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Tips for Selling Your House During the Winter Season

by The Hat Team


Selling a home during the winter months presents challenges that you don’t have other times of the year. But they are easy to overcome.  Here are some tips to help you sell your house this winter:

  • Light it Up You want your home to feel light and bright when potential buyers are checking it out.  Pull up the blinds, open the shutters and pull back the curtains at every window.  Turn on all the lights in the house, including the ones in bathrooms and closets.  If you have dark areas in rooms, consider placing spotlights behind furniture to brighten them up.
     
  • Warm it Up Before a showing, pump up the thermostat a couple of degrees higher than you normally would and then turn it down right before the buyers arrive.  That way the heat won’t kick on while they are there. Some HVACS can be loud and that is a distraction you want to avoid. When the temperature is comfortable, the buyer will stay longer, especially on a cold day.  If you have a fireplace, a roaring fire on a cold day lends a lot of charm that will entice buyers.
     
  • Create an Irresistible Ambiance Showcase your home with some lovely touches that will give potential buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Toss some soft throws across the arms of your sofa, have fresh flowers in vases throughout the house, and have pretty place settings on your dining room table. You can even give your bathroom a spa-like atmosphere with some simple touches. 7 Simple Tricks to Make Your Bathroom Feel Like a Spa
     
  • Turn on Some Music Soft music in the background creates a pleasant atmosphere in your home.  Instrumental jazz and classical music is soothing.  But don’t put on a radio station where music is interrupted by commercials.  Set up a play-list that will continuously play without ads.
     
  • Be Careful with Scents It’s only natural that you want your house to smell nice at all times, but especially when potential buyers will be visiting.  But be careful not to overdo it.  Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers, so avoid plug-in or spray air fresheners.  Same thing with burning candles.  A great way to give your house an enticing smell is to bake before a showing.  Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-baked sweets?  But if you do that, make sure you have some sweets to share with visitors so they aren’t disappointed when the smell is not followed up with the goodies!
     
  • Serve Winter Drinks Provide some yummy winter drinks for your visitors.  Hot chocolate or warm apple cider will not only warm them up, it will add to the warm, cozy feeling in the home. 9 Hot Drinks for Winter
     
  • Display Photos of Yard in Spring Outdoor areas aren’t at their best in the dead of winter, so display some photographs of your patio and yard during the spring and summer months so buyers will be able to imagine what it will be like to entertain and play outdoors during the warmer months.

If you plan to sell your home this winter, contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals and let him help you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: primetitle.net

These Pointers Will Help You Sell Your House in Autumn

by The Hat Team


We are in the thick of Autumn, and you may think that you should wait until next spring or summer to sell your house.  While it is true that the warmer months are popular for home sales, that doesn’t mean autumn is a bad time to sell.  Some buyers, such as empty nesters and millennials, prefer shopping for a home when there is less competition from people trying to move before the beginning of the school year.  So, if you would like to sell your house before winter, here are some pointers for making it attractive to buyers during autumn:

  1. Keep the exterior of your home neat and clean.  Curb appeal matters…a lot. It doesn’t matter how pristine the interior is if prospective buyers never walk through the front door.  The first impression is made when they first see the property and if it doesn’t look good on the outside, they may not want to look inside.  There are unique challenges to keeping your yard looking nice when the weather is cooler and the days shorter. If you have a lot of trees dropping leaves, raking will be a full-time job.  You want buyers to see your grass!  Any dead or dying plants and flowers need to be removed or cut back.  Use a fall maintenance checklist to make sure you have your property in the best shape possible.  And if you really want to impress, plant some fall flowers in bold hues to add pops of color to your yard. Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
     
  2. Stage your house for the season, but don’t go overboard.  There are holidays to look forward to during the autumn season.  Potential buyers will enjoy seeing your home decorated accordingly. It will help them picture celebrating the holidays with their own families there. Keep it simple though, because you don’t want to take the focus away from the home itself.  You risk having your house look cluttered if you have too many decorations.  Embrace autumn and the warmth and coziness it exudes.  The smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the crackle of a fire in the fireplace and tasteful autumn décor might be all it takes to seal the deal on a sale! 16 Simple Home Staging Tips for Fall
     
