Real Estate Information Archive


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4 Tips for Buying Your First Home

by The Hat Team

If you are in the market to buy your first home, you have come to the right place.  We are going to give you a few tips that might make buying your first home a good experience.  Buying a home can be a fun and exciting experience.  Buying your first home is a monumental time in your life and needs to be done right to assure you get all that you want out of it. 

  1. home buyerThe number one tip for having a great first time home buying experience is to find the right Realtor.  Sure you can find a Realtor quickly and easily as they will all likely be eager to help you with your home purchase but if you don’t find the right one you may be sorry later.  It is good to find a Realtor that shares some of your personality traits.  You may want to actually interview a few different agents before making your decision.  A good place to start looking for an excellent Realtor is by asking your friends and family members who they may recommend.
  2. Finding the best mortgage lender is also a key to a quality first time home buying experience.  Lenders are a dime a dozen so you need to be careful who you choose.  You may find that one lender in your area of town may offer a much better deal than one on the same side of town.  Again you may want to “interview” a few different lenders to find out who is willing to give you the best deal possible.  Keep in mind that mortgage lenders are basically sales people.  They are trying to get you to get your mortgage with them versus another lender.  Use that to your advantage.
  3. When buying your first home, be sure not to let your feelings and emotions get in the way if you get bad news. For example,  if you have your heart set on a particular house and then you find out that it is way out of your price range or that there are many problems that need addressing with the home  you are going to need to be able to quickly move on to the next house without getting upset about it.  You can make any house a home once you move in and put your own personal touch on it so don’t get discouraged and don’t be too quick to jump into purchasing the first house you see or like.
  4. Before buying your first home it is a good idea to have all of your financial affairs in order.  For instance if your debt to income ratio is a bit off you need to work on that before making a home purchase.  You are going to want to get the most house for your money and by doing your best to get your finances in order and get pre-qualified before you start looking you will be moving in the right direction. 

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Montgomery AL Home For Sale: 2185 Woodley Rd

by The Hat Team

Montgomery AL Home For Sale:

2185 Woodley Rd, Montgomery AL 36111
MLS# 318131

Your Dream Home Awaits!

2185 woodley rd

Your dream home awaits! Buy this home and lovely lot and either renovate or demolish the structure to make way for the home of your dreams. Whether you're the creative type yourself or have an architect or designer, the potential of this location will be obvious. Attractive financing products make it easy to go from concept to completion. And the end product will be surrounded by other homes of extremely high value, too. So think big and call your REALTOR today!

Search all Montgomery AL Real Estate And Homes For Sale.

Sandra Nickel and the Hat Team have distinguished themselves as leaders in the Montgomery AL real estate market. Sandra assists buyers looking for Montgomery real estate for sale and aggressively markets Montgomery AL homes for sale. Sandra is also an expert in helping families avoid foreclosure through short sales and is committed to helping families in financial hardship find options. For more information you can visit

Interested in buying a bank-owned home? Get bank-owned listings alerts FREE!

You can reach Sandra by filling out the online contact form below or give her a call anytime.

Montgomery AL Home For Sale: 208 N Lewis St

by The Hat Team

Montgomery AL Home For Sale:

208 N Lewis St, Montgomery AL 36107
MLS# 318000

Incredible Old House Renovation!

208 n lewis st

Who says you can't have it all?! You'll get the best of both worlds with this priced-to-sell 1920's era bungalow! Old home charm and modern updates make this a great first home. Contemporary stainless steel appliances, spacious rooms and storage spaces, hardwood flooring throughout most of the house and a backyard deck - what more could you ask for? Call us at (334) 834-1500 for a tour.

Marketed by Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Montgomery AL Duplex For Sale: 3201 Audubon Rd

by The Hat Team

Montgomery AL Duplex For Sale:

3201 Audubon Rd, Montgomery AL 36106
MLS# 318015

Savvy Investor Gem!

3201 audubon rd

Classic Cloverdale architecture, a tucked-away and highly sought after location in Midtown, and quality tenants who pay and care for their homes. What more could a savvy investor want?! So call now to see first-hand why this property needs to be in your portfolio!

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel HAT TEAM!



Midtown Montgomery Real Estate Market Trends - April 2015

by The Hat Team

Decades ago, it was not uncommon for people to work at the same job for the entirety of their professional career. Similarly, many people kept the same home their whole lives. Those trends, however, have shifted. Today most homeowners buy and sell several homes throughout their lifetime. The reasons to sell one’s home vary—changes in family situations, neighborhood transformations, financial changes, and many others. However, the most popular reasons sellers decided to leave their home for another are quite simple—people moving to new areas and outgrowing their homes. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 15 percent of sellers sold their previous home because the place was too small. That number was much higher (30 percent) among first-time sellers. Additionally, another 15 percent sold their last home due to job relocation. Are you considering selling your home? Get a free current market analysis here.

