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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 238

Getting the Best Home Inspection in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

Whether your offer on an older home has been accepted, or you’re buying brand-new construction, it’s highly recommended that you have the house inspected.  Yes, it’s an added expense to the home-buying process, but it could save you money and heartache in the end.  Get the most out of the inspection by following these tips: 

 

  • - Ask your RealtorⓇ for a list of qualified inspectors in the area.  Be sure to check reviews, and ask other recent home buyers for recommendations. 

  • - Call at least three different inspectors for price, experience, and whether your state requires a license and bonding or not, ask about these anyway.  A top certification they could have is one by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). 

  • - Once you choose an inspector, choose a date for the inspection when you can accompany them.  If they have a problem with you being there, find another inspector. 

  • - Ask the seller if you can go in the house on your own before the official inspection to get an idea of the condition of the property for your own satisfaction.  Popular Mechanics offers a thorough list of things to look for in your new prospective home. 

  • - While you’re in the house, look for cosmetic things like paint and patching that could be covering bigger issues. 

  • - The inspector will have a process of their own, complete with checklist, but make one for yourself so you can have a record of your own for issues they show you as you walk through the house. 

  • - Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the inspection--a reputable inspector welcomes questions, plus, you’re paying them for their knowledge.  Getting answers before you get their final report will help you understand it better. 

  • - If you’re not quite sure of how to change the hot water heater temperature, how to work the circuit breaker box, or where the water shut-off is, the inspector can help you become more familiar and knowledgeable about the house.  Use your smartphone to take photos and video as they give you a how-to lesson, so you’ll have it in case you need it. 

 

Once you get your report, go over it carefully.  If there are major repairs that need to be made, ask the seller to make the repairs or offer you a credit or reduction in selling price.  Being as knowledgeable as you can be during this process can mean more money saved.  Just be sure to hire a good inspector, and stay involved in the process. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: drakeshomeins.com 

Adding Value or Not?

by Tucker Robbins

Almost every homeowner has some upgrades or small projects on their to-do list, from installing new gutters to new landscaping.  What they aren’t always thinking is if the next small project will add value to their home.  Not every home improvement increases the value of a property, whether they’re a necessity or not.  
 

  • Roofing While a new roof looks great, it is considered a maintenance issue, so unless your roof needs replacing, or you have damaged shingles, this job rarely adds value.  On the other hand, depending on where you live, a metal roof can add some value to your home, lower your homeowner’s insurance premiums, and may save on the electric bill. 

  • Landscaping Keeping your yard trim and weed-free doesn’t decrease or increase your home’s value, and some landscaping certainly helps if you’re trying to sell. Adding a small fish pond with waterfall, however, isn’t necessarily going to add to add value.   

  • Electric/Plumbing In older homes, an upgrade here is something that’s necessary, and even if you used top-of-the-line products and the most expensive plumbers and electricians in the area, it won’t add value. 

  • Swimming Pool Putting in a pool is simply a personal choice--you have it done because you want to enjoy some refreshment and relaxation on a hot day.  Rarely does an added pool or spa put money in your pocket if you sell. 

  • High-End Upgrades In order for upgrades to add resale value, they must be consistent.  Don’t add imported tile to one bathroom, and then leave vinyl and Formica in the half bath.  

  • HVAC A new A/C unit or heating system is another maintenance item, and though someone looking for a home may find some relief in knowing that there’s a brand-new unit attached to the home, they’re not going to pay more for it because it’s new. 

  • Carpet If you’re thinking about installing new carpet to prep your house for the market, talk to your RealtorⓇ.  Going to the expense of new carpeting may be less desirable to house-hunters in your area.  If you want to make that money back, then consider another type of flooring for your house. 

 

These items don’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t have them done, but it does mean that you likely won’t get the extra money they cost back in case you sell your home.  What it will help is the home sale itself--someone on the search for a new house will be more likely to purchase a home that has a new roof or new flooring.  Nolo.com has some excellent information on what will add value to your home, as well as some other home improvement tips.  When in doubt, do some research, and give your RealtorⓇ a call, as they know exactly what you need to do to get the most out of your house. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: NationalCashOffer.com

Back-to-School Routine

by Tucker Robbins

In most parts of the US this time of year, there is a lot of groaning by kids who are heading back to school, and some parents as well, because they dread the busyness of the school being in session.  Take the dread out by getting organized and staying organized so that it becomes a routine for you and your kids. 
 