  3. Make sure lighting is sufficient.  There will be prospective buyers who want to see your house after work and with the days being shorter, it might be dark outside when they get there.  You are not going to want them walking into a dark, unlit home.  Turn on the lights inside and out. Exterior walkways and entertainment areas, such as patios and decks, should be well lit.  If you know your house is going to be shown, leave lights on in every room.
     
  4. Price your house appropriately.  It’s important to know what homes are selling for in your area and to price yours accordingly.  Utilize the current marketing analysis to determine the value of your home.  A professional Realtor can help you set the right price for your home taking into account the season and market in which you are selling.  You don’t want to scare buyers away by overpricing your house. How to Price Your Home to Get the Highest Offer

If you are in the market to buy or sell 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: homesrulz.com

Using the Psychology of Color to Help You Sell Your Home

by The Hat Team


Selling a home can be stressful, especially if you need to update it to sell.  But there is a way you can give your home a new look that will attract buyers without breaking the bank.  All it takes is a few cans of the right colors of paint!  By using Color Psychology you can quietly influence potential buyers’ emotions.  Think about how different colors make you feel. Using the right color combinations can make all the difference in how a room feels. For some buyers, a blank canvas is attractive.  By painting rooms neutral colors like cream or beige, people can envision the room decorated in a way that suits them.  However, you don’t want the home to look so plain that it becomes forgettable.  So, it is important to choose the right colors to sell your home. 

  • White - White seems plain, but it also represents purity and cleanliness which is certainly appealing to home buyers. Be careful though, because it can also make a room feel cold and bare.  Consider using it in rooms that have a lot going on; like your kitchen or bathrooms.  It will make them feel bigger and brighter.
     
  • Red - This color represents excitement and can give a room a “wow” factor if used properly. It is associated with energy, passion, and warmth.  But keep in mind that a little bit of red goes a long way!  A huge wall of red might be overwhelming.  Think about using it as an accent color to bring warmth to a room.
     
  • Green - Bring nature indoors for a calming effect using shades of green.  Combined with natural light, green creates a comforting, beautiful aesthetic.
     
  • Blue - Think quiet serenity.  Shades of light blue are perfect for a bedroom to create a tranquil oasis that will make house hunters want to stay!
     
  • Yellow - The friendly color.  Cheerful yellow creates a positive vibe that will influence buyers by making them feel happy in the home.  But you don’t want to overdo it.  Save it for rooms where your family gathers like the kitchen or family room.

You will be amazed by how different your house feels when you simply paint a few walls with the right colors.  Your new decorative scheme can help you sell your home faster without a lot of out-of-pocket expense. Estimated Cost to Paint Home Interior

If you are in the market to buy or sell 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: simple.com

Tying Up Loose Ends When You Move

by The Hat Team

Let’s face it - moving is overwhelming no matter how well you prepare.  There are what seem like a million little pieces that all must fall into place to make a move go smoothly. And even then, it is stressful.  You are upending your life; putting everything you own into boxes and bags, and making big changes.  So, it’s easy to understand how some tasks fall through the cracks and are forgotten.  Here are some important things that many people forget to do (or don’t even realize need to be done) when moving:

  • Cancel recurring charges for local memberships. During the chaos of moving, the last thing you are likely to think about are membership fees for things that may not transfer to your new place of residence, like a gym membership.  And if those fees are automatically charged to your credit or debit card you need to cancel those memberships at least a month before you move so that you don’t continue to get charged even when you’re not there to use them any longer.
     
  • Call your car insurance company. Per the Department of Motor Vehicles,  it is vital to check on your car insurance when moving, as states have varying levels of required coverage.  In fact, insurance rates can even vary from neighborhood to neighborhood in the same city.  So, make sure you call your insurer before you move to see if you need to update or change your coverage at your new address.
     
