Skip down to page content.

Real Estate Information

Wilmington Real Estate Blog

Tucker Robbins

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 273

Renovations and Your Homeowners Insurance

by Tucker Robbins


Making the decision to renovate any room in your home comes after a lot of thought and planning, but don’t forget that changes in your home can create changes in your homeowner’s
 insurance.  Whether the renovations lower or increase the payment depends on the job, so we’re going to look at how a remodel can affect your wallet: 

 

  • Additions:  Whenever you add square footage to your home, your policy will need to be upgraded, likely increasing your premium. 
     

  • Converted Space:  Turning your garage into a home theater or creating a master suite from your attic space may not require changes to the policy if the square footage is already covered, but as replacement value has changed, you will want to increase your coverage. 
     

  • Home System Upgrades: Improving electrical and plumbing systems can lower your premiums, as upgrading them can make your home safer from incidents relating to fire and leaky pipes. 
     

  • Pools:  Installing a pool or hot tub in your backyard will add to the replacement value of your home, and you’ll need to increase liability coverage to protect yourself in case of any accidents.
     

  • Roofing:  A new roof can lower your premium, especially if you upgrade it to the latest standards of protecting your home from natural disasters. 
     

  • Security Systems:  According to Safewise, adding a home security system could lower your homeowners premium by 20%.   
     

  • Solar Panels:  You will want to talk to your insurance agent before installing solar panels to your home.  They may require a separate policy, depending on how they are mounted, which would add to your budget.  
     

  • Upgrades:  Whether you use top-quality building materials for your renovation, upgrade the finishes in your home, or install state-of-the-art appliances in the kitchen, you’ll need to change your policy to reflect the replacement value. 

 

Making changes to your home improve your quality of life in many ways, but it may come at a cost.  Protecting your investment is worth it in the end, but you want to be prepared for anything that will add to your monthly budget. Schedule a meeting with your insurance agent before beginning any major changes in your home so you won’t be surprised when your payment increases. 

 

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

Photo credit: otipinsurance.com

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal in a Weekend!

by Tucker Robbins


Most home sellers work full time, and getting the house prepped to be put on the market can be a second full-time job, depending on their to-do list.  As most every seller knows, curb appeal is vital for a great first impression, and carving extra time is 
a luxury, but with these tips and ideas, it can go from zero to fabulous in a weekend! 

 

  • Cleaning Pressure wash the exterior siding, fencing, the porch floor, concrete walkway and driveway, and as dreadful as it may be, clean out gutters. 
     

  • Painting These exterior items may need paint:  front door, shutters, window sills, exterior trim, garage doors, porch floor and railings, mailbox and address numbers. 
     

  • Replace Lighting fixtures that are dated or weathered should be replaced, and put up new address numbers, or mailbox if paint doesn’t improve their appearance, and get a new welcome mat. 
     

  • Inspect Go around the house and look closely at exterior trim, shutters, and window sills.  Examine concrete for damage, and make sure walkway pavers are stable and in perfect condition.  Make certain that all landscape lighting or irrigation systems are in working order. 
     

  • Lawn Care Not only should the lawn be mowed but using an edge trimmer to neaten up the walkways, driveway and planting beds makes a big difference.  Seed any dead areas of the lawn. 
     
     

  • Landscaping Weed flower beds, add seasonal easy-care plantings (annuals are best for season-long blooms!) and new mulch.  If a tree needs more than minor pruning, call a tree specialist. 
     

  • Decorative Remove personal yard flags, add some potted plants on the porch, highlight a shady spot with a simple outdoor bench and a few plants, and clean up outdoor furniture cushions or replace them. 

 

Much like the interior of the home, the outside should be clean, in working order, and clutter-free.  Before you get outside, go online and search recently sold homes in your market for some curb appeal inspiration, then put in a weekend’s time, and get that house sold!  