  • - With sales and coupons abounding at every store this time of year, we usually end up with more school supplies than we need.  Have a dedicated storage spot for everything for easy access when it’s time to replenish.  Donating some of those extra supplies to the school or organization who help kids in need is a good thing, too. 

  • - If your school requires uniforms, go through old ones, and if they’re not worn or stained, take them to your school office so other students have a change of clothing in case of spills or accidents.  

  • - Getting ready for school begins the night before.  Set a bedtime, get a good routine going, and stick to it.  It can help reset your child’s body clock so that even when things get busy, they’ll be ready for sleep at their set time. 

  • - Even if they haven’t yet learned to tell time, get your child an alarm clock.  Set the alarm and help them be responsible for getting themselves up.   

  • - Have all their school clothes for the week hanging on a wreath hanger on the back of their bedroom or closet door or folded on their dresser.  This way, they can decide what to wear each day without staring at a closetful of clothes. 

  • - Let the kids pitch in with lunch prep.  Have their lunchboxes, storage containers, plastic bags and drink containers all in one easily-accessed spot in a kitchen cabinet. Good Housekeeping has a video with some great tips for packing up lunches. 

  • - Breakfast on the go can be so much more than a toaster pastry and juice box.  Mique from Thirty Handmade Days has compiled a list of links of 31 healthy make-ahead meals that kids will love! 

  • - Whether you have a mudroom or not, place some baskets or totes near the door for shoes, bookbags and sports bags.  It certainly helps with “I can’t find…” when it’s time to get them out the door. 

  • - After-school routines can vary, with extracurricular activities, sports, and lessons.  Keep a white board in a prominent place and have everyone’s schedule listed by days of the week.  Have the kids go over their schedule the night before so they’ll be prepared for their activities the next day. 

  • - Sometimes children come home from school and can’t wait till dinner and want to eat a full meal.  Have some snack bags of sliced fruit or veggies keeping cold in the fridge.  Add some fruit dip or ranch, and they’ll have a yummy snack that will tide them over until meal time. 

 

Getting in a routine doesn’t mean there won’t be mishaps or struggles or lost socks.  Go with the flow and remind the kids of the importance of putting things in their place or having things ready to go.  When they see you getting things ready beforehand, they’ll pick up your habits, get used to it, and it will soon be second nature.   

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: 01 Insurance

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For August 2018

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle County DE active listings are down 21% from last year and did not change from the previous month. The median listing price was just under $270,000 and the median sales price was just under $230,000. Compared to last year, the average days on market is down 19%. The number of units sold was consistent year-over-year and decreased 14% month-over-month. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

For Sale and Secure in New Castle County, DE

by Tucker Robbins

Sometimes it’s necessary to leave your old home before it sells, and even if it’s in a safe community, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the home and its components are secure.  Criminals are pretty savvy these days, and you don’t want your home compromised, especially when potential buyers are there for a showing. 

 

  • - First and foremost, make sure all your doors and windows are locked.  Most of those who are looking for easy access will find it.  They don’t care to draw attention to themselves by smashing windows and creating a lot of noise. 

  • - Check with your insurance agent and make sure you’re covered properly for a vacant house. 

  • - Talk to your RealtorⓇ about the lockbox that will be placed on your entryway.  Make certain it’s electronic, because the agent can not only get in without a key, but can keep track of who’s used the lockbox to enter, and when. 

  • - If you don’t already, have motion sensor floodlights installed around the perimeter of your home.  This will help deter anyone who is creeping around after dark. 

  • - Ask a relative, trusted neighbor or hire someone with good references to keep an eye on things, especially if you’ve moved more than a short drive away.   If you have a neighbor whose driveway is close by, ask if they would be willing to use your driveway to park in. 

  • - The landscaping should be maintained to keep any suspicion that you’re not there, and it should be taken care of by a reputable landscaper.  Your RealtorⓇ should be able to help you find someone for this job.   

  • - Secure outdoor components--your light fixtures and even the HVAC unit can be stolen, and it’s not as uncommon as you’d think. The light fixtures can be motion-detection activated, and the HVAC unit circuit box can be locked, and make it more difficult to get to with fencing or a security cage. 

