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How to Raise Your Credit Score to Save Money

by The Hat Team

Want to buy a house but a low credit score has you down?  Don’t despair! There are ways to raise your credit score and save thousands on your mortgage.   A strong credit score can lead to better interest rates, additional loan programs to benefit homebuyers, and easy and quick approvals which will put you on the fast track to home ownership.  Here are some tips for raising your credit score:

  • Make sure your credit reports are accurate.  The first step toward improving your credit score is checking your credit reports.  You will find your credit scores on three different reports, one each from the 3 Major Credit Bureaus.  Keep in mind that credit reports can have mistakes…and they often do.  That’s why it’s important that you analyze them carefully.  Make sure that the information on the reports is accurate, because if there are mistakes, they will be reflected in your score.  It’s easy to check your credit reports and doesn’t have to cost anything since you are entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Once you have copies of your credit reports go through them carefully and make sure of the following:
  • Is your personal information is accurate?
  • Are all your credit accounts are being reported?
  • Are there any late or missed payments that you remember making on time?
  • Are there any applications for credit that you don’t recognize?
  • Are there any accounts you don’t recognize?
  • Are there decades old items still on your report?

Highlight any discrepancies you find.  If you do find errors, you will have to dispute each one separately.  How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

  • Figure out what you need to fix/change/improve.  Here are some examples of things that could be causing your score to be lower than it should:
  • Your identity may have been stolen and someone is screwing up your credit.
  • An old collection account could still be haunting you, way past its statute of limitations for your state.
  • Do you have an ex-spouse? Perhaps he or she has not paid a bill he or she was supposed to pay per your divorce settlement.  Unfortunately, you could be suffering the consequences.
  • If you have ever defaulted on a loan it might be showing up as several defaults on your credit report because it has been sold to other debt collectors.
  • It might be a simple name mix up…your credit information might be mixed up with that of someone with a similar name.
  • Devise a plan to improve your credit score.  You can open a free account on Credit.com where you can get tips to help you determine where your poor credit issues are and they can assist you in creating an action plan for improving your score.  To get started, try keeping your credit card balances as low as possible, and start paying down debt rather than moving it around.
  • If you have a habit of making late payments…stop.  It’s vital that you make payments on time. Set up alerts when payments are due so that you won’t forget.  If due dates don’t coincide with when you get paid, make some calls to get the dates moved around to better suit your schedule.  Don’t be afraid to ask a credit card issuer or lender to forgive a past due payment. You might be surprised to discover they will happily work with you if you have a history of making on-time payments.
  • Open a secured credit card.  This is a type of credit card that allows you to make a deposit into a checking account that “secures” the line of credit being extended to you.  You will be able to get a secured credit card even if you already have bad credit, and adding a new account with a positive payment history will help improve your credit score over time.

2018's Best Secured Credit Cards for Building Credit

Once you get your credit score where it needs to be, you will reap the benefits by qualifying for better rates and save money on your mortgage loan!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: cfcw.com

210 E Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36105

MLS# 442463

3 Bedrooms | 2.5 Bathrooms | 2,379 sqft | Pool | Garden District

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Old world charm with modern conveniences. If you love nostalgia and are impressed with the craftsman style  prominent in the first part of the last century, this lovingly cared for home will make you zing! Offering both formal and more casual living spaces on the main floor, you can enjoy family time or entertaining on a grand scale. Upstairs the spacious bedrooms will hold lots of big cherished furniture, with a layout that will suite any style and taste. Looking for storage? Look no further...this home boasts plenty of it, with numerous closets, attic and basement storage. For outdoor living, there is a sparkling inground pool for relaxing and cooling off in the warmer months, and a pool house for storing equipment, pool toys, and extra patio furniture. If you like guests, but like for them to have their own space, the cozy efficiency apartment located above the pool house fits the bill perfectly. It also could be rented for additional income. Contact agent for complete list of upgrades and features!

Precious Pumpkins - Fun Ways to Decorate with Pumpkins for Halloween

by The Hat Team

Halloween is just a week away, but with unusually warm temperatures this year it hasn’t exactly felt like pumpkin season.  If you’ve been waiting to decorate your porch with pumpkins for Halloween, it’s not too late. Here are some unique and fun ways to get your craft on and welcome trick or treaters with pumpkins on your porch!