  • Change your address early.  Changing your address is easy using the Online Form provided by the U.S. Postal Service, but don’t wait until the last minute to do it! If you want to be sure that your mail arrives at your new home in a timely manner, complete the form about two weeks before you move. 
     
  • Take care of your finances.  During the whirlwind of moving, it’s easy to forget the everyday tasks that are a normal part of your routine…like paying bills.  It’s also easy to lose track of paper bills among all the boxes you’ve packed.  Take the time to set up auto pay for things at your new home like mortgage/rent, phone, utilities etc.  This can help assure an on-time payment during a hectic time.  Designate a spot for mail both in the home you’re packing up and in your new home so that paper bills aren’t lost in the shuffle.
     
  • Change your billing address on credit cards.  Don’t get caught by surprise when your billing address doesn’t match the address on your credit card because you forgot to change it when you moved.  Some transactions now require that you put in your billing zip code when using your card, so if that has changed, then you need to change it on your credit cards as well.  The last thing you want is to deal with a transaction being denied and then finding out it was simply because you hadn’t changed the address on your card.

Yes, moving is stressful. But taking care of these often overlooked tasks will make it a little bit easier!

If you are in the market to buy or sell 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: braybray.co.uk

Enjoy the Advantages of Downsizing

by The Hat Team

 

Have you recently become an empty nester with a home spacious enough for a large family?  Maybe it’s time to consider downsizing.  There are numerous perks to downsizing to a smaller home:

  1. SAVING MONEY. You will not only save on your monthly mortgage payment in a smaller home, you will also save money on frivolous living.  One of the advantages of downsizing your home is that you can stop wasting money on furniture and home décor that are used to fill space rather than to fulfill a function.  Filling a smaller space will allow you to prioritize what items are important and necessary for you.
     
  2. LESS STRESS. After working hard all week to pay the bills, it’s no fun to have to spend your weekend doing chores.  A smaller home equals fewer chores and less upkeep. This will free up time to enjoy leisure activities and relaxation.
     
  3. SAVE ENERGY. If you live in a large home, you know that energy costs can be expensive.  Smaller homes will not only save you money on heating, cooling and water costs, it will also allow you to reduce your carbon footprint.
     
  4. FREE TIME FOR TRAVEL. With additional disposable income and less upkeep needed, a smaller home will afford you the time and cash for travel and adventure.  Weekend getaways or even long trips are less of a hassle now that you don’t have to worry about being house-poor.
     
  5. A NEW BEGINNING. Downsizing can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life.  If being an empty nester has you feeling down, a lifestyle change might be just what you need to start focusing on how you want to spend your time, money and energy. 

If you are ready to downsize, let professional Realtor Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team help you sell the house you’re in and find a new home to better suit your needs!  Contact us today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: aarp.org

Seller’s Checklist for Home Inspections

by The Hat Team


It’s very exciting when you accept an offer on your home and you are ready to sell. But that excitement can go away quickly if the buyer’s home inspection doesn’t go well.  Smart homebuyers will never make a purchase without having a property professionally inspected first, so you can pretty much count on that happening.  So, it’s important for you, as the seller, to be prepared for the home inspection.  By identifying potential problems beforehand, you can make the repairs needed to avoid unpleasant surprises during the inspection. Find Out What Home Inspectors Look For

Use this checklist to help you prepare for the home inspection:

 - Make sure that all lights are working and all switches are covered. The same goes    for electrical outlets.  A general home inspection will include a visual review of the electrical system.  If the inspector finds that a light isn’t working, there is a likelihood he will recommend that a licensed contractor to check it out.

