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Tips for Getting Your House Ready For Winter

by Tucker Robbins

As all of you know, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means that winter is basically here.  There are many things that must be done to get your house ready for winter.  If you properly prepare your house for winter, you and your family will be able to enjoy all that winter has to offer without worrying about getting cold inside.

  • house in snowHave someone out to your house to check your HVAC system  is a good idea.  You want to make sure you stay nice and cozy warm during the winter and that your heating system doesn’t go on the fritz during the coldest months of the year.  Typically you should have your HVAC system checked twice a year; right before summer and right before winter.
  • Go up into your attic to make sure you have adequate insulation.  This is especially important if you have just purchased a house.  If the home you have purchased is an older home you may have to add a bit more insulation or replace what has been there for years to get optimal benefit from it. It is currently recommended to have at least a 16 inch depth of blown insulation in the attic. Fiberglass bats should be between R-49 and R-60.
  • It’s also a good idea to have your duct work checked.  If the home you have just purchased had a lot of pet’s living inside previously you will likely have to have your duct worked cleaned so that your air system works properly.  You will also want to check for mold (especially if there is or you use a duct mounted humidifier) so that you and your family will be able to breathe easily. 
  • Purchase some draft dodgers for your doors and windows before winter starts.  You may be surprised at just how much cool air these crafty little things can keep out of your home and how much they can help with your heating bill.  You can purchase draft dodgers at most stores or you can even make them yourself with some fabric and beans. 
  • Pull your space heaters out of the attic and put them to use.  They will help a lot with your heating bill as well and can be used in whatever room you wish.
  • Winterize your outside faucets. Sometimes that means shutting the water line off inside and then opening the outside faucet to drain them. Newer designs are easier to winterize but no matter what the design is, NEVER leave a hose attached to the faucet in winter.
  • Once the leaves are down, either clean your gutters or have your gutters cleaned. Most landscaping companies will clean gutters at this time of year.
  • If you have a car that you don't use much, make sure to fully charge the battery. Batteries loose 1% of their charge every day and a battery with low charge can easily freeze - which ruins the battery.
  • If you feel you would like a recommendation of a local contractor/handyman to help with any of these chores, please feel free to call or email me, Tucker Robbins. (302) 777-7744 or Tucker@RobbinsRealEstate.com 

The days that the cold air starts to take the place of the much warmer days of fall are here.  Do your part to make sure your family stays warm this winter by getting your house ready for the cold months ahead.  I am sure your family will be happy you took the time to make sure they are comfortable and your home will be a much happier place as a result. 

Information courtesy of Wilmington Real Estate Expert Tucker Robbins.

The Secrets to Selling Your Home

by Tucker Robbins

In my 26 years as a full time real estate agent, I have found there are actually only a few secrets to selling your home. Whether you are working with an agent or selling the home yourself, the "rules" are universal. The major reasons why a home doesn't sell are:

1. Improper staging

2. Over priced

3. Poor Marketing

4. Location problems

5. Functional Obsolesence

6. Poor Negotiations

7. The area is just not selling

Improper Staging:

This has to do with addressing the cosmetic issues of a house. People have very little imagination when it comes to home purchases. Very frequently they will make decisions on how they will live in a house emotionally rather than objectively. A house that is not clean is a real turn off that most people would recognize. The surprising thing is so many people are reluctant to address problems that have huge paybacks. A gallon of Behr Premium Plus paint at Home Depot costs $32.98. The same paint correctly applied can bring $2000 - $3000 in sales price. Reasonable carpeting can be purchased for about $20/square yard. Remember that light and bright sells. Dark walls and trim make a home feel smaller.

All rooms should be returned to their original purpose, and make every room look like you use it. Placing current magazines on a coffee table in the loft is one way to show people that you really do use the room.

All rooms and closets need to be decluttered. Too many personal photos are distracting to buyers

Over Pricing

This is probably the most important item, as it takes all the others into account. Buyers will look at a home and compare it, in their mind, to the other homes on the market. If they feel the value is there, they will make an offer. If they feel the asking price is too high, they typically will not make an offer. Buyers really don't care what a seller's invested value is. All they see is the value to them. Any problem can be overcome by lowering the price.

Home owners have historically listed their homes with the real estate agent that gives them the highest price. Real Estate agents know this and many routinely promise a higher price than they know they can sell it for.