  • - A home security system is now more affordable than ever, and you don’t have to pay a monthly service fee to a company. Do some online research and find a system that connects wirelessly and has a coordinating smartphone app.  You can keep an eye on things yourself, and if there’s anything suspicious, call your contact and ask them to check your house for you.   

 

The cost of keeping your electricity and Wi-Fi connected to the vacant house can’t compare to the peace of mind and protection it can offer while selling your home.  That doesn’t count the money you would save from repairs for damage or stolen items to be replaced.  Protect your investment by protecting your vacant house while it waits for new owners. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: protecsecuritysystems.com

Home-Buying After Foreclosure or Bankruptcy

by Tucker Robbins

If foreclosure or bankruptcy has been part of your past, and you’re ready to jump back into buying a new home, welcome to the “boomerang buyer” club!  There are several factors to buying a home after these losses, so before you start house-hunting, make sure you’re not only emotionally ready, but financially ready! 

 

  • - Be absolute certain your credit has been rebuilt by paying all your bills on time and in full. Check your credit score, and keep an eye on it.  Aiming for a minimum score of 580 improves your chances of qualifying for a home loan. 

  • - Get every penny you can into savings! 

  • - Consider taking a course in financial management.  Not only does this help you become more financially stable, it shows a lender that you’re serious about it. 

  • - If your last home went into foreclosure, there are waiting periods for applying for a mortgage: three years for FHA loans, seven years for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loans, two years for Veterans Affairs loans, three years for USDA loans, and other lenders have different waiting periods. 

  • - Buying a home after bankruptcy depends on what type of bankruptcy was filed, so there are different factors when it comes to each situation. 

  • - If you have experienced a short sale with your last home, depending on the lender, the waiting period to apply for a mortgage is two-seven years. 

  • - Some lenders may ask you to write a letter explaining the circumstances for the foreclosure or short sale, as well as what you learned during the process.   

  • - Extenuating circumstances that caused a foreclosure or bankruptcy, such as a major illness or job loss can make a difference in how long you must wait to apply for a mortgage, depending on the lender.  Be prepared with any paperwork that shows your loss of income or increase of debt. 

 

Before you begin this second chance on homeownership, talk to a RealtorⓇ who is experienced with assisting those who have experienced financial hardship and lost a home in the past.  They have a wealth of knowledge to help you every step of the way on the path to a fresh start! 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: homes.com

Budget Bathroom Updates

by Tucker Robbins

You love your new home--everything about it.  Well, almost everything.  Your bathroom decor is stuck in 1983 with its gingko leaf-etched shower doors, mauve and Colonial blue wallpaper complete with coordinating border, and ornamented brass fixtures.  If a complete overhaul isn’t in your budget just yet, there are plenty of options that are easy on the wallet.  Check out these tips for inspiration! 

 

  • - Paint over the wallpaper!  Benjamin Moore suggests you start by sealing any peeling spots with adhesive, applying clear caulking around the room where the wallpaper meets the ceiling and floor, then priming the wallpaper with an oil-based primer.  Using your choice of latex interior paint, paint as you would any other wall surface.   

  • - Switching out the dated sink fixtures is as simple as finding the correct pieces to go into the configuration for the existing fixture in a style you like.  Once you’ve made your decision, confident do-it-yourselfers can switch them out themselves, and Home Depot shares this step-by-step video how-to for sink faucet installation. 

  • - Updating your light fixture can be a huge improvement, and the choices are almost endless at local home stores.  Changing the location of the light, or adding wall sconces may require a call to a reputable electrician, so don’t forget to budget those extra costs. 

  • - Ugly linoleum can be covered with adhesive-backed vinyl tile or painted with porch paint, and if you’re feeling creative, you can have a custom look likthis striped floor from 1915 House. Supplies may cost a bit more than other paint jobs, but it beats the expense of replacing the flooring. 

  • - Replacing the cabinet can be expensive between the new cabinet and labor, so the best way to improve it is to paint it and add new hardware.  Countertops, depending on what material they are, can be painted or even tiled for a fresh look. 

  • - Add style to a plain mounted mirror with a frame! Framing kits come with everything you need for this quick update, and are available at home centers and online for less than $100. 

  • - If your budget is tight, just the purchase of a new shower curtain, window treatment, inexpensive framed prints, and one nice coordinating towel set can make a huge improvement to your dated bathroom.   