 - Take care of routine maintenance.  Put new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and be sure they are working properly. Also, put fresh air filters on your air conditioning units and furnaces.  If buyers see that small things aren’t being maintained, they will be worried that big things aren’t either.  Home Maintenance Checklist

 - Clean out areas around appliances so they can easily be inspected.  It will be difficult for the inspector if your laundry room is full of clothes or the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes.  If you have a gas fireplace, be sure the pilot light is lit so that the inspector can turn it on.  If the inspector is not able to do that, he may suggest to the buyer that you show them the fireplace works before the sale is complete.  That just adds one more thing for you to worry about.

 - Check out the exterior of your home.  View your house the way you would if you were buying it again. Is there peeling paint or hanging gutters?  If so, you can fix these problems prior to inspection so that they are not issues for the buyers.

 - Test windows and doors.  Inspectors are going to be looking for windows and doors that open and close easily.  If you have windows that are sticking, you can fix this with very little money. Simply purchase a silicone spray from a home improvement store.  Clean out the tracks of sliding doors and lubricate them as well, if needed.

 - Paint over old water stains.  Even after you have fixed a leaking pipe or roof, water stains can be left behind.  And even after the inspector has assured them that there any current moisture issues, old stains will scare buyers off just as much as new stains will. 

 - Look for mold.  Mold will scare a buyer away fast!  So be sure to check basements, attics, bathrooms and garages for any signs of mold.  If you find any, deal with it before the inspection…and before you lose your buyers. How to Test For Mold

 - Declutter before inspection.  The inspector isn’t going to care how messy your house it or how it’s staged, but he will appreciate being able to easily access everything he needs to inspect.

 - Don’t try to hide issues.  Honesty matters. If you find something prior to inspection that is going to need to be fixed, notify the prospective buyer.  You don’t want the buyer to think you are trying to hide something.  If you don’t have the money on hand to make necessary repairs, you may be able to negotiate by offering a credit at closing so the new owners can do the repairs themselves.

If you are in the market to buy or sell 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!

Thinking of Selling Your House? You Don’t Have to Wait!

by The Hat Team


With autumn fast approaching, you may think that you should wait until next spring or summer to sell your house.  While it is true that the warmer months are popular for home sales, that doesn’t mean autumn is a bad time to sell.  Some buyers, such as empty nesters and millennials, prefer shopping for a home when there is less competition from people trying to move before the beginning of the school year.  So, if you would like to sell your house before winter, here are some tips for making it attractive to buyers during autumn:

  1. Keep the exterior of your home neat and clean.  Curb appeal matters…a lot. It doesn’t matter how pristine the interior is if prospective buyers never walk through the front door.  The first impression is made when they first see the property and if it doesn’t look good on the outside, they may not want to look inside.  There are unique challenges to keeping your yard looking nice when the weather is cooler and the days shorter. If you have a lot of trees dropping leaves, raking will be a full-time job.  You want buyers to see your grass!  Any dead or dying plants and flowers need to be removed or cut back.  Use a fall maintenance checklist to make sure you have your property in the best shape possible.  And if you really want to impress, plant some fall flowers in bold hues to add pops of color to your yard. Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
     
  2. Stage your house for the season, but don’t go overboard.  There are holidays to look forward to during the autumn season.  Potential buyers will enjoy seeing your home decorated accordingly. It will help them picture celebrating the holidays with their own families there. Keep it simple though, because you don’t want to take the focus away from the home itself.  You risk having your house look cluttered if you have too many decorations.  Embrace autumn and the warmth and coziness it exudes.  The smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the crackle of a fire in the fireplace and tasteful autumn décor might be all it takes to seal the deal on a sale!
     
  3. Make sure lighting is sufficient.  There will be prospective buyers who want to see your house after work and with the days being shorter, it might be dark outside when they get there.  You are not going to want them walking into a dark, unlit home.  Turn on the lights inside and out. Exterior walkways and entertainment areas, such as patios and decks, should be well lit.  If you know your house is going to be shown, leave lights on in every room.
     
