad photograph. Online, people are younger and thinner, and apartments are larger. Every description or profile is ad copy. The only way to really know if a home or person is the right match for you is the old-fashioned way: face to face.

2. Quality inventory is limited.

On the surface, it may seem like there are a lot of options, but a closer examination reveals that quality inventory is limited. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of coal to find the diamonds.

3. You may need to compromise, but you must never settle.

Especially in New York City, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if only you had more money or better credentials, you could get everything you want. The truth is that even buyers with unlimited budgets compromise on something. The same is true in dating. The key to moving forward is to know what you value most, and refuse to settle on what’s really important.

4. “Perfect on Paper” doesn’t always mean “Works in Real Life.”

Sometimes, everything lines up on paper. The apartment seems to meet every criteria on my client’s wish list. The guy (or girl) sounds perfect. You schedule an in-person visit with your hopes high, only to discover that this is not what you wanted.

5. You’ll probably fall in love with something that is the opposite of what you’re looking for.

This is the corollary to #4, above. How many times have you heard about people who fell in love with a person or home that — on the surface — did not meet any of their criteria? I see it happen all the time with my clients, and it proves that the only way to know if something is really a match is to experience it in person.

6. You must be approved.

Even when both parties are committed, a lot of other people need to weigh in and approve the “deal” before it can move forward. New Yorkers love to complain about the rigors of the co-op and condo process. The application and interview to purchase in a building is invasive: the process puts your entire life — employment history, finances and social status — under a microscope. At least co-op and condo boards tell you what information they want. That’s more transparency than you receive from the friends and family of your soulmate, who will judge you on whatever criteria they decide is relevant.

7. You can’t control the timing.

There is no set amount of time that must pass between when you start looking and when you find your home or mate. It can happen on the first day or your search, or when you’re not even looking. Sometimes, we dismiss an option only to discover later that it was really what we wanted; we simply did not know it at the time or we weren’t yet ready for it.

And a bonus:

The ultimate decision about whether to move forward must be made from your heart.

Throw away your pro/con lists and your spreadsheets, and listen to your heart. It will steer you to the best investment every time.

What other similarities have you found between dating and real estate?

Written by Renee Fishman

South County is a treasure everyone wants.

As you may know, if you follow the real estate market in this area, the southern Rhode Island –South County, as we lovingly call it– market is very unique.
One of the commanding reasons is of course, the coast – the beaches – the shoreline, that we are so blessed to reside by.
Consider Westerly, a town as diverse in and of itself, as you can get.  A home south of Rt. 1 will sell for almost double what the same home in the north-end will sell for.
Why is that?
Well, we are special.  We all know this for more reasons than one.  But there is a bigger reason.  There is this imaginary corridor in the northeast – you know the one.  It’s the “hustle and bustle” corridor, as I like to call it.  There is a certain train that runs from one end to the other.  This corridor runs from Boston, diagonally through Hartford and most of CT, straight into New York City and south to Philadelphia and on to Washington, DC.  If you’ve ever driven it, you know what I mean!  Yikes.
Here you will find people, lots of people; major industry; Fortune 500 companies, and the folks who run them, and run them well.  There aren’t a lot of 40 hour work weeks in these areas.
The beauty of this craziness, is that it misses us completely.  And it shows!
Here in RI, especially South County, things move a little slower.  The weather warms, and we all try to sneak in some beach or boating time, even if it’s in the evening.  We spend more time outside.  We socialize more.  What’s better than a good game of corn hole between friends?
We have breweries and wineries a plenty.  Of course we do!
We walk through downtown and visit the dozens of great restaurants or stroll the park.  We cruise to Newport, just because.  We enjoy countless outdoor events where we and the family can relax and jam to some tunes (in the dunes), or recite the lines to a popular movie in the park.  (Still bummed that I missed The Princess Bride in the park).
And we smile more; a lot more.
Even in the colder months, we still have the relaxed vibe that summer gave us and we carry through to next spring.  And the park has some awesome sledding hills to get us by!
Now think about it.  If you were busting your hump all week or all winter even, and peace, tranquility and getting “away from it all,” was a short 2-4 hour drive, wouldn’t that be amazing?
What price would you pay for that?
It’s amazing for me to drive 20 minutes to the ocean.  There’s no doubt about that.
Those city folks hunted and hunted, and have found our treasure.  And when you pay north of one million dollars for a tiny apartment in Manhattan, $400,000 for a little beach cottage is a STEAL.
As a result, we deal with more traffic, more tourists and a busier area for a few months – which the merchants are more than fine with.  And which keeps some of our taxes down.
And we also deal with higher home prices.  The old law of supply and demand.  City folks demand beach cottages and the supply really is limited; especially this year.
Now this is all theory, but when you think about it, it’s not too far off.  I think it’s right on target.  And you know what?  I’m happy to be a part of the “chill” northeast.  We truly are blessed here in South County.
Enjoy this heatwave and please reach out anytime with any home buying or selling questions!  I’m here for you!