 

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

Photo credit: hometips.com

Collections and Home Decor

by Tucker Robbins


A collection of antique furniture is easily incorporated into your home’s decor.  But what if you collect memorabilia from a favorite movie, vintage kitchenware, or clown figurines?  No need to cram everything into one room on shelves along one wall (though that can make an impact for some collectibles).  Let’s look at some ways you can show off your prized possessions:
 

 

  • - Consider displaying a few pieces at a time in a prominent place in your home:  mantel, a buffet or sideboard, or coffee table.  Keep the others stored safely away and switch them out every few months. 

  • - Vintage or antique glass items should be displayed near natural light so they will sparkle.  Open shelves on a wall opposite a sunny window will show off these treasures in a dramatic way. 

  • - An art collection doesn’t have to be displayed as a gallery wall;  negative space is very appealing, and the St. Mawes Gallery shares some tips on how to make your pieces stand out. 

  • - Make a collection of items on built-in shelves stand out by painting the insides of the shelves a complementary or contrasting color, especially if the items are the same color, or in the same color family. 

  • - Small items can be tucked away on a corner shelf, adding interest in a smaller room where there isn’t a lot of space.   

  • - Plate collectors don’t always display them in cabinets with glass doors; purchase plate hangers that will hold them securely to a wall and create an artful display on a dining room wall or over the soffits in the kitchen. 

  • - Collecting quilts or other textiles can create a dilemma, because just leaving them folded on a shelf doesn’t always do them justice.  Displaying them on a wall can be done with a little work, and they can be changed out to avoid any damage from the sun.  Check out these quilt-hanging ideas from Suzy Quilts. 

  • - Shadow boxes are inexpensive ways to display several small things at once, especially vintage toys!  If the items are made of plastic, you can place them all in the frame in a jumble, making it a fun conversation piece, sending people on a toy hunt. 

  • - Can’t get rid of those vinyl LP’s from high school?  Don’t keep them in a box--album frames are available from most craft stores and online, and you can take your favorites and display them as the art that only album covers can be! 

 

A collection doesn’t have to look like a hoard or be piled up in a jumble--treat them like treasures and decor items.  Learn some designer tips from Veranda magazine for displaying your prized possessions, and turn your treasures into a photo-worthy display! 

 

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

Photo credit: pinterest

Home Projects By Seasons

by Tucker Robbins


Thinking about doing some home improvements?  Whether it’s a kitchen or bathroom remodel, a whole-house painting, or floor refinishing, there’s a time of year when these jobs are easier to get completed, mainly because of how the weather affects not only c
onstruction, but the quality of the finished product as well.  Find the project you’re considering, and see when it’ll be the right time to get to work:  

 

Additions, because of needing a new foundation, could be started in late Winter/early Spring when the ground is still cold and more compact.  It makes for better digging and concrete pouring and setup. 
 

Exterior door replacement would be convenient any time except Winter, just in case there are any issues and the doors aren’t a quick switch. 
 

Exterior painting, for many reasons, is a better idea in early to late Summer, when temperatures are above fifty degrees. 
 

HVAC work, in non-emergency situations, should be done in the off seasons--new heater in warm months, air conditioning before it’s sweltering outside. 
 

Interior remodeling like kitchen and bathroom redo’s, can be done practically any time.  The main thing to keep in mind here is warm months are busier for contractors, and that can mean a job done in a hurry, or higher prices. 
 

Outdoor projects, even though a popular time for construction is the warmer months, should be started in late Winter, simply because you want to be able to spend your Summer enjoying your new outdoor space! 
 

Refinishing hardwoods is probably best completed during the times of year when humidity is low for the best finish, and so windows can be opened to allow air circulation to help get rid of any associated odors. 
 

Roofing, believe it or not, may get better results in hot months of the year, as the most common materials used will need warm temps for the best performance. 
 

Window repair/replacement is managed well during warm months or when frequent rain isn’t a factor. 
 

Keep in mind that Spring and Summer are busiest time for contractors.  If you are hiring your job out, the process should be started long enough in advance that you don’t have to be put on a wait list.  On that same note, during slower months, a contractor may give you a deal on the work, because there aren’t other jobs to be done, and you get their full attention!  Planning is key for a smooth finish on any project, any time of year. 

