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3 Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

by The Hat Team

There are a few mistakes that many first-time home buyers make. Here are three of the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them when purchasing your first home.

Mistake #1: Assuming your credit is good.

The information in your credit report determines whether you can get a loan — and how much interest you will have to pay – so it pays to be certain your credit reports are accurate.

Check your credit reports for free from all three credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to make sure everything is correct. If you find errors, contact both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the person, company or organization that provided information about you to a credit reporting company) involved in the errors and ask them to fix the credit report errors.

Mistake #2: Getting pre-qualified, not pre-approved, for a loan.

It’s far better to be pre-approved for a loan than to be pre-qualified. Here’s why…

With pre-qualification, your lender does a preliminary evaluation of your ability to pay for a home and gives an estimate of the mortgage amount they’ll give you. The lender does not verify the information you provide.

Mistake #3: Allowing emotions to influence your decisions.

Buying a home is an investment. It needs to be treated as any other investment. You don’t buy stocks because they are pretty and you shouldn’t pick your home that way either. Make sure the home you buy fits your needs and allows you room to grow over the next few years. As with any sound investment, time is the key to a good return.

If you are a first-time home buyer, I would be happy to help you find (and get the best price for) your first home.

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Sprucing Up for Spring

by The Hat Team

It is that time of the year again, spring has sprung. As you begin thinking about spring cleaning, don’t forget to include the homes exterior in your plans. Whether you are selling your property or plan on calling it home for awhile, every house could use a boost in curb appeal. Curb appeal creates the first impression of your home. If selling your home, curb appeal reflects how well the property is cared for and intrigues buyers to take a look inside. Curb appeal is also a way to showcase your personality and create welcoming scenery for your guests. Spring is the perfect time to spruce up your home’s exterior. The following tips will help you attain enchanting curb appeal.

Start With A Checklist

The first step to enhancing curb appeal is to determine what needs improvement. Take a walk around the outside of your home pretending that you are a potential buyer and take note of things that could possibly impair your first impression. Be sure to consider all factors from possible missing shingles on the roof to rotten wood around windows or doors.

Landscaping

If your home does not receive routine yard maintenance, a through clean up can make all the difference. Start by removing debris, giving the grass a fresh cut, eliminating weeds, and trimming over grown bushes or trees. Keep in mind that bushes should never exceed the height of window sills or extrude growth beyond the threshold of sidewalks. Use a pressure washer to clean the exterior of the house, making sure to leave all windows sparkling. Replace any rotten wood and touch up chipped paint.

The Front Door

Establishing a welcoming entry can really improve the first impression of a visitor or potential buyer. Make sure the pathway and porch leading to the front door is well lit. Use decorative porch fixtures that compliment the color of the house and other hardware. Lining walkways with solar powered garden lights gives the yard a vivid glow after dark. Make the front door a focal point by repainting it a warm, inviting shade that contrasts from the siding and shutters. Use a classic shade of red or go bold and try yellow. 

 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Mother's Day Wishes!

by The Hat Team

The Person who has done more for you than anyone in the world!

A halo that reflects a life of wisdom, kindness, and caring. Eyes that sparkle with pride and show how much she believes in you. Shoulders that have been slept on and wept on and carried a world or two. Arms that never run out of hugs. Hands that know just when to hold on and when to let go. A mind filled with amazing things, from fairy tales to family tails and long-ago stories of you. A smile that can jump right into your heart and warm you faster than hot chocolate. A heart of gold that holds more love than you can possibly imagine.

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Montgomery AL Home for Sale:

440 Clayton St, Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 416323

2 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1 half bath | 2,077 square feet | Hanrick

This early 20th century home will take you back to a bygone era of front porch/balcony sitting, garden entertaining, and elegant Victorian living, without the worry of outdated systems! Wiring, plumbing, insulation, kitchen and baths have all been updated.  Soaring 14 ft ceilings, pocket doors, and original vintage gas lamps that have now been electrified are just a few of the age-old architectural details found within. Long covered back porch overlooks extra deep lot. Basement partially finished and with relatively new full bath could make stunning master suite or efficiency apartment. This quiet, historic neighborhood is within walking distance to Downtown dining and activities.

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Billy Young, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

 

Montgomery AL Home for Sale:

1731 Winona Ave. Montgomery, AL 36107

MLS# 415656

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1,320 square feet | Capitol Heights

Nice updates abound in this adorable Capitol Heights cottage just minutes from everything happening Downtown. The open plan blends living room, dining room and into an updated kitchen.  Hardwood floors are throughout, so no carpet to worry about. Outdoor lovers will appreciate the spacious covered front porch as well as the more private rear deck overlooking a lovely yard and water feature. Great price, so stop paying your landlord’s mortgage and start building equity in your future! Ask us or your favorite Realtor about NO MONEY DOWN financing and lender credits towards closing costs. This is a deal you don’t want to miss!!

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Billy Young, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

 

Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

1333 S Perry St Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 415914

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1 Half Bath | 2,630 Square Feet | Garden District

This classic turn of the century transition home from traditional Queen Anne to Prairie style, is commonly known as "Foursquare". Located in Midtown Montgomery, it contains a grand entrance, high ceilings and decorative fireplace. The entire home is open and flooded with light! Huge rooms let you live large with all the modern benefits of a newer home. The eat-in kitchen will be a favorite spot of family and friends! The updated main bathroom includes a huge walk-in closet! One of many upgrades is a very nice workshop added by past owner. This historic Garden District home is a must see. Only a block and a half south of the Governor's Mansion, this local historic designation will protect your property value! Home will have new HVAC, new plumbing, new electrical, new kitchen, new renovated baths, and much more! Electric gate on drive will also be installed. New flooring and original floors to be refinished.

