Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Home Seller Checklist - How to Know You’re Ready to Sell

by The Hat Team

It’s a seller’s market right now folks. Demand for homes is high and inventory is low.  So, it seems like the perfect time to list your house, right? Slow down. The market may be prime for selling, but you need to look at your personal situation. Before you put that for sale sign in your yard, it would be wise to consider all the factors that will determine if you are ready to sell.

Here are signs that you are ready to sell your house:

  • You have positive equity.  It’s vital that you are financially prepared to sell your house.  If you have built up equity, that means your home is worth more than you owe on it. Ideally you want to have enough equity to pay off your current mortgage and to make a down payment on a new home.  It’s even better if you have enough to cover closing costs and moving expenses.  If you don’t have positive equity, it is a bad idea to sell.
  • You have cash in the bank and zero debt.  It’s important to have all your financial ducks in a row before selling your house.  Remember, you’re not just selling a house, you are likely buying one as well.  Take time to analyze your finances and budget. If you have paid off your non-mortgage debt and have funds saved, you are ready to enter the home selling/buying process again.
  • A home that better suits your needs is within your reach.  Perhaps you are downsizing, but you want a nicer home or you are looking to move up into a larger home for your growing family. Either way, there is no point in selling your current home if you can’t afford a new one that better suits your needs.  Remember that, ideally, your mortgage payment should be no more than 28% of your income.
  • You are aware of the extra costs involved in moving.  It’s exciting to get approved for a mortgage. Chances are you will get approved for more than you thought you would.  But there is a lot to think about before deciding to sell.  Remember that you will need to probably do some work on your house to get it ready to put on the market.  You will also have to pay the moving expenses.  Make sure consideration of these costs go into your decision-making process.
  • You are emotionally ready to sell. Hopefully you are selling for the right reasons. You have to be ready to put the work into your home that it will take to sell it.  You must be committed to keeping it “show ready” for as long as it takes.  You must be prepared for what might be a tough negotiation.  And finally, you need to be ready to let go of the home where you have created memories with your family.
  • You have an experienced Realtor.  Real estate transactions should be handled by experts. The professionals at Hat Team Realtors understand the market and can provide you with a clear picture of what goes into selling a house. Their advice will assist you in making this very important decision.

Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

850 E Edgemont Ave, Montgomery AL 36111

MLS# 426935

4 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1,846 square feet | Cloverdale

This lovely home is move-in ready with beautiful hard wood floors (no carpet!), two tiled fireplaces, all new light fixtures, cedar closets and smooth ceilings. The fabulous updated kitchen has granite counter tops, a large island and stainless appliances. Both bathrooms have been renovated with tiled showers. The large room off the dining room could be a great master bedroom or even a family room. Situated on a nice corner lot, there is a huge back yard and new deck. Conveniently located in Midtown Montgomery, it is walking distance to Cloverdale Bottom Park, restaurants and entertainment. Come see it today!

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

Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

1536 Gilmer Ave, Montgomery AL 36104

MLS# 426842

5 bedrooms | 4 baths | 1 half bath | 3,780 square feet | Cloverdale

Conveniently located in Midtown Montgomery and situated on an estate lot in one of the most desirable blocks of the Garden District, this lovely home is looking for its next family to love and care for it. Just some of the special features include beautiful hardwood floors throughout, pretty crown moldings, two wood burning fireplaces with marble mantles and lots of built-ins. Downstairs room was converted into a master suite with large bath and huge walk-in closet, or master could be upstairs with a wonderful dressing room. Recent renovations have been made to three of the bathrooms as well as the kitchen and butler's pantry with wet bar. If you enjoy being outdoors, there is a wonderful covered porch, brick patio, storage barn and a gorgeous private yard with sprinkler system. Great house for entertaining, the kids will want to invite all their friends over to play. Come check it out today!

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



The Potential Cost of Skipping a Home Inspection

by The Hat Team

With all the fees and expenses involved in purchasing a home, it may be tempting to skip the  home inspection to avoid spending the money.  But in the long run, it may cost you more to skip it.  Home inspections sometimes reveal things that ultimately could have cost you way more than the fee involved.

While you might believe that sellers are being honest about the condition of the home, it’s important not to take their word for it.  Truthfully, they probably are being honest.  But they don’t necessarily see what could be “wrong” with the house any more than you do.  That’s why you need an expert to come in and do the inspection. They can find things that never would be noticed by the naked eye because they know what to look for. Home inspectors can also give you advice and things to look out for in the future. With that information, you can have an idea of how to prepare for potential costs down the road.

A home inspection can be a deal breaker as well.  For example, if sellers offer a discounted price or cash back for skipping the inspection, walk away from the deal.  This is a huge red flag!  A home inspection only takes a few hours and is paid for by buyers, so there is no reason sellers should protest unless there are critical issues in the home they know about and are trying to hide.

