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Cringe-Worthy Home Décor Trends

by The Hat Team


If you are preparing to sell an older home, you might have some cringe-worthy home décor that needs to be updated to get the best price for your home, especially if you are a selling a starter home.  Buyers looking in the starter home category are looking for move-in ready homes that won’t require a lot of money to fix up.  If you have any of these home décor styles that have fallen out of favor in your home, you may want to makes some changes before putting your house on the market:

  1. Shag Carpeting

If you still have shag carpeting in your house, it’s way past time to bid it adieu.Shag style rugs hit their peak during the 60s and 70s.Back then, wall to wall carpeting was still relatively new and people were excited to incorporate the deep piled rugs into their home décor. But as early as the 1980s it was already considered dated and passe’. So, if you still have it in your house buyers will likely not be impressed. Cheap Flooring Ideas: 8 of the Cheapest Flooring Options with Style

  1. Wall Paneling

Another 1970s staple was wood wall paneling. With exaggerated wood grain and fake wood knots, they made dark rooms darker and gave a truly dated appearance. You don’t have to remove it though. There are many ways to update wood paneling for a lighter, more modern aesthetic. An Easy and Cheap Way to Update Wood Wall Paneling

  1. Green & Gold Appliances

If you still have “avocado” and “mustard” colored appliances, congratulations!Because they have lasted a LONG time!But seriously?It’s time to let them go.They might be deal breakers for buyers who can’t afford to buy a house and immediately replace appliances.

  1. Country Kitchens

The 1980s brought with it an influx of “country” décor.Think cornflower blue, ducks and geese, ribbons and bows.Wall paper border embellished with cute little farm animals frolicking in flowering fields accented by dark wood cabinets was quite popular.But now it is dated and buyers probably won’t be thrilled with the idea of having to live with it if they couldn’t afford to change it right away.

  1. Pastel Bathrooms

Back in the 1950s pastels became de rigueur for bathrooms across the country. Bathed in floor to ceiling pink, powder blue, or mint green, they looked like confections fit for Barbie’s dream house.While it might be a large undertaking, you may want to consider a bathroom update to get a more interest from buyers and a bigger profit on the sale of your home in the long run. But if your home is what you'd call "contemporary" or Mid-Century modern, leave that pastel bathroom alone because your buyer will love it!  

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: pinterest.com

Starter Home - A Guide for First-Time Homebuyers

by The Hat Team


Purchasing your first home is a huge milestone…and not one that should be taken lightly.  It’s a big commitment and you want to make sure you get it right.  It’s important that you educate yourself before you begin the home buying process so that you can find the right property and procure the financing for it. 

Here are some things you should know as a first-time homebuyer:

  1. PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE HOME BUYING PROCESS

Entering the home buying process for the first time might feel a little overwhelming. You will have a lot of questions, but don’t worry, there will be people who will guide you through.The first thing to do is to find an . Your Realtor will assist you in finding your starter home, making an offer, and negotiating with sellers. Another person you should meet with prior to starting your home search is a mortgage lender. Your mortgage banker will help you complete your loan application along with determining the amount you qualify for. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an important step that will set you on the right course for buying your first home. 3 Essential Reasons to Get a Mortgage Preapproval

  1. STARTING YOUR HOME SEARCH

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying in relation to real estate. It exists for a reason. Because location is one of the most important aspects in choosing a home.The first thing you must do when searching for your starter home is determine the area you want to live in.You should take many things into consideration when making this decision. Do you want city, suburban, or country living?What is the reputation of the school system?Are there shopping, dining and entertainment activities nearby?The answers to these questions aren’t just important for you when you’re living there, but may also have an impact on resale value. Remember, this is your starter home; not necessarily your forever home. So, you should take resale value into consideration when choosing the location. Once you’ve determined WHERE you want to look, you can create a list of what you’re looking for in a home.You may have to compromise on some things, but going into your search knowing what you want will make things less confusing. Home Buying Wish List

  1. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

When buying your starter home, there may be some expenses that you didn’t anticipate.  Don’t risk being blindsided by unexpected expenses.  Do your research and make sure you know what you are getting into.  Here are some costs you may not have thought of:

  • Closing costs
  • Home inspection
  • Moving expenses
  • Setting up your new house

Remember that your Realtor and Mortgage Banker are there to answer questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of their expertise!

