Our Real Estate Blog
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know AI (artificial intelligence) assistants are the new must-have tech gadget. They are quickly popping up in homes everywhere and making families lives so much easier.
Google Home with its Google Assistant has the deepest wealth of knowledge to pull from (ahem… Google Search) and can sync up with your existing Google account preferences. Which means you don’t have to worry about downloading extra apps, creating new accounts or recreating the content and information you already have elsewhere.
To perform tasks Google Assistant uses pre-established “Home Commands” that trigger an action. To signal that you are speaking to the assistant you start your request with “Okay Google”. If you have an Android you might already be familiar with this process. Which is another tick on the pros column for Google Home for those who are keeping tally.
Get your itinerary by asking “Okay Google, what do I have planned next week” or “What do I have planned today”. Google Assistant will pull right from your Google Calendar and remind you of upcoming appointments, reminders, and events.
Set a timer when cooking by simply stating how long you need one to be set for. You can also set alarms by request. Change your morning alarm or set up daily reminders to take a medication or start dinner, for example.
Control your smart home devices with Google Home. The Assistant can raise or lower the temperature of your home if you have a smart thermostat. It can also turn lights and devices on or off to those hooked up to a smart outlet.
Of course, there is always the option to ask Google Assistant to play music, radio, podcasts or an audiobook. Perfect for to keep your mind busy during those deep cleaning days or when exercising at home.
Never forget anything again by asking the Assistant to remember things for you. It can be anything - to call your mother, pick up a birthday present to your nephew or know how long that sauce has been in the fridge. Then when you need to know you can simply ask for the Assistant to remind you.
Order pizza through Domino’s. Pizza on demand. Need I say more?
With face recognition capabilities Google Home hooked up with a smart doorbell can tell you who is at the door. The Nest Hello doorbell has a built-in camera to allow Google Assistant to recognize faces that you’ve configured it to remember.
Use IFTT, the automation app, If This Then That, to come up with your own commands. Use it to create commands that trigger an action of your choosing. You can add to your to-do list, iPhone calendar, and other apps. Ask for the Assistant to call your phone when it inevitably gets lost (probably between the couch cushions).
So, the new home has the perfect yard, layout, number of bathrooms, even the right roofline, but you hate the bathroom or kitchen cabinets. Don't give up just yet. You have some options to update your cabinets without completely tearing apart and replacing the kitchen, and you can even skip sanding them down. Welcome to the miracle of "Chalk Paint."
What is “Chalk Paint”?
The original and only paint really called “chalk paint” was created and trademarked by Annie Sloane. Its widely recognized as a top choice by furniture and cabinet professionals. This original pain allows you to get that “shabby chic” look on furniture and cabinets without refinishing them first. Its major downside is the price. To get the name brand “Annie Sloan Chalk Paint” (ASCP), you will be out nearly forty dollars a quart.
This paint is actually a mixture of paint with other chalky substances like powdered gypsum (plaster of Paris) and allows you to refinish a cabinet without sanding or priming it first. After painting, your cabinets or furniture will have a chalky finish until you complete the process by finishing applying a high-grade wax that leaves the cabinets with a softly glowing finish.
Does it Work?
The developers of the process absolutely swear by it, and they've drawn a large group of devotees. You can find a useful variety of tutorials online including everything from heavily weathered to mildly distressed or even completely smooth. You aren't just stuck with the original brand though. The popularity of the process has given rise to several other name brand options including CeCe Caldwell’s non-toxic natural mineral pigments. A big plus for CeCe’s paints is their eco-friendly ingredients that are especially safe for pets and children.
How About an Affordable Alternative?
Wary of the paint cost? You have multiple options there as well. You can make any latex paint a chalk-style paint by using Webster's chalky paint powder. They offer a wide range of tutorials and instructions to create different accents and layering effects. This combo paint can even work for painting on metal! If you want the ease of a single product, check out your local home improvement or paint store for some less expensive options. Professionals have experienced a wide range of results with these paints, so do your research and test on a single cabinet or door before you do the whole kitchen.
If you're worried about the kitchen in the home of your dreams or worried about your kitchen bringing down the cost of your home, talk to your real estate agent about the best kitchen options for your home.
Home appraisals are an important part of the buying and selling process. Lenders use appraisals to make sure that the home is worth what the borrower is paying. A home’s appraisal value is based on a number of factors, all of which we’ll discuss in this post.
Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or are just learning about the process of buying a home so you’ll be better equipped in the future, this article is for you.
How is a home appraisal different from an inspection?
While home appraisals and inspections are performed by licensed or certified professionals, they have to different functions. An inspection ensures the safety of a home, as well as whether or not it will need repairs in the immediate or near future.
Appraisals, on the other hand, aim to value a home based on its property value, the size of the property, and the location of the property. The condition of the home is a factor in valuing a home, which is why some people confused appraisals with inspections.
Who pays for appraisals?