  4. Price your house appropriately.  It’s important to know what homes are selling for in your area and to price yours accordingly.  Utilize the current market analysis to determine the value of your home.  A professional Realtor can help you set the right price for your home taking into account the season and market in which you are selling.  You don’t want to scare buyers away by overpricing your house. Montgomery Home Prices & Values

If you are thinking about selling your home this autumn, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with getting it on the market and sold for the best possible price!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Helping Your Parents Move in Their Golden Years

by The Hat Team


There comes a time in everyone’s life when a large family home is no longer needed.  Some people choose to downsize when they reach the empty nest stage, but others stay on until they must move due to circumstances beyond their control. This can be very challenging when it entails moving senior parents out of a home they have lived in for many years.  Even as an adult, it is difficult to see your parents in a vulnerable position of having to leave behind a home filled with memories.  But there are some ways to make it a little easier and less stressful. Here are some tips to help you successfully move your senior parents with as little drama as possible:

  • Focus on one or two mementos to represent your best memories.  When you are packing up your parents’ home, you are likely to come across many items that remind you of your childhood.  It will be tempting to take it all home with you.  Stop and remember that you have likely already gone years without seeing these items.  Create a “keep” pile and after you have sorted through everything, go through that pile and choose a couple of items that are most meaningful to you.  If your parents are downsizing to a much smaller place, help them do the same thing so that the new home will not be overflowing with stuff.
     
  • Use technology to save things.  While it may be emotionally challenging to get rid of items, you don’t have to get rid of them completely. You can take photos of them.  Take pictures of the interior and exterior of the home before you start packing. As you go through boxes, take photos of the many things that have been saved over the years like concert tickets, programs, school reports, children’s artwork, etc.  Then create a photo album that your parent can look at any time. This makes a lot more sense than transferring boxes of treasures from one home to another where they will only be looked at the next time there is a move. 5 Ways Technology is Helping Us Preserve Family Memories
     
  • Don’t seal the boxes until you are done packing up every room.  The best way to make the “move-in” easier is to organize everything during the “move-out”.  For example, pack everything that will go in the new living room into boxes labeled living room. This will obviously include items from the current living room, but it might also include items found in other places in the house.  If you find some photos packed away in the garage that your parent wants to hang in the new living room, you will want to put them in the living room boxes. You don’t want to have to open boxes that have already been taped up and sealed.  So, leave some boxes open until every room has been organized and packed and then when you are sure everything is in the right place, seal them up for the move. A Room-by-Room Guide to Packing Your House for Moving
     
  • Consider trading in the old for the new.  It’s easy to hang on to old furniture that has been in your house forever when you have remained in the same home the whole time, but sometimes it makes more sense to get new things for a new home.  Maybe the old furniture is worn and scratched, or maybe it’s simply too big for the new place. Whatever the reason, a fresh, new look might be just the thing your parent needs to help let go of the past and enjoy a new home where a whole new set of memories will be made.

If you are in the market to buy or sell 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: andrewsmoving.com

What You Need to Know About Selling a Home When Divorcing

by The Hat Team


Moving is one of the top five most stressful life events. Divorce ranks in the top five as well.   Put those two together and you have a meltdown in the making.  If you and your spouse own a home together and you are divorcing, you are going to have to figure out what you’re going to do about the house.  This can be challenging under the most amicable of situations and can be devastating when there is bitterness and fighting.

Since your home is likely the greatest asset that you share, selling it is often necessary when parting ways.  Sentimental value may entice one or the other of you to want to keep the home, but financial implications may keep you from doing so.  Understanding how divorce affects the sale of a home is crucial.  The emotional aspect of splitting up your family can sometimes impair your judgement but making a poor decision regarding your home can have lasting ramifications, long after the divorce is finalized. 

Whether one spouse wants to buy out the other and keep the home or both want to sell and split the equity, selling a house while getting divorced is a rocky road that needs to be navigated intelligently.  When two people are willing to deal with each other in a peaceful, respectful way, it certainly makes the whole process easier. But often this is not the case in these situations.  Division of a home is not simple. 