 

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

Photo credit: readers digest

Open House Etiquette

by Tucker Robbins


The house you’ve had your eye on has advertised an Open House, and though you haven’t started your official house hunt, you’re dying to see it.  If you’ve never been to an open house, there are a few things you need to know before you visit--you want to ma
ke as good an impression as the house! 

 

  • - Dress casually, and maybe even wear slip-on shoes, as some homeowners prefer guests to remove their shoes.  

  • - Be on time (maybe even early so you can be the first ones there):  unless there’s an absolute emergency, you don’t want to get there when lots of others are in attendance, nor do you want to get there as the agent is locking up to go home. 

  • - Let yourself in!  An agent may greet you at the door, or they may be waiting for visitors in a central room.  Remember that different agents have a different method, so be prepared for a self-tour, or an agent who would like to give you a tour. 

  • - Signing in is sometimes optional, but some homeowners require it for their protection, and if you’re ready to start looking for a home, the attending agent can have your contact information so you can talk with them about your needs. 

  • - If you already have a buyer’s agent, the polite thing to do would be to let the attending agent know who your agent is. 

  • - While others are looking around, wait until they’re out of a room before you go in, giving them space and privacy. 

  • - Most houses on the market don’t have closed access, but if you come to a closed door at an open house, ask the broker if it’s okay to go in and look around.  Sometimes another guest has mistakenly closed a door. 

  • - At the same time, don’t open medicine cabinets or anything else that could have the seller’s sensitive personal items, and make sure it’s okay to check out closet space before you go into the bedrooms. 

  • - Only take photos with permission.  Most of what you need to know is already provided in the open house flyer and online. 

 

Take the brochure or flyer the agent has available and take notes on it as you tour the house. Once you’re finished with the walkthrough, stop and ask the agent any questions you may have about the house, and write those answers down. This is especially helpful if you’ve taken a day to visit several houses and will make any discussions with your significant other or your agent much easier. 

 

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

Photo credit: lightersideofrealestate.com

Ready to Sell Your New Castle County DE Home?

by Tucker Robbins


Whatever the reason behind the desire to sell your home, it’s not as simple as hiring an agent to put up a For Sale sign in the front yard.  If you want a successful sale, there are things you need to know and do!  Follow these tips for smooth sale-ing:
 

 

  • - Do a bit of local research and choose at least three real estate agents to meet with and interview to find the best agent for you and your home’s sale.  

  • - Gather every bit of “official” information about the house and property:  major appliance and home system ages, dates and permits for any renovations or additions made to the house, warranty paperwork that still applies for any part of your house, including the roof, and any information about your mortgage, if you still have one. 

  • - Be open to fully trusting your agent about when to list the house, as well as pricing.  Selling homes is their business, and they know about the market, what homes in your area are selling for, as well as knowing buyers who are ready to purchase a new home. 

  • - Emotionally speaking, you have to “check out” of your home.  You must step back and begin to look at it as a house, and someone else’s future home. 

  • - Familiarize yourself for what you will need as a seller at closing, so everything will be in order when the time comes. 

  • - Get ready for some work!  Your house needs to be thoroughly cleaned, decluttered, depersonalized and may need some cosmetic work, such as painting, new carpet, or fresh landscaping.  Remember that first impressions are important when it comes to selling your house. 

  • - Do you plan to move before the house is sold?  If so, you need to add the cost of staging to your budget, because you want potential buyers to see it as a home, and not an empty shell. 

  • - Realize that your family’s schedule will be interrupted during the showing process.  The more home-seekers who come through your door, the more your chances are of selling.   

  • - Having a pre-sale inspection done on the house is a wise decision to make.  Once it’s complete, make sure you address any problems the inspector finds, or discuss your options with your RealtorⓇ, such as lowering your asking price, or offering a repair credit. 

  • - Before making any upgrades in your house, such as installing a steam shower to the master bath, or integrating smart home features, talk with your agent to make sure they will be worth it in the end.  They will know what is desirable in homes in your market, and it could save you a bundle. 