Take a look at April 2015's real estate sales statistics.

April 2015 Midtown Montgomery Real Estate Market Update

Midtown Montgomery real estate sales statistics for April 2015, show the number of homes remain the same. The average sales price decreased by 3.47% to $153,448 for the month. The median sales price decreased by 1.85% to $127,500, and market times decreased by 24 days.  The highest selling price decreased by 1.51%, and the lowest selling home price decreased by 3.45% compared to $14,500 from April 2014.

Midtown Montgomery  April 2015   April 2014
Homes Sold 30 30
Average Selling Price $153,448 $158,971
Median Selling Price $127,500 $129,900
Days On The Market 135 159
Highest Selling Price $391,000 $397,000
Lowest Selling Price $14,000 $14,500

For the latest Midtown Montgomery real estate market conditions in your area, please call me at 800-HAT-LADY or visit

Information is provided by the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors and is deemed accurate but not guaranteed.

Live the Dream

by The Hat Team

Consumers are more easily living the American Dream of owning a home because of the incredibly low mortgage rates. Today, most buyers can get a much lower rate than their parents or grandparents got on their first home.

American dream2.png

In a recent housing survey, FNMA released information about consumers' thoughts on the current market. Almost two-thirds would rather buy than rent and believe that now is a good time to buy. Half of the respondents expect rent and home prices will go up.

Top Ten reasons to move the dream to reality:

  1. It’s cheaper than renting in most cases
  2. Avoid rental increases in the future
  3. Equity build-up with amortization of each payment going to principal
  4. A home is a forced savings account
  5. Appreciation increases your equity and your overall investment
  6. Mortgage interest and property tax deductions
  7. Home equity interest deduction
  8. A place you can call your own
  9. A place to share with friends and family
  10. Capital gains exclusion on profit

Buyers need the confidence that they can afford a home and proof for the sellers when they’re ready to submit a contract. If a buyer has steady reliable income, a good record of paying their bills, money saved for a down payment and are prepared to pay the mortgage each month, the next step is to get pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional.

Take a look at the Rent vs. Own to see what the real cost of owning a home for your price range.

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team Realtors.

Tips For Choosing the Right Counter-Tops

by The Hat Team

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, you likely will want to do a bit of renovating before doing so.  A great way to spruce up your home in order to sell it is by replacing the old kitchen counter-tops.  This is an easy upgrade that doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.  Here are a few different kitchen countertop ideas  to get you started in the right direction and weigh the pros and cons of each.  

  • countertopsGranite counter-tops are all the rage and it seems that everyone is putting these in their homes these days.  A good thing about granite counter-tops is that it is very hard to damage them.  Granite counter-tops are basically fool proof.  They will cost you around 2,000-6,000 but are well worth the money.  The only con I can think of when it comes to granite counter-tops is that you may need to reseal them every now and again because the edges and corners can chip.  This will need to be done by a professional.
  •  Soapstone and marble are some other good ideas for replacing your current counter-tops with as well.  These types of materials will cost you anywhere from 2,800-8,400.  If you have this kind of money to sink into your counter-tops you may find that your home will go for a bit more when it comes to selling it.  Soapstone typically scratches easily and may even stain although it is very beautiful.   Marble also can have these types of problems as well being easily damaged from heat.  If you are selling your home you may be able to get a higher asking price if you put marble or soapstone counter-tops in, but if you are going to be living in your house and you want maintenance free counter-tops you may want to stick with granite instead.  You are going to have beautiful new counter-tops not matter which material you decide to use, so whatever you choose to do will be a winning situation.  
  • Quartz is always an option when replacing kitchen counter-tops.  It looks a lot like stone but it won’t require as much maintenance.  You can get all sorts of cool colors if you choose quartz counter-tops.  If you are going to go with quartz counter-tops I would suggest that you have the edges rounded as they can sometimes chip and need to be repaired. 

Hopefully this blog has given you a few ideas if you are planning to replace your kitchen counter-tops.   Whether you plan to live in your home for many more years or you are planning to put it on the market, a nice new kitchen counter-top can do a lot for a home. 

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team.


Things to Think About Before Moving To the Country

by The Hat Team

Moving to the country may sound appealing to you however there are a few things you need to think about before doing so.  Living in the country can be rewarding if you are willing to take a few things into consideration before moving there.  Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city may be just what you are in need of.  In this blog post we are going to give you a few tips for making your move to the country a peaceful one.