If you are considering the purchase of your starter home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 3234-834-1500!

711 Ponce de Leon: Pack Your Bags and Move to Charming Cloverdale!

by The Hat Team

711 Ponce de Leon, Montgomery, Al 36106

MLS# 448224

3 Bedrooms | 3 Bathrooms | 2,495 sqft | Cloverdale/Idlewild

Play VisualTour

 

One of Cloverdale's most charming homes is ready for it's next family! Behind the red door you will find a lovely living room, a formal dining room (currently used as an office), a bright sun room and a huge family room with vaulted ceilings and lots of windows. The kitchen has a butcher block island, wet bar, tons of cabinets and a large laundry room with lots of storage room. Each bedroom has it's own bath. Relax on the covered side porch or patio overlooking a pretty back yard. One block from the concerts in the park and walking distance to restaurants and shops. Check it out today! 

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Features into Your Home

by The Hat Team


Today’s homebuyers are much more environmentally conscious and they are looking for homes that are eco-friendly.  Luxury homebuyers especially want design elements that support sustainability.  The National Association of Realtors' 2018 Report on Sustainability stated that 71% of members noted that promoting energy efficiency in listings was valuable to them.  In addition, millennials are big proponents of “green” living and with millions of them reaching the age where they will be buying homes in the next couple of years, there will be a large desire for eco-friendly homes that will play a part in protecting the planet.

So, how do you make your home more eco-friendly?  It’s surprisingly easy to upgrade your home with green features, while keeping it aesthetically pleasing. Here are some ways to get started:

  • USE ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIGHTBULBS

While they have been around for many years, lots of homeowners are just now beginning to use energy-efficient lightbulbs. They have many benefits, including reducing electricity use and extending the life of the bulb. Per , if each American household exchanged one lightbulb for an energy efficient one, the country would save enough energy to light up to 2.5 million homes each year, and save $600 million in energy costs!One of the most common types of energy efficient lighting are LED bulbs.They come in all kinds of colors and styles and fit into current fixtures, making switching to energy efficient bulb one of the easiest ways to go green.

  • MAKE YOUR HOME A “SMART” ONE

Many people may think having a “smart home” is out of reach; that it’s something only luxury homeowners can afford. But truthfully, it’s one of the best ways to make your home eco-friendly and in the long run, it will save money.Home automation allows appliances to run with the lowest amount of energy required, thus creating lower bills for the homeowner.Automated controls save money, time, energy and reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win for everyone to add smart home technology! How Smart Home Systems Reduce Your Footprint

The desire to eat healthy has many people participating in home gardening. With that in mind, urban home owners have started installing green roofs, if you don’t live in a designated local historic district.There are many benefits to green roofs; they don’t require a backyard, they provide natural cooling, and they are aesthetically pleasing.But most importantly, they are energy efficient. During the summer a green roof protects the building from direct solar heat. When winter arrives, it minimizes heat loss thanks to the extra insulation on the roof. And finally, thanks to the energy conservation it provides, there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

If you enjoy gardening and desire to be environmentally friendly, consider creating a living wall in your home.Not only is a living wall a beautiful, organic addition to your living room, entryway, or terrace, it is also very eco-friendly.It provides natural insulation, reduces energy consumption, and aids in humidity level maintenance.They are especially popular in hot climates because they require less energy to cool your home. 30 Breathtaking Living Wall Designs for Creating Your Own Vertical Garden

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!