 

Last of all, be patient; unless you get lucky with a quick offer, houses can take a while to sell, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Talk to your RealtorⓇ about the ins and outs of selling--they’ve usually been involved in every situation imaginable.   

 

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

Photo credit: mortgage.info

Workshops for First Time Homebuyers

by Tucker Robbins


That’s right--classes for home buyers!  If you’re just starting out on your home-purchase process, you may get overwhelmed when you find out all that’s involved.  Sadly, it’s not as easy as finding a house, paying for it, then moving in.  It’s a great idea
 to learn all you can about the process as well as being a homeowner. 

 

  • - Don’t wait until you’ve found a house you want to purchase before signing up!  Find a course that will help you learn the ropes from house-hunting to closing so you’ll feel confident when you contact a Realtor to begin your search. 

  • - Credit counseling is best done about six months before you start looking at homes, so you can learn about improving your credit score, as well as creating a budget and sticking to it.  You want the highest credit score possible so you can receive pre-approval for a mortgage. 

  • - Don’t have enough saved for a 20% down payment?  A workshop will help you find a program that will assist you with finding low down payment programs, as well as if there are any grants available in your community. 

  • - HUD-approved counseling agencies usually offer one-on-one sessions so you can get a better understanding of your own personal financial situation, as well as answer any specific questions you may have. 

  • - Many workshops have more than one “instructor;” you will hear from lenders, appraisers, inspectors, and insurance agents that will discuss their roles in the home-buying process. 

 

When dreaming of buying your own home, don’t let all of the information overwhelm you and keep you from even trying! If you are pressed for time with work and family, online course may be for you!  All it takes is this first step, and you’ll find that a home-buyer course will show you won’t be alone on the road to home ownership.   

 

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

Photo credit: solitashouse.com

What To Do With Old Devices?

by Tucker Robbins


If you’re like many people this time of year who are cleaning out or following the new “simplify” craze, you’ve come across a drawer filled with old cell phones and devices.  Don’t throw these devices in the trash--they’re bad for the environment.  They can be put to good use, whether by yourself or someone else!  Just make sure you reset the device settings to the factory settings.  If you’re not sure how, 
DealNews has a guide to help you with that.  Now let’s see what we can do with these unused gadgets! 

 

  • - Recycling could be the easiest thing for you.  Get all of the devices in a box, and either call your local waste management to see where you can drop them off, or go to the Sustainable Electronics website, and click your area on the interactive map, and it shows you where you can send or drop off your items. 

  • American Cell Phone Drive is an organization that helps raise funds for thousands of organizations worldwide.  Follow the link, type in your zip code, and it will direct you to local places that will gladly accept your old cell phones. 

  • - Many large electronics retailers, online and brick-and-mortar, will accept your outdated gadgets for recycling, as well as the device manufacturers.  In some cases, they will purchase newer items (usually less than three years old) and put the amount on the retailer’s gift card.  A quick search online will help with finding what stores will buy from you. 

  • - Organizations such as domestic violence centers, daycares, schools and veterans’ associations are just a few places that may take the donation where it can be used for education or for emergencies.  Call and speak with whoever is in charge to find out if they can use what you cannot. 

  • - You can always sell your devices, the newer the better, and put a bit of cash in your pocket, or donate the proceeds.  Social media is full of local “yard sale” pages where you can post items for free or use an online auction site to sell your goods for a fee. 

  • - A laptop or computer tower takes a little more work to erase all sensitive information from, but these can be donated or recycled as well.   

  • - If the computer still works, call a local school, senior center, homeless shelter or youth program to see if they can use it.  Many will gladly take a free computer. 

  • - Do an online search to see if any local retailers or recycle centers will accept your laptop or computer, and when you call, make sure they can recycle laptop batteries, too.  In some cases, the lithium-ion batteries must be recycled separately. 

 

Not only will you be paring down your clutter, but you can help someone in need or simply keep dangerous metals from the environment when you recycle or donate your unused devices.  Help yourself and someone else while you’re purging the junk! 