 

According to homeadvisor.com, the average bathroom remodel costs about $10,000.  If your new home needs updates, choose what you’ll do first according to your budget.  Tiding over with a few inexpensive updates to your bathroom will ease the anxiety of getting it done sooner, because it will be more pleasing to the eye.  Save yourself some stress and money by holding out just a little longer, and when it’s time, you’ll have the perfect bathroom! 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: StateFarm

Selling Your Home vs. Renting in New Castle County, DE

by Tucker Robbins

Accepting a new job, moving closer to aging parents, or looking for a fresh start, you’ve decided to relocate. You haven’t chosen a real estate agent to get your house sold, because you’re considering using your house for extra income as a rental.  There are pros and cons to becoming a landlord, so look through these tips to get you started on making the decision. 

 

  • - You need to first look at the financial aspect of renting your house. 

  • - Landlord’s insurance premiums may cost more than your homeowner’s insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about the differences in these policies. 

  • - Do the math--if you have a loss after all your expenses (insurance, repairs, property taxes, etc.) are deducted from the rental payments, it’s a better idea to sell. 

  • - If the money that a home sale would generate will help you buy a new place, by all means, sell. 

  • - One factor to consider is that if your move is temporary--you know you’ll be returning in a few years, and it may be a good idea to lease while you’re away, so you won’t have to house hunt upon your return. 

  • - Take into consideration that in larger areas, there may be times of a vacancy.  Can you handle the old mortgage and the new?  If not, put the house on the market. 

  • - If there are improvements that need to be done to the home before you can sell it, and you’re not financially able to make them, then renting may be a good option.   

  • - Keep in mind that most tenants will not care for your house like you, and, after moving, it could be at a great cost when you have to make the repairs.   

  • - Things can happen, and you may get tenants that can’t pay the rent on time, or stop paying rent, and you’re stuck with the mortgage payment, as well as having to go through the eviction process.  

  • - Do you really want to become a landlord?  Talk to a few people who are experienced in renting and leasing property, writing down questions to ask, and get their thoughts on the process. Experience is the best teacher. 

 

Renting or leasing your home is a big decision to make, especially if you know you may be coming back.  The stress of renting just might be greater than house-hunting when you move back.  Talk to other property managers in your area and look at your financial information before you make the final choice. When you decide to sell, call a trusted RealtorⓇ. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: homevestors.com

Ready to Buy a Home?

by Tucker Robbins

Buying a home is likely the largest investment you will ever make.  There is plenty of preparation before you start house-hunting, so make the process as smooth as possible with this guide to buying a home. 

 

  • - We can’t say it enough:  mind your credit!  Unless you have the funds to pay for a house in cash, then you need to keep an eye on your credit. Get a report from all three credit reporting agencies from the Annual Credit Report website. 

  • - Know what you can afford.  Make a budget and stick to it, recording everything on paper or using budgeting software.  Once you see where your money is going, it’s easier to cut some unnecessary things to put towards your down payment. 

  • - That said, start saving now, not only for your down payment, but any other expenses associated with a home purchase:  inspections, closing costs, and taxes are a few to expect. 

  • - Once you are close to having all of your down payment, start shopping for the best mortgages, and get pre-approved.  Being pre-qualified is great, but it’s not much help if you’re not approved for the loan. 

  • - Be ready to compromise on certain home aspects:  square footage, having to make minor repairs, or even living on a busy street.  If the price is right, the house fits your needs and wants, then put the it on your possibilities list. 

  • - Just because you’re approved for a certain home loan amount doesn’t mean you have to max that budget.  You need as much leeway in your finances for emergencies and unexpected costs. 

  • - Prepare yourself for possible let-downs:  some perfect-for-you homes are also perfect for others who are on the search for a new house.  If there are several offers on a house, you may have to walk away from it and keep hunting. 

  • - Don’t go through it alone!  Find a Realtor that you trust and like.  These real estate professionals are your ultimate guide through the home-buying process, and will make it so much easier for you.   

 

The house-buying process for most Americans takes a bit longer than what we see on the home-buying television shows. It takes planning and patience to find what you need and want.  So, do your “home” work, and you’ll soon be on your way to being homeowners! 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Photo credit: Realtor.com 

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For July 2018

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle County DE active listings are down 23% from last year and did not change from the previous month. The median listing price was just over $270,000 and the median sales price was just over $240,000. Compared to last year, the average days on market is down 14%. The number of units sold decreased 2% year-over-year and increased 15% month-over-month. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

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Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)