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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

For Sale By Owner for Sellers and Buyers

by Tucker Robbins


Some homeowners think they’ll be saving a ton of money by choosing to sell their home themselves, and unless they’re a real estate agent, that may be so.  If you are interested in a house that is offered for sale by the owner (FSBO) what’s the risk for you
?  Read on to find out why it’s not a good idea for seller or buyer: 

 

Sellers 

  • According to realtor.comⓇ, the listing agent and buyer’s agent split about 6% of the home’s sale price.  You’ll need to calculate how much it costs you to stage and photograph your home, get an MLS number, market the house, take time from work to schedule showings as well as host the showings, do all of the paperwork involved, and contact and pay attorneys and others who are involved in a home sale, and compare it to the commission you believe you’ll give up to an agent.   

  • - To be fair, the seller should offer a 3% commission to the buyer’s agent.  Otherwise, most agents won’t bring anyone who’s interested to your home for a showing. 

  • - Sellers are responsible for any mistakes that have occurred once the transaction is in motion.  If you don’t purchase errors and omissions insurance, you may end up paying out of pocket in court or settle out of court for those mistakes. 

  • - Pricing your home takes more than just an online search for sold homes in your area, and not only can you overprice your house, but you can lose thousands by underpricing. 

  • - Scammers abound and can cost you in many ways.  These criminals target FSBO homeowners, because the scammers are savvy enough to make their offer look legitimate.   

 

Buyers 

  • - Beware the owner’s asking price.  Since the majority of FSBO sellers don’t have the experience to set a good market value on their home, their quote will likely be too high. 

  • - Be prepared to wait some time to see the home.  Most homeowners have full-time jobs, and you’ll have to view the home on their time, with them as your host. 

  • - If a seller tells you their house is in perfect condition, and you can save money by not hiring an inspector, walk away.  Every house even brand-new houses should be inspected before changing hands. 

  • - Ask the seller what fees they plan on paying, and in the case that they ask to share the costs with you, it’s time to find another house. 

  • - Do your own research on the house, make sure the person you’ve talked with is the actual owner, and proceed with caution.  There are scams that involve an empty house, FSBO signs, and scammers who will take your money and run, because they aren’t the rightful owner. 

 

The best advice: hire a RealtorⓇ.  Not only are they the ones taking the risk in selling your home (or not), licensed real estate agents know everything you don’t know about selling and purchasing, devote all their working hours to home-buying, and can protect your investment as well as a buyer’s interests. 
 

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

Cutting the TV Cable!

by Tucker Robbins


With cable and satellite costs rising constantly, many Americans are finding streaming television the way to go, and old school television antennas are taking the place of satellite dishes on rooftops.  Are you thinking about cutting the cord?  Maybe these
 ideas can help you decide: 

 

Wherever there is high-speed internet, there is the ability to use any streaming device or smart tv.  Most are affordable and have a monthly subscription fee. 

 

  • - Smart tv’s come pre-loaded with different streaming service apps.  Many need subscriptions, and most offer a free trial period to help you determine if their service is right for you. 

  • - Devices that plug into televisions from different streaming companies can be purchased, and for small monthly fees, you can stream movies, and many television series.  PCMag has the most recent information on these plug-ins, as well as cost, features, and reviews of each. 

  • - Major satellite companies are finally offering streaming services at the fraction of the cost of their monthly fees, and you can cancel at any time without fear of being charged for cancelling a contract.  Similar to their satellite services, you choose what channel package that fits your viewing choices, as well as your budget. 

  • - Are you afraid you’ll miss your favorite sports contests if you cut the cord? Don’t worry--you can stream live sports events, and GroundedReason tells you how. 

 

Cancelling your cable or satellite service may have you worried that you won’t be able to watch the major networks.  If you live in a large area with nearby local stations, (within twenty miles), an indoor antenna will work fine.  But for better reception, as well as more channels, you’ll need an outdoor antenna.  Read on to learn how this old-fashioned idea is more modern than ever: 

 

  • - Indoor antennas can be places almost anywhere in your home for good reception, or use a flat one that can be mounted on or near a window, out of direct sunlight. 

  • - Outdoor antennas still look like something from outer space, but are smaller and come with wireless remotes so you can control the direction that you need it to be pointing to pick up different channels. 

  • TechHive offers some advice on choosing an outdoor antenna, as well as their top picks. 

  • Installing an outdoor antenna can be done by anyone with a few tools, who is comfortable with climbing a ladder to get to the roof, making sure the antenna is grounded, and who has a few hours to devote to the job.  Otherwise, a good handyman with antenna installation experience should be hired for the job. 

 

If saving money is on your agenda, then choosing to watch television and movies with streaming services and antenna tv is one way to put money back into your pocket.  Not only will you no longer be paying for channels you never watch, you will be in control of what you watch, and how much you’ll pay.


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

Photo credit: wgno.com

Before You List Your New Castle County DE Home!

by Tucker Robbins


It’s time to get ready to put your home on the market, and there are some things to think about before you have it listed.  There’s work to be done, and some dos and don'ts that should be taken into consideration if you want your home to sell!
 

 

  • - The exterior of your home is the first thing a potential buyer sees; paint the siding, if necessary, and make sure the roof is in great shape.   

  • - Clean up the yard, front and back, and add some seasonal plantings for color. 

  • - A deep clean inside is necessary.  Wash windows, (inside and out), walls, draperies, scrub the bathroom’s every cranny, and shampoo the carpets. 