 

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

 

Photo credit: digitaltrends 

Should You Use Your Home Equity

by Tucker Robbins


If you have a good amount of equity in your home, and would like to make some home improvements, or need money to help you pay for a child’s college tuition, you may be considering using the equity in your home to help pay for these things.  Let’s look at 
the difference between the two so you can make the right decision before you sign on the dotted line. 

 

Home Equity Loan 

  • - Basically speaking, a home equity loan is a second mortgage on your home, which is used as collateral by the lender.  

  • - The lender usually bases the loan amount on the difference between the homeowner's equity and the home's current market value.  Investopedia can help you determine how much equity you have in your home. 

  • - Most lenders allow homeowners to borrow up to 85% of the home’s total value, but only based on what portion you actually “own.” If you haven’t finished paying your original mortgage off, your equity will be less than someone who has paid off their home loan. 

  • - A home equity loan will be paid as a lump sum and comes with a fixed interest rate. You will know how much you must pay every month, in addition to your current mortgage payment. 

  • - Just like the initial purchase of the house, your credit needs to be in good standing, so have all your financial records in order when you meet with your lender. 

 

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) 

  • - HELOC’s are a second mortgage as well, but instead of a lump sum, the homeowner typically has a five-to-ten-year “draw” period where they have access to the amount of the credit. 

  • - During the draw period, some lenders allow interest-only payments on the amount, while some require principle-plus-interest payments. Either way, pay more than the minimum so the principal can be paid off before the repayment period. 

  • - Once the draw period is over, repayment of what credit you have used will begin.  Keep in mind that these payments will be higher than the earlier amounts you’ve been paying. 

  • - Your line of credit can be used for anything, but if you’re thinking about an island getaway, or some other non-essential purchase, you are better off starting a savings fund.  If you can’t meet the payments once the draw period is over, you could lose your home to foreclosure.  

  • - In some cases, a lender will close your line of credit early if your circumstances change.  If you’re using that money to pay your child’s college tuition, you’ll no longer have access to it, creating financial strain. 

 

Before deciding to use either of these types of credit, find out if using the equity in your home is the right way to go.  If you’re already having a hard time paying the bills, a home equity loan or HELOC will only put your further in debt.  Contact a HUD-certified financial counselor to help you get your debt and other financial matters under control. 

 

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

Photo credit: washingtonpost.com

Protecting Yourself From Moving Scams

by Tucker Robbins


It appears
 every week, we’re reading about a new scam to be watchful for, and sadly, moving scams are out there.  Some news reports have shown interviews with families who have never found their belongings months after a move!  Protect yourself by keeping these tips in mind when hiring movers: 

 

  • - Reputable moving companies charge a fee based on weight, along with their base fee.  If you’ve talked with someone who has given you a basic price without coming to your home to estimate, or who doesn’t look at everything you have, they may throw an extra fee on your balance before they’ll move your items into the new home. 

  • - If the movers ask for a deposit, find another company.  Paying money up front takes away your control over having your belongings delivered where and when you want them.   

  • - Before you or the movers start packing, take a written inventory of your things, and take photos of fragile, expensive, or irreplaceable items. 

  • - Get a contract, go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and once it’s signed, make your own copy so you won’t have and edited version with added charges once it’s time to deliver to the new home. 

  • - If you’re moving to another state, movers are required to give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” according to the Office of Inspector General. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t offer it to you, ask for it, and if they don’t have it, find another mover. 

  • - Once things are packed, number your boxes and list them on your inventory, and once you’re moved in, unpack or at least look in every single box.  Your time for filing damages is limited, and the sooner you get that done, the better. 

  • - Most mover’s insurance only covers damage to items that they packed.  If you insist on packing some things yourself, take them with you in your vehicle or rental. 

  • - Stumped on finding a reputable company?  Head over to the American Moving and Storage Association’s website, where it’s easier to find a mover in your area. 

 

Remember, your RealtorⓇ knows all about the ins and outs of moving and can help you locate a good company who will take care of your worldly goods and treat you right. 

 

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

Photo credit: fewmoves.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 273

Quick Search

Contact Information

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