3154 Lebron Rd: Renovated Cloverdale Cottage!

by The Hat Team

3154 Lebron Rd, Montgomery, Al 36117 

MLS# 448067

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,860 sqft | Cloverdale

Play VisualTour

 

Quintessential Cloverdale/ Idlewild cottage with a new lease on life!!!!! Short walk to the Park, restaurants, theater, movies and all Cloverdale has to offer.... FRESH RENOVATION.... New kitchen and baths....refinished hardwoods...large laundry room, cozy front porch for friends and family....great location...new rear deck..fenced yard..be the 1st to see...call us or your favorite agent to see before its gone.....

What is Title Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

by The Hat Team


When you are purchasing a home, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the things you need to think about.  Something like title insurance is probably not even on your radar. It’s a fee that will appear on your closing document and chances are you don’t even know what it’s for.  If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered.  Here are five things you need to know about title insurance:

  1. Like other insurance policies, title insurance is something that protects you financially should there be a loss.  In this case it protects you with regard to property ownership. It not only ensures that the property you are purchasing will be legally transferred to you from the previous owner, it also protects you from possible future Title Defects.  There isn’t a monthly premium with title insurance; it is a one-time fee paid at closing.  This one-time payment will protect the insured from title defects for the life of the loan.
  2. Title insurance is important because while a title research company will look into the history of ownership of the home to be sure there are no title defects, there is always a possibility that an issue could arise later due to several reasons such as improperly recorded documents, mistakes in ownership history or other legal matters that occurred prior to your purchase of the home.
  3. There are two types of title insurance; one that protects the home owner and one that protects the mortgage lender.  Your lender will require that you purchase the lender’s policy to protect them from any loss should a problem arise.  The owner policy protects you and will cover legal fees or other losses that occur due to a title defect. You are not required to get an owner policy, but it’s well worth it to have it in place just in case something goes wrong in the future.
  4. It can be frustrating to pay for insurance that you might never use, but it is risky to not have it in place. Think of it as paying for peace of mind.  With title insurance, you will be protected from catastrophic circumstances should a title defect be found.  You could not only lose a lot of money; you may even lose your home.
  5. Title insurance is purchased when closing on your home. You have the option of buying it from whatever company you choose, but if your lender has a preferred company, you may find it less expensive to add your owner’s policy onto your lender’s policy. Average Cost of Title Insurance 2019

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: wsj.com

Last Minute Valentine Date Ideas in Montgomery AL

by The Hat Team


If you turned the page on your calendar this morning and realized Valentine’s Day is only 2 days away, we’ve got you covered! Here are some Valentine's Day date ideas that range anywhere from the traditional romantic dinner to the out-of-the-ordinary.

1. Romantic dinner at the City Grill

The City Grill is a Montgomery staple. It is a beautifully appointed restaurant and a perfect choice for a romantic dinner. Reviews refer to the “City Grill as having the best menu in town. The wait staff is always good and knows their stuff. Nice appetizers and great deserts compliment some truly excellent main courses.”

2. Day at the Montgomery Zoo

Maybe a romantic dinner isn’t your thing but your special someone is an animal lover. If so, consider a day at the Montgomery Zoo. See the Zebras graze on the plains while elephants roam nearby. Discover over 500 animal residents from five continents, all housed in natural, barrier-free habitats. Consisting of over 42 beautifully landscaped acres, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of exotic wildlife and endangered species. Stroll through the Zoo on your own or ride on the miniature train, the Montgomery Zoo is a sight to see!

3. Scenic Boat Ride Down the Alabama River

The Harriott II Riverboat offers a wonderful dinner, dancing, and a romantic cruise down the Alabama River. This is a one of a kind experience and will show your loved one just how much they mean to you. The Valentine Day special includes a two hour intimate dinner cruise, surf and turf dinner, roses, commemorative champagne flute, live entertainment and cash bar access. This special is available Feb 14, 15, and 16.

4. Weekend at Gorham’s Bluff

Gracing the banks of the mighty Tennessee River, Gorham’s Bluff offers gorgeous views as far as the eye can see. The Lodge features splendid views of the Tennessee River form its expansive porch, rooms with stone fireplaces and a restaurant with candlelight dining.

