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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 277

Understanding Your Home Appraisal

by Tucker Robbins


During the selling/buying process, after the purchase agreement contract is signed, lenders order a home appraisal.  They want to be sure that the property is worth the mortgage they are getting ready to issue to the buyer, or in case of refinancing,
 the owner.  An appraisal is different from the home inspection, which should have already taken place.   

 

  • - The lender typically schedules the appraisal with a licensed professional, who contacts the homeowner to schedule a time.  Some appraisers don’t mind the owner being present, but usually work alone. 
     

  • - Sellers should have a few things readily available:  recent tax information, property survey, a list of what is being sold with the house, any addition construction information, including cost and construction date. 
     

  • - The assessment can begin before the appraiser even steps onto the property, as they do market information about the house, as well as research comparable sales in the neighborhood, much like the listing agent did for setting the price for the house. 
     

  • - Like someone viewing the house for purchase, the appraiser takes in the exterior appearance, curb appeal, looks for upgrades or additions, as well as the appearance of surrounding homes. 

  • The appraiser takes note of how many rooms are in the house, as well as size, building materials and finishes. 
     

  • - Condition of everything is taken into consideration, including the foundation, exterior finishes, wear on flooring, what shape the windows are in, and all home systems. 
     

  • - The appraiser will also access the basement, attic and crawlspace to check for water or insect damage. 
     

  • - Most of the time, the appraisal fee is set in the loan agreement, but in case it is not, the buyer pays the fee in the closing costs. 

 

Although the actual property inspection may take a few hours, the appraisal itself is normally given to the lender in an average of seven business days. Appraisers commonly use the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. If everyone has done their homework, literally and figuratively, the value of the home will meet the selling price, and the new buyers will soon be on their way to home ownership! 

 

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

Photo credit: Homelight

Checklist for New Home Buyers

by Tucker Robbins


Closing day has finally come and gone - you’re almost finished packing for your move, and let's face it you are BUSY! But, it is important to slow down to take note of a few things that should be done before and soon after you move in.  Go down this list of must-do’s so you’ll be safe, secure and happy in your new home:
 

 

  • - Change all of the entryway locks, keypad codes, and make plans to get a security system set up. 
     

  • - Have utilities turned on in your name, as well as television provider and internet.   
     

  • - Deep clean the new house, even if it looks clean.  This job can be hired out, or you can DIY if time permits.  Keep in mind costs involved with renting any necessary equipment, as well as cleaning product expenses. 
     

  • - Plug in/turn on all appliances, to make sure they’re in working order. 
     

  • - Walk through the house to check for minor things that didn’t warrant repair by the seller. Having your copy of the home inspection in hand will help you find the problem areas that may need to be addressed before they get too big and too costly. 
     

  • - If you want update the home’s color palette with a fresh coat of paint, or do any other small improvement jobs consider getting them done before move in day. This will allow for the painting and repairs to be finished easier and faster before settling in with added obstacles.
     

  • - Typically sellers leave the window treatments, but in case they didn’t be sure to measure the windows. Allow for time and budgeting to purchase and install shades or blinds until curtains or shutters can be hung. 
     

  • - Let everyone know your new address:  relatives and friends, of course, but also medical offices, your employer, schools, and other important people that communicate by mail. 
     

  • - Create a homeowner folder to keep all of your important papers. Be sure to store it in a safe and easily accessible place. 
     

  • - Meet your neighbors!  Once you’ve moved in, introduce yourself and your family by hosting a front porch social, with light refreshments.  Slip invites in mailboxes and simply ask them to stop by to say hello.  

Once you get settled in, you’ll need to get into a homeowner frame of mind.  You will have things to keep an eye on and maintain on a regular basis. Bob Vila’s home checklist gives you an idea of what you’ll need to check regularly. 

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

Photo credit: newhomesource.com

Breaking the Rules of Decorating

by Tucker Robbins


Decorating is the most personal way to express yourself in your home, and sometimes, when you want to try something different--something that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere on the list of design rules--it may be tempting to go with the flow, despite
 what you want to do.  Get design-rebellious with these tips: 

 

Color 

  • - Small room?  It doesn’t have to be a neutral color!  Go bold but create balance with open shelving or smaller furnishings. 