  • - If you have pets or a smoker in the home, a professional clean may be necessary, or even a new coat of paint on the walls. Pet odors and cigarette tar stay on everything.  Ask a friend or neighbor to come in and do a smell test and tackle any issues that they share with you. 

  • - Deciding what colors to paint the walls shouldn’t be of your personal taste.  Choosing neutral colors is best, and don’t stop at the living areas walls--paint every room. 

  • - Check all the doorknobs, and if any are sticking or simply not working, replace with similar hardware, or replace all of them.  It’s also important for all the exterior door locks to be in proper working order and replace any that aren’t. 

  • - Major repairs or restoration should be done by a pro or an experienced DIYer.  If you choose not to make a repair that you know is needed, you’ll have to be up front to your agent, make the needed fix is listed in your disclosure, and be ready to lower your selling price. 

  • - Sellers want their home to stand out, but don’t overdo it!  Using generally popular fixtures and finishes is better than going with the latest trend. 

  • - Even if your storage space is limited, make it appear like there’s plenty of room.  Remove seasonal clothing from closets, as well as occasionally used kitchen gadgets from cabinets and counters, and put them in storage with the rest of your things. 

  • - Consider staging, and if you can’t afford to go full scale, find a designer that will use your furniture and decorative pieces to maximize space, as well as have it looking its best. 

 

Lastly, don’t go it alone; find a RealtorⓇ that knows all that you don’t about selling your home.  Using an agent gets your home “out there,” and will make the process easier for you as well as for the buyer.  
 

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

Photo credit: homie.com

Sprucing Up a Small Bathroom!

by Tucker Robbins


The poor, lowly bathroom.  Many of us don’t really know how to decorate it short of hanging a pretty shower curtain, because there’s very little room for improvement. Or so we believe. Let’s look at some ideas to make a small necessary room a more attracti
ve place to visit: 

 

  • - Just because the room is small doesn’t mean the walls have to be white.  Paint in a color you love, bold or pastel, or wallpaper that makes a statement is as appropriate for a small room as a large one. 

  • - A small bathroom means smaller-sized fixtures and splurging on a nice cabinet or sink won’t hurt the pocketbook as much, while adding style. 

  • - Contrasting shower tile is a great way to add color to a bath and gives you a reason to keep the curtain pulled back, opening up the space, and showing off your colorful shower! 

  • - If your small bath or powder room doesn’t have a window, use decorative lighting for your focal point, and add wall sconces on the wall over the toilet, and on either side of the mirror. 

  • - Floor covers, and adhesive tile is simple to install, is available in endless designs and colors, and can be the feature for your small bathroom.   

  • - When new tile, paint, or wallpaper isn’t in the budget, add color through your accessories. Brightly colored curtain or shade, rug, and artwork can make the room. 

  • - Since most small bathrooms don’t have a lot of storage, you have to be creative and practical, or use functional decor.  Check out these bathroom storage ideas from Good Housekeeping. 

  • - Weekend warriors or those who are confident enough in their skill level can create recessed shelving with this how-to from DIY Network.  If you like the idea but lack the skills, call a reputable carpenter to handle this small job. 

  • - Large mirrors aren’t just for large bathrooms; using them in your small bathroom helps bring in the light, making the room appear larger. 

  • - Keep the less-is-more attitude when adding things to a small bathroom; a small plant, soap, and hand towel are all you need on the counter. 

 

Not only can you make your little bathroom stylish, you can cut down on clutter and keep it organized for smoother mornings or guest use.  Don’t think of this project as a challenge, look for inspiration, and it may end up becoming your favorite retreat!


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

Photo credit: mileyphotos.org

Terms First-Time Home Buyers Need to Know!

by Tucker Robbins


The time has come to begin the steps of buying your first home and looking around the internet and other real estate-related media, you’re finding there’s a lot more to know than finding a house, getting a loan, and signing papers.  There are some key wor
ds that can be unfamiliar to a first-time home buyer, so familiarize yourself with these lesser-known terms so you’ll have fewer questions and stumbles along the way: 

 

  • - In order to be certain that the home is worth the amount of the loan, there will be a home appraisal performed by an unbiased inspector of the lender’s choosing. 

  • - At the final paper-signing, the buyer is required to pay closing costs, which normally include attorney fees, surveyors, inspections, and title insurance, among other things.  Be prepared to have 2-5 percent of the purchase price for closing costs. 

  • - If you’d like to pay less interest over the time of your loan, you can purchase discount or mortgage points.  To learn more about this option, check out these tips from the Nerd Wallet website. 

  • - Earnest money is money that will be paid to the seller to show good faith of the buyer towards the home purchase.  It will be applied to your down payment. 

  • - When you have funds in escrow, you will have given funds to a third party to hold until they have verified that inspections, disclosures or any disputes have been resolved.  Keeping it in escrow protects your deposit before you sign the final contract to buy your new home. 

  • - Pre-approval is very important and differs from being pre-qualified.  If you’re pre-approved for a loan amount, you have a realistic expectation of what you can buy. 

  • - If your down payment is less than twenty percent of the purchase price, you will pay private mortgage insurance typically until that amount reaches twenty percent of the loan or home value. 

  • - Your lender will require the purchase of title insurance, which protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage for whatever reason.  Learn more about what title insurance is and what it covers from the CFPB. 
     

There are other terms and abbreviations you may find in your search for a house in their descriptions and about real estate in general that you won’t be familiar with.  Here’s a longer, more comprehensive list from realtor.comⓇ.  The more you know before you get started, the smoother the home-buying process will be!


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

Photo credit: activerain

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