Speckled Pumpkins - This simple project allows you to create whimsical pumpkins in various colors.  Paint a pumpkin white and then dip another paintbrush into the color of your choice and splatter paint on it to create different sized speckles and blob of color. Want smaller specks? Try dipping a toothbrush in paint and flicking it toward the pumpkin.  This is an easy craft to do with kids too!


Photo Credit: janecanblogcotcom.wordpress.com

Pushpin Pumpkin - This is another way to decorate pumpkins without carving them.  Whether you stick with orange or you want to paint your pumpkins various colors, you can add more to them by adding pushpin designs.  Just draw out your design on the pumpkin with a marker and then push the pins in and voila - you have a beautiful, shiny design!


Photo Credit: marthastewart.com

Patterned Glowing Pumpkins - All you need to create pumpkins that glow are a knife, a drill, an erasable wax pencil, and a battery-operated light.  While the common thing to do is to cut the top of the pumpkin off to place the light inside, in this case you can leave the top alone.  Cut a hole in the bottom instead. Once you’ve scooped out the pulp and seeds, draw the pattern of your choice on the pumpkin using the pencil.  Then, using a medium drill bit, punch out a dotted line of your image leaving approximately the same amount of space between each hole.  Turn on your light and set the pumpkin on top of it and your pattern will glow!


Photo Credit: bhg.com

Pumpkin Votive - Light up your front porch with candles in your pumpkins.  Purchase small pumpkins and cut out the top and scoop out the pulp and seeds.  Place a votive candle inside.  Use them to line your walkway and porch steps or along your porch railing…or set up a small table with a collection of them.  If you’re not going to be outdoors waiting for trick or treaters, use Flameless Votive Candles to be safe.


Photo Credit: apumpkinandaprincess.com

Googly Eye Pumpkins - Even toddlers can help with this crafty way to create cute, whimsical pumpkins.Buy pumpkins, gourds, and googly eyes of various sizes and simply glue the eyes on!It’s as simple as that!Next thing you know you will have a super funny collection of cute, happy looking pumpkins!


Photo Credit: lynnkilmore.com

So, if you haven’t bought or decorated pumpkins yet or you haven’t wanted to carve them for fear they would rot too quickly in unseasonably warm temperatures, don’t despair.  You still have time to get crafty and decorate with pumpkins for Halloween!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

357 Felder Ave: Classic Style with Updated Features!

by The Hat Team

357 Felder Ave Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 442316

3 Bedrooms | 3.5 Bathrooms | 2,808 sqft | Garden District

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You get the best of everything...classic style and updated features! This elegant Federal style 2.5 story home boasts both formal living and entertaining spaces as well as more casual living areas. The cook in the family will delight in the custom designed kitchen with high end appliances. Spacious den/family room is large enough to spread out in or have several more intimate seating/lounging/reading areas. Out back you will enjoy a big covered deck overlooking private back yard with in-ground salt water swimming pool. Master bedroom retreat on second floor runs the width of the house and has a cozy seating area around antique mantle. Access the third floor bonus rooms from a spiral staircase and find a wonderful split design with another full bath...perfect for teen retreat, rec room, home theater...use your imagination! Detached two car garage out back provides great off street parking. Call your favorite realtor to schedule a private tour of this marvelous Garden District charmer.

How to Pack Like a Pro!

by The Hat Team

Congratulations!  You have successfully sold your home!  What a relief, right?  Now comes the hard part. Moving.  Moving is one of the 10 Most Stressful Life Events along with job loss, death of a loved one, divorce and major illness. Sounds fun, huh?  That’s why it is important to go about moving in a thoughtful and organized manner.  The more prepared you are, the less stress.  Packing up your house can be overwhelming, but you can make it easier by spreading it out over several weeks rather than trying to do it all right before you move.  Here is a general timeline for packing that you can use as a guide:

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: PRE-PACKING - Hopefully when you sell your house, you won’t have to immediately vacate.  About a month before moving you can begin to pre-pack items that you won’t need or use before you move.  Out of season clothing, tools and small appliances, and collectibles/knick knacks are items that you won’t miss. Hint: if your house is still on the market you can take this step as well, and it will help with staging your home for prospective buyers.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: NON-ESSENTIALS - Among the items that you didn’t pre-pack, choose those that you know you likely won’t need before moving.  Books, extra linens, and kitchen items can be packed up because you likely won’t be doing much reading, and you only need enough linens, plates, and utensils for the number of people living in the home.  CDs and DVDs can go as well.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: THE SERIOUS PACKING BEGINS - Yes…now it is time to start paring down the amount of “stuff” still in your home. If you have children, allow them to choose a few toys/games to keep out, and box up the rest. If you have a home office, clean it out and pack what you plan to take with you.  Any jewelry and shoes that you don’t wear daily can go as well.  You may feel that two weeks is a long time to go without these items, but trust me, before you know it you will be unpacking them in your new abode! 5 Ways Children Can Help During a Move