  • - We’re told not to stick with one color in a room, but going monochrome creates a bold, dramatic statement. 

  • - Your ceilings can be considered another wall when it comes to color.  Just remember to keep the walls a neutral color and get samples to paint on the ceiling before you commit to it. 

  • - Trim doesn’t have to be white!  Use high-gloss black for drama, stain that complements wood flooring, or neutrals for a modern twist on a traditional look. 

 

Finishes 

  • - If the metal finish on your kitchen light fixture doesn’t match the drawer pulls, it’s fine!  Mixing metals is perfectly acceptable, and check out this article from the Invaluable blog for inspiration! 

  • - Wood finishes don’t have to be the same throughout the house; create dimension with different stain colors, adding depth to a room or the whole house. 

  • - Who said tile is only for kitchens and bathrooms? Create an accent wall with tile in any room.  Be inspired by using the HGTV photo library search for whatever room you have in mind and add “wile tall” to the search term.   

  • - Speaking of kitchen tile, why not use wallpaper for your backsplash?  Protect it from splashes and oils with mounted plexiglass or a sealant made especially for sealing wallpaper. 

 

Furnishings and Accessories 

  • - Furniture stores have us fooled into thinking that our furniture sets must match, and this logic applies to even pieces like dining chairs. Mixing styles adds interest. 

  • - Mixing more than two patterns can be scary, so start small with accessories in bold patterns that are easily changed.  Staying in the same color family with your patterns will made this decision less daunting. 

  • - If you’d like to add some natural pieces to your space but don’t have a green thumb, then don’t be ashamed to use artificial plants!   

  • - It’s tempting to just scoot furniture to the wall and leave it because you want to follow symmetry.  Go diagonal!  Check out the difference a rearrangement can make by placing the sofa at a slant and give it a try in your living room! 

 

Not all rules of design should be broken, and there are likely rules that tell us why going against the norm with our personal decorating has a great result.  If you want to do something different, try it--you may like it! 

 

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

 

Photo credit:  thespruce.com

Attracting Wildlife to Your Landscape

by Tucker Robbins


Most homeowners landscape their property for aesthetic reasons, and there’s not a thing wrong with wanting your home’s outdoor areas to look beautiful.  Not only can your gardening be pleasing to the eye, you can attract beneficial insects and small mammal
s to your plantings.  Follow these tips if you’d like to create a mini-habitat oasis in your yard. 

 

  • - If you’re not sure where to begin, contact your local USDA Extension office, and they offer a wealth of information to educate you and get your started on your way to attracting wildlife. 

  • - Using native plants is the first step in attracting birds and butterflies, and most of these are perennials that have a short blooming season.  Don’t be afraid of losing color; you can intersperse the native plantings with colorful annuals. 

  • - Purchase or build housing to attract birds, making sure dimensions are correct for certain types of birds, and be sure birdhouse placement is where it will be most attractive to the birds. 

  • - Other man-made shelters can be made or bought to attract wild things:  houses for bats, butterflies, carpenter bees and ladybugs will not only add charm to the landscape, you will be bringing insects that will help you fight the bad bugs. 

  • - To invite frogs to take up residence, take any old clay pot, use ceramic tile cutters to make a doorway around the top edge, and turn the pot upside down on the ground for a frog house. 

  • - Besides placing feeders in different areas, clean water is essential for wildlife, and having small shallow dishes with clean water scattered about (under cover of plantings) will keep little animals coming back to your yard again and again. 

  • - Attracting wildlife can be wonderful and educational, but having deer devour your landscaping isn’t wonderful at all. Keep them at a distance by using this list of plants that don’t appeal to deer from Old Farmer’s Almanac. 

 

One of the first things you need to commit yourself to if you’d like all sorts of beneficial animals to visit and even live in your landscaping is going non-chemical for bad insects and weed control.  Education is the key, so do a lot of reading and learning before you begin this venture.  Landscaping that incorporates plants and animals is landscaping that benefits everyone. 

 

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

Photo credit: naplesnews.com

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

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 277

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