When hiring a home inspector, you want someone with many years of experience and proper certifications and licenses. You also want someone who will be thorough…willing to go through the basement, attic and up on the roof to check out every nook and cranny of the home.  It’s important to gather as much information about the house as possible so that you know what you are getting in to.

It is not mandatory for you to be present for the inspection, but it’s a good idea to be there.  Some inspectors are happy to have you walk along with them and ask questions as you go.  Others will want to do the inspection on their own and then have you do a walk through with them after they are done.  Either way, be sure to look carefully through the report they give you and ask as many questions as you want.  Remember that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to have them go over the report with you so that you have a clear understanding of it.

Even if your inspection comes up clean, the fee you pay is worth the price to have peace of mind. Include it in your home-buying budget and don’t think of it as an “extra” expense.  It is a crucial element of your decision in purchasing the home and paying a $450 fee and finding nothing wrong is better than skipping it and ending up having to spend thousands to repair something!

Don’t Let These Deal Breakers Ruin Your Home Sale!

by The Hat Team

When trying to sell your house, you want to make the best possible impression on potential buyers.  While some buyers will say that they knew a house was right for them the minute they walked in the door, other buyers will tell you they knew immediately that a house was NOT right for them. Sometimes deal-breakers are personal, but often they apply to many and can damage your chances of a profitable sale (or any sale at all).  Avoid these deal-breakers to get the best deal when you sell:

  • Pests - It seems obvious that people would be turned off by seeing bugs in a home, right?  But sometimes homeowners get used to having “bug problems” and don’t think about how they might negatively influence buyers.  Seeing one or two bugs, like maybe a fly or random little spider, might not be that big of a deal. But if a roach crawls out while people are looking at your house? Forget it.  They are out of there!  If you have any kind of infestation, you need to nip it in the bud before you start showing your house.
  • Pets - Just because you love your pets and consider your home very “pet friendly” does not mean other people feel the same way.  There are a myriad of reasons why having pets can ruin a home sale. Sometimes it’s simply that animals make people nervous.  Taking your pets out of the home during showings can solve that problem.  But other things, such as visible food bowls, kitty litter boxes etc. can turn off people who don’t live with animals.  And any kind of pet odors can do a lot of damage as well.  It is a good idea to make sure your house is free of any pet paraphernalia and pet odors before opening it up to buyers.
  • Small/Outdated Kitchens - Big, open kitchens are one of the most desirable features for homebuyers.  If you have a cramped, closed off kitchen, updating it before you put it on the market will be well worth it.  Not only will you be able to sell it faster, you will get a better price for it and odds are you will likely recoup the money you spent sprucing it up and then some.
  • Cheap Upgrades - Poor quality shows.  While you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a house that you are leaving, you also don’t want to hurt your chances of selling it by making cheap upgrades and repairs that are poorly executed.  Unless someone is looking for a “fixer upper”, they are going to lose interest quickly if they see a lot of shoddy upgrades.
  • The Roof - A roof in bad condition will scare away potential buyers quickly.  The idea of buying a house and immediately having to foot the bill for a new roof is not appealing.  If your roof is old or in need of repair/replacement, take care of it before putting your house on the market.  Otherwise, expect to have to lower your asking price. If your buyer is obtaining a loan, the lender may well require you replace the roof before closing.  A new roof will not only improve resale value, it will also boost curb appeal, both of which will increase your chances of selling and getting the best price possible!

Titus AL Home for Sale: 225 Stoney Point Rd, Titus AL 36080

by The Hat Team

Titus AL Home for Sale:

225 Stoney Point Rd, Titus AL 36080

MLS# 426495

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 2600 square feet | Lake Jordan

This picture- perfect house sits on 1.82 acres of private woods and professionally landscaped yard complete with a sprinkler system and a well. The living space has an open floor-plan and there's plenty of room for all your family and friends to hang out. Walk out on the huge screen porch that has a spectacular view of big water. There are double docks and water has been dredged all the way up to dock closest to the house. Walk right in and begin your life on the lake as soon as you get the key!

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



Guide for First Time Home Buyers - 5 Steps to Get You Started!

by The Hat Team

Buying your first house is a monumental milestone in life.  It’s likely the largest financial commitment you will have made up to this point.  You want to get it right.  Here is a basic overview of five essential things you need to know when taking this step.

- Hire a Realtor.  Having an agent will save you time.  They can send you listings directly from the MLS that fit your wants/needs and you won’t waste time looking at properties that might already be under contract. Realtors are also often aware of new listings that are not yet on the market.  And while house hunting, there is no point in wasting your gas when an agent will pick you up and provide transportation.  The advice you will receive from a qualified Realtor will be invaluable in the buying process.