However you celebrate, enjoy being with the special person in your life and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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!

1904 Norman Bridge Court, Montgomery, AL

MLS# 447587

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 covered front porch while enjoying the mature landscaping including azaleas, crepe myrtles, Japanese maples, and majestic magnolias. Entertain on a grand scale in the ample sized living room and formal dining room, both freshly painted and with gorgeous newly refurbished oak hardwood floors. Butler's pantry makes a quaint breakfast nook and boasts a large walk-in pantry with lots of storage. Cook's delight kitchen has plenty of cabinet and counter space, newer appliances, and center work island. Wind down and relax in the cozy den/family room off the kitchen complete with media closet. Main bedroom on the first floor with built in mirrored vanity and bath with wide tub and separate shower. Don't miss the enclosed sun porch with access from the living room and main bedroom. Upstairs there is a cozy window seat on the landing, perfect for reading a good book. Two HUGE upstairs bedrooms, each 15'x25' with cedar lined window seats, two large walk-in closets, and shared bath (also with tub and separate Nubath lined walk in shower.) Location is prime, with proximity to Maxwell AFB, downtown, Cloverdale, two hospitals, Huntingdon and ASU.

Furnishing Your First Home - Choosing Pieces that Will Last

by The Hat Team

Congratulations! You are a first-time home owner!  Now it’s time to furnish your new space.  While you may already have furniture from your previous home, if you are moving into a larger place, chances are you will be looking to add to it.  When deciding what to purchase, it will pay to think long-term so that you can choose pieces that will last, both in quality and in style. Here are 5 pieces of furniture that will stand the test of time;

  1. A SIMPLE BUT STURDY DINING TABLE

A small, well-built table is a great starter piece for your dining room or eat-in kitchen.It doesn’t have to be ornate; you can use table cloths to spruce it up.What’s nice about it…and what makes it lasting…is that when you upgrade to a larger dining room table down the road, you can use this table in your breakfast room, sunroom, craft room, or even as a desk in your office.


Photo Credit: etsy.com

  1. INDOOR/OUTDOOR CHAIRS

When looking for chairs to go with your dining table, avoid upholstered ones and instead look for durable materials that are suitable for both indoor and outdoor dining. Why? Because your dining set of today can be your patio furniture in the future.Look for chairs made of metal or with slats in the seat or back so that they can withstand being outdoors in the rain.


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

  1. A KING-SIZED HEADBOARD

An elegant headboard can dress up a bedroom. It might not be a priority to have one right away, but if you choose to purchase one, go big.Maybe you are sleeping in a double bed right now and you are wondering why you would buy a king-sized headboard for that.Well, down the road when you upgrade to a queen or king-sized bed, you will already have a headboard ready to go! So, choose a wall-mounted or freestanding headboard that will give your double bed a luxurious look now and you will still be able to use it when you get that king-sized bed later!


Photo Credit: pitus.info

  1. A SMALL LEATHER SOFA

You don’t necessarily need a large sofa right away, but it’s still important to have a quality, comfortable one.The family room is often the heart of the home and you will spend a lot of time sitting on your sofa. So, it should not only be comfy, but also made to last.The nice thing about a leather sofa is that while providing a cozy lounging spot for one or two people now, it will age well and become a great accent piece as part of a larger family room later.It will coordinate easily with colors and patterns in a larger seating arrangement.

Top 7 Benefits of Leather Furniture


Photo Credit: livingspaces.com

  1. A CLASSIC SIDEBOARD

A sideboard may not provide a lot of storage, but it adds a lot of style and function to just about any room in your home.Choose a warm, wood unit that will last through years of style and décor changes.It is such a versatile piece that can be used as a storage space/server in a dining area, as a media stand in a family room, as a bedside table in a bedroom, or as the perfect place to display treasures in a foyer or living room.