When each spouse contributed to purchase the home - even if one paid more than the other - you are both going to want your fair share out of it.  Ideally, you will be able to work with an attorney or mediator to come to an agreement out of court, but if you can’t, a judge will decide for you.  This can be a very unpleasant experience for all parties involved.  If both your incomes were factored in the purchase of the house, chances are when you split that in half, neither of you can afford it on your own. If that is the case, the best solution is to sell the home and divide the assets.  There are also tax implications that should be considered when you are trying to decide if you should sell before you divorce or after. Capital Gains Tax and Divorce: How to Preserve Your Biggest Home Sale Tax Break

Should one of you decide to stay in the home, there are a couple of different ways to make that happen.  First, if you have the financial means to do so, you can take over the mortgage by refinancing.  This means you must qualify for the loan and be able to make the monthly payments on your own.  Your ex-spouse will be completely out of the picture.  Another way is to continue co-owning the property.  Perhaps you have children and want to keep them in their home. While this is the least disruptive option, it is precarious and requires a lot of trust.  It would have to be a very civil and friendly divorce for this to work because both parties will be responsible for the mortgage and upkeep of the house.  The bottom line is that if you plan to stay in the home, you better be sure you can afford it.  It would be prudent to work out a budget before you make the decision. 5 Simple Steps to Create a Successful Budget

With all the financial and emotional issues that get wrapped up in the sale of a home during divorce, it’s crucial that you know what you want prior to meeting with your Realtor. It is best for you to meet with your attorneys for them to guide you through the process of deciding how to split the equity. Once you have that done, seek out an experienced Realtor like Sandra Nickel, who will gently guide you through the process with as little stress as possible.

Photo Credit: quickhomeoffers.com

5 Tips for Selling a Home Out of State

by The Hat Team


Best case scenario – you sell your old home and buy your new one at the same time. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way. Chances are you might find yourself in your new dream home while still having a house several states away that needs to be sold.  Selling a house from out of state has its challenges, especially when you are unpacking a new home, settling into a new job and establishing your routine in a new place.  But making a successful sale is not impossible.  Here are 5 tips to help you sell your home from out of state:

  1. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL REALTOR WHO IS EXPERIENCED WITH OUT OF STATE SALES

When hiring a Realtor to handle the sale of your home in your former city, you will want to find someone who has experience with out of state sales.The right listing agent will be experienced in communicating with clients remotely and will be able sell your home quickly.You are going to want to find someone that will keep you up to date with what is going on with your property; someone you can rely on to respond to your phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

  1. FIND A PROFESSIONAL TO STAGE YOUR HOME TO SELL IT FASTER

Since you have already emptied out your former home for your move, staging your home will need to be left in the hands of someone in your previous city.Hiring a professional stager (your Realtor can recommend one) will go a long way toward getting your house sold for the best possible price. Per a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes that are staged sell faster and at higher prices than those that are not staged. Staged Homes Sell Faster

  1. BE SURE THAT CLOSING FROM OUT OF STATE IS AN OPTION

Before you move, take the time to think about how you are going to close on your current house from out of state.Many attorneys require you to be at the closing table in person, so it’s important that you seek one who is willing be more flexible.The cost and inconvenience of having to go back to your previous city for a closing can be avoided if you find someone who will allow youto sign the closing documentsin your new city with a local notary present.

  1. BE THE LIASON FOR YOUR TEAM MEMBERS

Unnecessary back and forth between the people involved in the sale of your house can be avoided by making sure your team has all the documents/paperwork they need throughout the process.You will also want to provide contacts for all your team members so that they can communicate without you as the go-between.

  1. LET YOUR TEAM DO THE WORK

Now it is time to hand over control to your Realtor and the rest of the team so they can handle the sale for you.Some people may find it difficult to relinquish control, but when you are in your new home in another state, you need to place trust in your team to get the job done! 4 Signs You Can Trust Your Agent to Sell Your Home

If you are moving away from the Montgomery area and need a trustworthy, experienced Realtor to sell your home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals do the work for you!  Give them a call today at 334-834-1500!

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