 

Should I Consider Turning my Home into an Investment Property

by Tucker Robbins

Frequently I'm asked "should I consider renting out my home"? Sometimes it's someone who has had the home on the market for several months and needs to move on. Sometimes it's someone who wants to sell for more money than the market is offering. Sometimes the reasons can be quite complex.

Question 1) How much equity do you have in the home and do you need that equity to be able to get a new property? Many times people who bought at the market peak could have little or no equity. Rather than write a check at settlement, or doing a short sale, renting out the home could be a valuable option

 

All About Home Warranties

by Tucker Robbins

Not to be confused with homeowner’s insurance, which covers the structure and contents of your  home, a warranty service contract is designed to cover systems and appliances that stop working due to normal usage.  Basic coverage generally includes the repair and replacement of major appliances such as heating/cooling system, water home warrantyheater, refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, etc.  Plumbing and electrical systems are also usually covered, and some companies include washer, drier, microwave, and roof maintenance in the basic tier.

Gaining in popularity with both buyers and sellers, warranty service contracts serve to reassure owners that they won’t face major repair/replacement costs.  Sellers use them to protect the home while it’s on the market and as an incentive to attract buyers.  Buyers rely on them to protect them from unexpected and expensive repairs.  Even Freddie Mac will offer a $500 home warranty credit to home buyers who purchase a qualified, foreclosed single-family home, townhouse, or condominium through their HomeSteps® division.

A warranty plan is fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $250 to $400, depending on coverage. The policy is prepaid for a year in advance, at which time it expires or can be renewed.  The usual procedure for service needs is as follows:

  • If a home system or appliance breaks or stops working, the home owner calls the home warranty company.
  • The home warranty company calls a provider with which it has a business arrangement.
  • The specific provider calls the home owner to make an appointment.
  • The provider fixes the problem. If an appliance is malfunctioning and cannot be repaired, depending on contract coverage, the home warranty company will pay to replace and install the appliance.
  • The home owner pays a small trade service fee (less than $100) for each service call.

Most home warranty companies offer a variety of plans, each providing different levels of coverage, so be sure to read the details of any contract before buying. If you choose to renew the contract from year-to-year, double-check the details of your plan each time since coverage can change annually.

According to the Service Contract Industry Council, 32 states require home warranty companies to register or obtain a license with that state's department of insurance and comply with applicable laws and financial standards. Membership lists are available at their website.

Information provided by Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

Why Buying a Home In the Fall Is a Good Idea

by Tucker Robbins

Next to spring, fall is the busiest real estate time of the year. Although you can buy and sell houses at any time, the fall real estate market offers certain benefits to home buyers, including year-end tax breaks, pleasant weather conditions for moving, wider selection of houses, and more. If you are shopping for a home during the fall and don't fall homewant to miss out on a great deal, it's a good idea to explore the possibility of pre-qualifying for a loan and to know what type of house you are looking for and what you can realistically afford to buy.

Who’s buying in the fall? According to an ERA survey, the fall buyer mix in the fall typically consists of:

  • First-time homebuyers : 27 percent
  • Move-up buyers: 20 percent
  • Buyers downsizing/retiring: 17 percent
  • Investors: 14 percent
  • Relocating military: 11 percent
  • Vacation home buyers : 6 percent
  • Other: 5 percent

Benefits of fall buying include the following:

  • End-of-the-year tax breaks: Come September and October, people are starting to think about what year-end tax breaks they may be eligible for. Fortunately for homebuyers, owning a home can yield great dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. Furthermore, if you have prepaid some interest before the due date of your first payment and you close your loan before the year's end, that amount will also be deducted.
  • Motivated sellers: Often sellers will opt to lower their price in the fall because they're afraid of trying to sell during the holidays. They also know that potential buyer traffic drops in the fall, so their prices (and most likely incentives) have to be competitive.
  • Low interest rates: With interest rates on 30-year mortgages dropping from 4.55 percent last July to 3.55 percent today, buyers who've been riding out the economic downturn and housing crisis should certainly consider making a move at this time.
  • Uninterrupted holidays: A fall home purchase will ensure that you will be comfortably ensconced in your new residence before the winter holidays, allowing you to enjoy family and friends without worrying about packing and moving.

Information provided by Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker 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)