ONE WEEK BEFORE MOVING DAY: SEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING - Now it is time to pack up all but the few things you will need to get through the last few days at your current home.  The rest of your clothes and kitchen items can go (leaving yourself what you will need until the move, of course).  Go through your medicine cabinet and toss any expired medications. Pack the rest except for the ones you take daily.

TWO DAYS BEFORE MOVING DAY: IT’S GETTING REAL YA’LL - At this point your stress level may be peaking, but if you have been following the time-line and packing a bit each week, you should be almost finished!  Box up your electronics (in their original packaging when possible), bathroom items, and any miscellaneous items that are left.  Keep a box for essential items that you will keep with you as you are moving.

MOVING DAY: IT’S HERE! -  All that should be left is furniture and appliances.  Whether you have hired movers to load the large items or you are doing it yourself, it will be so much more manageable with everything else already boxed up and ready to go.

IMPORTANT TIP - Label every box.  You can either write what is in the box or what room the box should go to.  Or both.  You will be glad you did when you are unpacking!

Remember that this is simply a general guideline.  You should do what is right for you and your family when it comes to packing and moving. But hopefully this will make what can be a trying and overwhelming time a little less stressful.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

967 Green Forest Dr: Immaculate Home in the heart of Dalraidia!

by The Hat Team

967 Green Forest Dr, Montgomery, AL 36109

MLS# 442245

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,980 sqft | Dalraida

Great home in the heart of Dalraida on a quiet street. This lovely home is in immaculate condition. Plenty of living space with a living room/dining room and huge family room/den across the back with a "Sunsetter" shade to keep the room cool in the afternoon sun. Entertain in style in the updated kitchen with granite counter tops, large island, bamboo floors and breakfast room that opens to the family room. Tons of storage including large laundry room and attached storage off the screened porch. Speaking of the screened porch...the best room in the house with a 6-person hot tub that the owner will miss terribly. The private back yard is fully fenced with nice landscaping, sprinkler system and a detached storage building. This one is move-in ready, check it out today!

1904 Norman Bridge Ct, Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 442027

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 2,639 sqft | Garden District

Situated on a large corner lot in the historic Garden District, this Southern Colonial charmer will steal your heart! Catch a summer breeze on the wide front porch while enjoying the mature landscaping including azaleas, crepe myrtles, and Japanese maples and majestic magnolias. Entertain on a grand scale in the ample sized living room and formal dining room. Butler's pantry features built in storage and a large pantry for storage, and the cook's delight kitchen has plenty of cabinet/counter space, newer appliances, and work island. Relax in the cozy den/family room off the kitchen complete with media closet. Main bedroom on first floor with built in mirrored vanity and bath with wide tub and separate shower, and has access to sunroom. Upstairs there is a cozy window seat on the landing, perfect for reading. Two upstairs bedrooms are literally HUGE (15x25) and each boast spacious walk-in closets, cedar lined window seats, and share a large bath, also with tub and separate Nubath lined shower stall. Location is perfect, with proximity to Maxwell AFB, Downtown, Cloverdale, two hospitals, Huntingdon and ASU.
 

Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Home

by The Hat Team

Have you been thinking about redoing the floors in your home?  There are so many flooring options available that it can be confusing and overwhelming trying to decide what you want.  Floors are a significant part of what defines the style and function for every room, so it’s important to make sure you choose something that you not only like, but that will hold up and look good for years to come.  Here are some current flooring trends you may want to consider:

  • BAMBOO

Bamboo flooring has been around for a couple of decades now, but recently advances in manufacturing have strengthened its durability and diversified its appearance.The introduction of super-dense “strand-woven” bamboo means that it can be made into boards that are two and a half times as hard as red oak.Various wood-look styles are available in bamboo as well, meaning there are many options for style.Since it is made from a natural plant, bamboo is eco-friendly. So, if you are environmentally conscious it is a good choice for you.