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

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!

Which Should You Do First - Buy or Sell?

by The Hat Team


It’s time for you to move. Maybe it’s because your family is growing and you need a larger home. Or perhaps your nest has recently emptied and you want to downsize.  Whatever the reason, as a home owner, you not only need to find a new home, you also need to sell your current home.  This brings us to the question…which should you do first?  Buy, then sell? Sell, then buy? Or do both at the same time?  There is no one right answer for everyone, but certainly there is one that is right for you. Here are the pros and cons of each of these options:

BUYING FIRST - PROS

  • One perk of buying a new home before you sell your current one, is that it allows you the time to find the ideal home without having to rush to a decision. There is no pressure to get out of your current home by a certain date, forcing you to maybe choose a house that isn’t quite right.
  • If you are a planner by nature, then knowing where you’re going to be living once you sell your home is definitely a positive aspect of buying first.  It will give you peace of mind to know that you can move directly to your new house once you have sold your current one.
  • If you buy first, you can take your time moving.  You will also have the time to do any work on your current property that is needed, such as home improvements and/or updates, before you put it on the market.

BUYING FIRST - CONS

  • Ideally, you would be able to sell your current home within a month of purchasing your new one so that you don’t have to pay two mortgages.  But there is no guarantee that will happen.  Your house might sit on the market for a while, and if it does, you need to be prepared to make two mortgages each month until it sells.  If this is not something you are able to do, you probably shouldn’t buy before selling.
  • If you buy before selling your income will need to be able to support both mortgages.  This will increase your debt-to-income ratio ( DTI )meaning that if you’re already struggling to qualify for a new mortgage, it’s going to be even less likely you will qualify if you have two mortgages.  You may want to sell first to lower your DTI so you will qualify for your new mortgage.

SELLING FIRST - PROS

  • Depending on the state of the current real estate market, there may be a lot of competition for homes.  In this case, you will find that selling first and having cash on hand will be an advantage when competing with other buyers.  You will also be in a better negotiating position if you don’t need a contingency when you buy. Home Sale Contingencies for Buyers and Sellers
  • When you sell your current home first, you will have a clear picture of how much you can afford for your new home.  It will also provide you with cash to put toward your down payment.  If you can put a full 20% down, depending on your loan program, you can avoid paying mortgage insurance each month. This will save you money over the life of your loan.
  • Selling first will eliminate some expenses.  If you buy a new home before you sell, you will not only be making two mortgage payments until your current property sells, but you will also be paying for utilities in both homes.  These expenses can add up quick!

SELLING FIRST - CONS

  • When you sell your house before you have found a new one, you may have to find temporary housing…which can be a real hassle. Trying to find a place to live on a short-term lease is challenging and becomes even more complicated if you have pets or you are looking for specific school district.  It also means you will have to move…twice. Moving once is stressful enough. Moving twice in a short period of time is exhausting. And when you do find your new home, you may have to juggle both a rent and mortgage payment for a month or more depending on your lease.
  • If you’ve sold your current home, but haven’t found your new one, you may feel panicked about finding a home quickly.  This feeling might lead you to rush your search and to perhaps settle for a home that isn’t right for you.  Buying a home is likely the largest financial investment you will ever make, not to mention the logistical and emotional implications, so it is a decision that you definitely don’t want to rush.

Believe it or not, it is possible to buy and sell simultaneously.  For example, you can make a contingent offer, meaning that your offer is dependent on your current home selling.  A contingent offer may not be as appealing to sellers in a competitive market, but it eliminates the risk of ending up with two mortgages. Another option is to use a HELOC: Home Equity Line of Credit to cover the cost of purchasing a new home while still paying mortgage on current home.  There is also the possibility, depending on your lender, of getting a Bridge Loan to help cover expenses in the time between buying and selling.

There are many factors involved when deciding whether to buy or sell first. Let an experienced Realtor like Sandra Nickel assist you in navigating the home buying/selling process.

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!

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