  • countryRealize that most homes out in the country require that you have a well.   Well water although great tasting may need a bit of work in order to get it ready to drink.  Sometimes well’s can be costly if you are moving to a rural area that has hard water.  Just be sure to keep this little fact in mind before you move out to the country and you won’t be surprised by it if you end up needing to purchase some sort of water softener. 
  • Realize that your commute to work may be a bit longer if you work in the city and choose to purchase land or a home in the country.  If living in the country is important to you and your family then making the sacrifice of driving a little bit further to work may be worth it to all of you.
  • Buying land or a home out in the country is also going to mean a more difficult time driving anywhere in the event of inclement weather.   You and your family may have to settle in for a few days and just enjoy one another when bad weather comes once you move out to the country.  This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the way you look at it.  It is just good to be aware that rural roads typically do not get cleared as fast as roads in the big cities when bad weather sets in.  You may want to consider buying a four wheel drive if you purchase a home in the country so that you can more easily maneuver around the snow covered country roads.
  • The cost of trash removal can get quite expensive in the country.  Many folks that live in the country take their trash to the local dump because they can save quite a bit of money that way. 
  • If you are considering buying a home in the country to get away from loud neighbors, be aware that you may have to deal with gun shots and folks hunting within walking distance of your home once you move out on a bigger piece of land. 

If moving to the country sounds appealing to you and none of these items we have listed for you to think about bother you, then you are likely going to enjoy living in the peace and tranquility the country life has to offer you. 

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Mortgage Rates: Deal Of The Century?

by The Hat Team

Recently, Freddie Mac published a blog post titled Mortgage Rates: Still the Deal of the Century. They explained that, if you are planning to purchase a home, now may be the time:

mortgage"If you are in the market to buy a home, today's average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 3.67% this week. If you take out a $200,000 mortgage at this rate to buy that home you've had your eye on, you'll pay $917 in principal and interest payments each month. One year ago, when mortgage rates were higher and averaged 4.27%, this same mortgage would have cost you an additional $69 in monthly interest payments or $828 per year.

Over the past few years, we've enjoyed a long run of historically low mortgage rates. While no one expects them to change dramatically overnight, they are expected to head up. Most experts agree that mortgage rates will drift up in the coming months to end the year approaching 4.50%.

Since 1971, when Freddie Mac began tracking mortgage rates, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% in October of 1981 to a low of 3.31% in November of 2012. Looking at the all-time highs and lows compared to more recent history offers a good perspective on how your payments on the same $200,000 mortgage would change as mortgage rates change.

  Date Average 30-year Fixed Mortgage Rate Approximate Monthly Payment on a $200,000 Mortgage
One Year Ago April 17, 2014 4.27% $986
This Week April 16, 2015 3.67% $917
Year-end 2015 (Forecast) December 31, 2015 4.50% $1,013
All-Time Low November 21, 2012 3.31% $877
All-Time High October 9, 1981 18.63% $3,117

Source: Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Tracking through the PMMS began in March 1971. Mortgage payments are principal and interest only, based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage. All terms are assumed to be 30 years.

Buying a home is a big investment – perhaps the biggest one you'll make in your life. So, it's important to be sure you are ready to make that purchase. If you are ready, today's rates are not to be missed."

For more information and tools on buying a home and homeownership give us a call or shoot us an email.

Pay More or Less

by The Hat Team

Paying more for your house payment does not make your home more valuable. It does mean that the mortgage rate may be higher than it has to be.

more or less.png

Even though fixed rates may never again be as low as they are currently, an adjustable rate mortgage may provide the lowest cost of ownership depending on how long a borrower plans to own a home. There are different types of ARMs but the one in this example is a 30 year mortgage with the rate fixed for five years and can adjust every one year after that based on independent indexes.

Another feature of a FHA ARM is the maximum rate change in one period is 1% and the maximum lifetime cap is 5% over the initial rate.

In the example below, the payment on the adjustable is $153.48 lower for the first five years or 60 payments. Another interesting thing is that lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher interest rate loans. In this example, the ARM has a lower unpaid balance at the end of the first five years by $4,239.

The total savings on the ARM at the end of the first period is $13,477. If a borrower felt confident they would sell the home prior to the breakeven point of 8.5 years, the ARM would produce a lower cost of housing even if the mortgage rate escalated the maximum at each adjustment period.

To help determine whether you pay more or less, consult with a trusted mortgage professional and your real estate agent to learn the advantages and disadvantages of different programs. To try your own comparison, check today’s rates at the Freddie Mac Mortgage Rate Survey and plug your numbers into an Equity Accelerator.

ARM comparison2.png.jpg

Information courtesy of Montgomery Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14




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