  • LARGE FORMAT TILE

For a modern style, consider large format tile.Whether you want a rustic stone look, a minimalist, industrial feel or a sleek, high-gloss finish, you can find what you are looking for in large format tile.It can make a small space look larger and can give a more streamlined look to a large space.And with fewer grout lines, it is easier to clean. Large Format Tile Images on Pinterest

  • LUXURY VINYL

When you think of luxury, vinyl is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind.But luxury vinyl is worth looking in to.It’s nothing like the peel-and-stick flooring that people used to install back in the day.It is a new type of flooring that combines a high-end look with the durability of vinyl. Unlike wood, it stands up well to moisture and is therefore great for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. comes in a variety of looks - from hardwood to stone - and looks so real that people will be surprised to discover it is vinyl!

  • CUT & LOOP CARPET

If you love the comfort of carpet, but want a different look, then cut and loop carpet may provide just what you’re looking for.Using a technique that combines both loops and cut loops, manufacturers can create a carpet with eye-catching patterns that add depth and style to your floors. And, with new technology, carpeting is being produced with softer fibers than in the past.Carpet padding has come a long way as well and offers more protection that it used to.

  • CONCRETE

If a sleek, industrial look is what you’re after, concrete is the way to go. This durable flooring comes in a variety of textures, colors and finishes, so it can complement almost any décor. Concrete floors are long-lasting and easy to clean and maintain.But they are also hard and cold, so you want to keep that in mind when choosing where to use them.They are not going to be comfortable to stand or walk on all day long.

  • AMERICAN HARDWOOD

For beauty and durability, you cannot go wrong with American hardwood.It’s also a great choice for the environmentally conscious.Since it is made here and not shipped from the other side of the world like bamboo, you are reducing your carbon footprint a bit by purchasing wood from trees closer to home.In addition, the United States takes the issue of deforestation seriously, and replenishes forests as they cut trees down. With choices like oak, hickory, maple or heart pine, you can fill your home with warmth and allure while also being environmentally friendly.

If you are in the market to see or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: consumerreports.org

1827 Ridge Ave, Unit 7: One-of-a-Kind Converted Carriage House!

by The Hat Team

1827 Ridge Avenue, Unit #7, Montgomery 36106

MLS# 440081

2 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,845 sqft | Cloverdale

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Simplify Without Compromise!

Cut down both on space and yard work (NONE if you choose) but still live surrounded by custom-designed beauty, you’ll be proud to call your own.  A condo that’s free-standing!  This early twentieth century carriage house was converted into a family home in the 1960's by noted architect and designer Arthur Joe Grant with meticulous attention to detail. Over the years it has been lovingly maintained and updated by several notable owners, all with exquisite taste. Though a small cottage with modest upkeep, its rooms feel spacious, and can accommodate two or 20 effortlessly. Throw lavish dinner parties in the grand formal dining room, or serve everyday meals in the oversized breakfast/keeping room, which is open to the beautifully updated kitchen. The elegant living room overlooks the walled front courtyard and boasts a rare marble fireplace that has a gas fired coal grate making cold nights warm and cozy. The front guest suite has bonus dressing room and updated bath, while the well-appointed master bedroom has plenty of built-in shelves and two walk-in closets. And, don't let the term "cottage" make you think that there is anything lacking in this home, as you will see there is more storage space than most homes twice its size! Front courtyard is like having two additional living rooms, open air! Intimate covered dining area plus large central section allow for multiple seating, all shaded by a majestic 50+ year old Japanese maple tree. This gem sits in the middle of historic Old Cloverdale, walking distance to dining and entertainment districts.

662 Ponce de Leon: Craftsman Style Starter Home in Cloverdale!

by The Hat Team

662 Ponce de Leon, Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 440381

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,992 sqft | Cloverdale

If you are looking for a charming Cloverdale Craftsman style starter home, this one is a must see. This 3 bedroom, 2 bath home has 1992 sq ft full of 1930's architectural appeal and is situated on a 90x190 lot. Both the living room and the dining room have fireplaces, original hardwood floors and crystal chandeliers. The large kitchen has a breakfast bar and room for a big table or make it your family room/den. Outside is a wonderful front porch, a covered side and back patio, as well as a huge wired workshop, another storage building and two car carport. Walking distance to the Capri Theatre, restaurants, shops and concerts in the park at a great price!

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