Like most closing costs, a home appraisal is a burden that falls on the buyer. Typically, the lender you choose will work with will actually order the appraisal. The cost, which usually amounts to a few hundred dollars, can be added to your closing fees. You can find the cost for an appraisal listed on the Closing Disclosure document provided by your chosen lender.
Which factors determine the home’s value?
To appraise the house itself, appraisers will look at the condition of the home. They’ll also weigh the features of the home in their valuation--things like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, for example.
However, the two key characteristics of a home that contribute to its value are its age and size.
Which external factors contribute to the home’s value?
As you might suspect, the location of your home matters greatly when it comes to appraisals. Homes are appraised based off of average prices for their neighborhood and region.
Other location factors include how accessible the home is, if it’s located on a waterfront, and whether it has desirable views.
When does a home get appraised?
While your experience may vary based on your specific circumstances, most appraisals occur after a buyer has signed a purchase contract. One this is done, the lender will take the steps necessary to order and process the appraisal.
How long is the home appraisal process?
Once the buyer has signed a purchase contract, the appraisal is usually completed and processed within 7 days. The appraisal report will be sent to the lender. This report contains the appraised value of the home. Buyers are entitled to a copy of this report, and should keep one for their own records.
There’s no denying that winter seems exceptionally long and drawn out in years with extreme weather. If you’re longing for Spring, but it’s still weeks away, you can make some small changes in your home to add that “Spring Feeling” and ride out the worst of the winter blues.
With holiday decorations long put away, a wintery home can seem a bit blah. With less light coming in the windows and leaves bare of trees, the gray theme is both outside and inside. Freshen up your indoor palette with these uncomplicated (and inexpensive) splashes of color.
- Change out your towels. Give your bathroom a pre-Spring refresh with pastel towels in favorite colors such as pink, aqua, or yellow. Or, add colorful floral hand towels to evoke the upcoming season.
- Recover or replace a couple of pillows. A simple change in accent pillows dramatically updates a sofa or reading chair.
- Bring in the flowers. From a simple, inexpensive floral spray from your grocery store to a dramatic arrangement, fresh flowers always bring happiness and joy to a home. If you can't afford the real thing or have allergy problems that preclude the pollen that fresh flowers bring, find the next best thing in realistic looking (and feeling) tulips or lilies from your local craft retailer. Some faux flora and fauna are so realistic that your guests may not know the difference.
- If you have heavy curtains or window coverings, open them up. Bring in as much light as possible.
- Change out light bulbs for "daylight" LEDs. With all the LED choices on the market, the ones marked "daylight" will bring light most similar to full-spectrum sunlight into your home. Remember, LEDs last up to 20 years, so while a bit pricier on the front end, they'll save you money over time and reduce your electric bill too. When shopping for LED bulbs, select by lumens, not wattage. A lumen is the accurate measure of brightness in light while wattage refers to the amount of electricity it takes to operate. Daylight bulbs give the best effect in overhead and recessed lighting.
- Start bringing in lighter fare to your diet. Add Spring-Mix greens, some lemon zest, or bright red, orange, and yellow bell peppers to your salads. Look for floral, herbal teas and change up from hot to iced.
Prep for Spring
Take the time now to gather your supplies for Spring cleaning so that you’re ready when that random warm day pops up. And, if you're planning to move in the Spring, contact your agent now to get in on an early-bird posting of your perfect new home.
When everything is online, it’s hard to discern when getting up, leaving the house, and checking out a home can be helpful. There’s so much information regarding real estate online; you probably want to pick and choose when and where you go to see a home. Even if you’re nowhere near being able to buy a home, you may want to check out open houses to help you in the future.
Looking at real estate is fun. You can dream of living in a neighborhood on the street you may never be able to afford. There are many advantages to checking out open houses.
You’ll Understand How Far Your Dollar Will Stretch
The type of home that you can afford, and the type of home you want may not be in the same ballpark. If you take a look at different open houses, you may be able to see where your budget takes you. Even if the market changes, you’ll be able to match your expectations with your wallet. As you know what’s out there, you’ll be able to hone in on what you want in a home.
From here, it will be easier to work with a real estate agent because you’ll be able to give them a better idea of what you want when the time does come to buy a home.
It Will Be Easier To Hire An Agent
As you go to open houses, you’ll meet more real estate agents. These agents can become potential hires once you do get more serious about buying.
You’ll See The Market Firsthand
Besides understanding how much house you can get for your dollar, you’ll be able to get an idea of how many buyers are actually out there. If you’re seeing many other potential buyers at open houses, you may be facing quite a bit of competition when you head out to buy a home of your own. When the competition is high, you’re looking at offering above asking price for houses. You could even get into bidding wars. A lot of other buyers doesn’t mean you should back out of buying a home altogether, but just enter the market with caution.
You Can Discover New Areas
By exploring open houses, you may find a neighborhood that you love that wasn’t on your list before. How can you get to know an area if you have never spent time there before?
You’ll Learn Where You Need To Compromise
By looking at different houses, you can see the potential (or lack thereof) in many homes. If you can see where you’d be willing to compromise long before the home search is on, your search will be that much smoother