- Figure out what you’re looking for.  Searching for the right home can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not even sure what you want.  Come up with a list of must-haves and desires that you can present to your Realtor so that they can provide listings that fit those parameters.

- Get a loan.  It is smart to get loan preapproval prior to making an offer on a house…especially in a seller’s market where you may be competing with other buyers. Sellers want assurance that you will be able to complete the purchase of the home.

Negotiate the offer. Don’t make the mistake of comparing the sale price to other homes you have seen because the truth is, sellers can ask any amount they want for a house.  Your agent can provide you with comparable sales of similar houses in the same condition and location over the past few months. Keep in mind that you may have to pay more than the list price in a seller's market.

- Do a home inspection. Some states will allow you to have a home inspection prior to making an offer on a home. In other states, the inspection becomes a contract contingency, meaning the buyer has the right to cancel the contract.  Either way, you don’t want to get locked into purchasing a home that has a faulty foundation, for example.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone! Contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals at Homes for Sale in Montgomery Alabama to help you find your first home today!


Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

2340 College St, Montgomery AL 36106

MLS# 424670

4 bedrooms | 3 baths | 2,448 square feet | Cloverdale

Don't be fooled by look of this charming Midtown Montgomery cottage - it's actually a 4 bedroom, 3 bath split level! Located on a large lot in the heart of Old Cloverdale, this is only the second time this unique property has been on the market. Formal living room with beautiful marble fireplace, formal dining room with two built-in corner cabinets, recently updated kitchen with tiled counter tops, stone back splash and stainless appliances plus a built-in for the perfect spot for family and friends to gather. There is plenty of room to spread out with the upstairs family/rec room and the lower floor den/study. Lovely brick patio off the lower floor and large nicely landscaped back yard. Don't miss this rare Cloverdale opportunity!

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


Defeat Debt and Become a Homeowner in 2018!

by The Hat Team

As a real estate agent, I love helping people purchase their first home.  However, there are two major challenges that I see time and time again with first time home buyers:

  1. They often carry too much debt.
  2. They don’t have enough cash for a down payment.

These two issues are strongly related in that people need to reduce debts that inhibit them from saving money.

We all know that we shouldn’t spend more than we earn, but falling into the debt trap is easy to do.  You see a pair of boots that you must have and you think, I will use my credit card now and pay for them with my next paycheck.  It sounds reasonable at the time, but next thing you know you’ve done something like that often enough that there is a beastly credit card balance hanging over your head.

So, now you’re in debt.  You have regrets, but no use doing the “should have, would have, could have” dance.  Now it’s time to move forward and take the steps needed to reduce your debt.  Here is a list of things to do to change the way you manage your money.  Follow these steps and before you know it you will be on your way to saving for a down payment on your first home!

  1. Stop adding to your debt. The first step to getting out of debt is to stop adding to your outstanding balances. To remove temptation, carry only one credit card with you…and make sure it is the one with the lowest limit so that it is impossible to get into serious trouble with it.  Leave any other credit cards in a safe place at home to keep yourself from going on an impulsive shopping spree. 
  2. Take an inventory of your spending habits. This may not be a fun activity, but it is helpful to see how you are spending.  Create a list of where your money goes each month including rent, utilities, car payments, food, credit cards etc. Once you have done this, split the list into two categories: bills you must pay every month and debts you need to pay off.  The second list then can be organized in order of urgency, either based on outstanding balance or highest interest rate.  Now you will have a clear picture of your debt situation. Financial Inventory
  3. Eliminate the largest debts first. Make a minimum payment for each of your credit card bills, but then make an extra payment on the bill that is at the top of your list. Do this monthly until that bill is paid in full.  Now take the money you were using for that bill and start applying it to the second item on your list.  Continue this until all of them are paid off. 
  4. Cutting expenses and making the payment.  If you are already in debt, how are you going to find money for an extra payment?  Well, some sacrifices will have to be made.  Cutting back on extras like trips to Starbucks, entertainment and eating out can free up cash that can go toward that extra payment each month.  Cutting Monthly Expenses
  5. Prepare for the Unexpected. Sometimes life is a struggle and unexpected challenges such as car repairs or medical expenses will pop up from time to time.  As you cut expenses and start to save money, set up an emergency savings account just for these occasions.  That way you will be prepared and won’t have to use a credit card and add to your debt.
  6. Lower your interest rates. Give your credit card company a call to see if they will lower your interest rate. If they say no, shop around for a card with a lower rate and transfer your debt (be careful of transfer fees to make sure the transfer benefits you). You can also seek out a consolidation loan from your bank. They will pay off your debt and you can pay them back at a lower interest rate. How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate
  7. Stick to it!  As you see your debt decrease and see your cash increase, don’t fall back into old spending habits. As you have more money available, put it right into your savings and soon you will have the money you need for a down payment on your first home!

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9




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