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Frank Powell, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

SaveSave

Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

443 Clanton Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 415762

2 bedrooms | 1 bath | 1,428 square feet | Garden District

Here's your chance to live in a wonderful updated bungalow in the historic Garden District! Just minutes from downtown, dining, and entertainment, you will be in the "hot" spot of Midtown Montgomery that most hipsters are craving! Generous front porch is perfect for hanging with friends and well-proportioned rooms mean you don't have to compromise space. There is even a cool covered area out back, great for grillin' or chillin'! Beautiful revitalized street with wonderful, fun neighbors. Snap this one up before someone beats you to it!

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Billy Young, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

Home Buying Made Easy

by The Hat Team

If you are currently in the market for buying a house, then you are likely already aware of just how difficult it can sometimes be.  There are many stressors throughout the process that can make the home buying process seem anything but easy.  Below are a few ways that home buying can be made a bit easier if you do your part to put them into action.  
 

  1.  The first and most important thing you need to do before looking for a home to buy is to find an agent.  The reason this part is the most important is because buying a home is a huge financial obligation and you want to choose the right person to help you with such a big decision in your life.  A good way to find an excellent Realtor is to talk with your friends and family members that you trust to see whom they have used in the past.  Once they give you a few suggestions, you can meet each one and see which one best matches your personality wishes.  You will be spending quite a bit of time with this person so you want to make sure that you get along beautifully with them.   
     

  1. The next step in home buying made easy  is to find a lender.  Many times you can find out from your Realtor about what lenders they tend to use or who they think can be the best match for you and your particular situation.  If your Realtor doesn’t lead you to the best match, again you can talk to your friends and family for suggestions.   
     

  1. You then need to make sure your credit is as clean as it can possibly be.  Lenders can many times give you a bit of guidance in this area so that you can get approved for a loan.   
     

  1. It is important that you get pre approved for a loan before you go out searching for the home of your dreams.  The lender that you choose will help you to know exactly how much of a house you can comfortably afford before you get your heart set on one.  
     

  1. Lastly, figure out exactly what you are looking for in a house.  Make a list of your wants and desires in order of their importance.  This will help to guide you in your home buying  adventure and will help avoid wasting precious time.   
     

These are just a few ideas on how to make the home buying process a bit easier.  Once you do your part to put all of these in motion you will be well on your way to finding the home of your dreams.   

 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Keeping Our Children Safe in This Digital Age

by The Hat Team

Technology surrounds us in every aspect of our lives, including this blog; it is always with us especially since it became handheld. Emails are sent and received, topics are searched for, books are written, video conferences are done, and listed homes are viewed online. Our kids aren’t just seeing us constantly be digital but they are becoming more tech-savvy at a younger age themselves, out of necessity in part. Even schools require students as young as lower elementary school to do projects involving computers. As parents we of course want nothing but the best for our children and always want them to be safe, keeping them safe in this digital age can be overwhelming to navigate. 

Here are a few tips I think can be helpful in getting started to keep the kids safe.
Set Rules- Give them a set screen time when they can use digital devices and keep that time a constant. Decide what timeframe you are comfortable with beforehand. Create rules or actions if they break the amount of screen time they’re allowed or sites that are okay, e.g. losing the internet for a few days, not watching a show they enjoy, etc.

Be a part of their computer time- Know what sites your kids are visiting and check in on them to be sure they don’t need assistance and to be sure they are on ‘approved by you sites’.  Setting up an ad-blocker can be useful in aiding with younger children who are still navigating the web. Putting up the computer in a common family area like a dining room, living room or basement will make monitoring their online activity easier. 

Make them aware- Let them know that things can happen online and to be careful of online encounters (e.g.- bullies, people talking to you that you don’t know, things that they know their parents wouldn’t want them to view, etc.). Telling your children, stressing how significant it is, on a regular basis the importance of protecting their privacy and always being aware and alert of what can go on in the digital world we live in.  Whether it is to understand there are cyber bullies around to the various cybercrimes, password strength and security importance and how identity theft works, or how to identify and handle it and being mindful of online profile. 

Parent approved kid-friendly sites- There are sites out there that are parent approved yet kid- friendly and popular. Which still allows them to have fun online and gain experience with technology but they’re still child-safe. Options could include:

•    YouTube Kids 
•    Time for Kids -this website is most likely best for the older ones
•    BBC Kids 
•    Doodle 

As a parent it doesn’t matter where your child goes when it comes to anything digital, when it comes to aiding in keeping them safe remember these guidelines. Teach them information and awareness, give them guidance, and encourage them. 


A couple good websites for additional reading: SafeKids  & iKeepSafe

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

 

Montgomery Alabama Home for Sale: 6506 Taylor Ridge Rd, Montgomery, AL 36116

MLS# 415626

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1,228 square feet | Taylor Ridge

Great 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Taylor Ridge that has been very well maintained! Perfect for a first-time home buyer or someone looking to downsize. Spacious great room with fireplace, kitchen/dining with lots of storage and plenty of counter space. Split bedroom floor plan, patio and privacy fenced back yard. Convenient location just minutes from shopping, restaurants, East Chase, AUM and I-85. Check it out today, this one won't last long!


Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Lauren Layfield, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

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