Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

How You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Relief

by The Hat Team

The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is far reaching and rebuilding after a disaster of this magnitude is a daunting task.  People have lost their homes, belongings, vehicles and businesses.  There are many ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, but it is important that you make sure that if you make donations, they are going to legitimate programs.  Charity Navigator can help you find reputable organizations that are accepting donations for relief.  If you would like to donate specifically to groups located in the areas affected, please consider the following:

Houston Food Bank

Food Bank of Corpus Christi

Houston Humane Society

San Antonio Humane Society

You can also donate directly to Hurricane Harvey Relief through the following organizations:

Salvation Army Hurricane Harvey Relief

Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief

A 2014 article in the online Realtor magazine,, addresses what real estate business owners have gone through after natural disasters.  While After the Storm tells stories of loss and grief, it also offers hopeful stories of rebuilding and success.

How You Can Prepare for a Natural Disaster

by The Hat Team

In light of the recent event in Texas, you may be asking yourself if you are prepared for a natural disaster.  Victims often feel helpless, hopeless and overwhelmed in the days following a catastrophic event like Hurricane Harvey. While you can’t control nature, there are some things you can do to prepare that might make things a little easier for you if disaster strikes.

  1. Educate yourself about what might be coming.  Check out this natural disaster risk map to find out what types of severe weather events that might happen in your area.  Prioritize your preparations by what has the highest odds of happening and go from there. You will also want to familiarize yourself with your insurance policies so that you will know what is and isn’t covered.
  2. Make home improvements that specifically reduce the risk of damage to your home during a natural disaster. For example, if hurricanes are possible where you live, install storm shutters and invest in hurricane straps to help keep your roof in place during fierce winds.
  3. Create an emergency kit that includes the following:
  • Water - one gallon per person per day, for at least three days.
  • Food - a three-day supply of non-perishables (don’t forget a can opener).
  • Battery-powered (or hand-cranked) radio with extra batteries.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Whistle - to signal for help.
  • Cellphone with chargers (or a solar charger).
  • Cash
    If flooding may be an issue, consider adding the following:
  • Life jackets, rain boots, rain gear.

    Supplement as needed with items for any special needs, such as children, pets or any medical conditions. Also, have a "go bag" ready that you can quickly grab should you have to evacuate.
  1. Keep an inventory of your belongings.  Taking a home inventory may seem like a daunting task, but during a time of loss and grief, you will be hard pressed to remember all the contents of your home if they are lost to you.  Having an accurate inventory will not only help ensure that you receive fair reimbursement from insurance, it will also make the recovery process easier.
  2. Make sure your family has an emergency plan and that you have gone over it together. Address things like how you will communicate, where you will go if you have to evacuate, where you will meet if you’re not together etc.

Don’t wait until you start hearing warnings about a severe weather event to start his process.  Get prepared while you are in a calm state of mind and have time to focus on what you are doing without feeling rushed or fighting crowds of people grabbing the last of the water and batteries. You may never have to make use of any of your disaster preparations, but it is always better to be safe than sorry!

Learn more about Hurricane Harvey Relief!

The New Kid Handbook - Helping Your Children Adjust to a New School

by The Hat Team

Moving to a new town can be tough on kids.  Leaving behind friends and familiar places is hard enough; add in the anxiety of starting at a new school and it’s a lot for any child to handle. But while change is challenging, it can also be positive.  Here are some tips for helping your children blossom at their new school:

  1. Prepare your children.  Make them part of the process of learning about their new school. Go to orientation together or arrange for a tour.  Older children, especially, will appreciate the opportunity to get the lay of the land and figure out where their classes are before the first day.  Show them where the bathrooms, gymnasium, auditorium and nurse’s office are. If possible, have them introduced to their teachers.  They will feel much more confident when they start if they are not feeling lost.
  2. Meet friends before school starts.  Tweens and teens may have the opportunity to try out for and/or join sports teams or band during the summer.  This is a fantastic way for them to meet others with common interests.  For younger children, sign them up for day camps either at the school they will be attending (if offered) or at local rec centers.  If your community has a pool or play area, you will likely meet people there that will be attending the same schools.  Joining a community league sports team is also a great way to meet other kids that you’ll likely see at school as well.
  3. Replicate or create first day of school traditions.  If there are things you have always done to celebrate the first day of school, stick with them.  That will give your kids a sense of familiarity and make the change of a new school less dramatic.  If you haven’t established any traditions for back to school, now is a good time to start.  Whether you fix a special breakfast, or take them for a treat at the end of the day, that little extra bit of TLC is sure to make them feel better.
  4. Practice driving to school.  This might sound silly, but the last thing your children need on their first day at a new school is to be late.  If you are driving them to school, choose a weekday to take a test run at the same time you will be driving during the school year.  That way you will have a good idea of what time everyone needs to wake up and be ready to go.  Keep in mind that there will likely be more traffic when school starts, so give yourself a little extra time.  Make sure you know where to drop your children off and pick them up and what the procedures are for the car line.  If you are stressed, your children will be too.  If you know what you are doing, they will feel more confident.  If your children are riding the bus to school, be sure to know where the bus stop is and what time you need to be there.
  5. Make sure your children get plenty of sleep.  Anxiety can make it difficult to sleep well.  Sleep deprivation in turn creates more anxiety.  While you can’t force your children to fall asleep, you can create an environment to aid them.  Limit screen time and make sure all electronics are put away before bed time. Set a bed-time routine and stick to it.  With all the changes taking place in their lives, children need the consistency of routine.
  6. Don’t make it a big deal.  Sometimes the bigger a deal you make something, the more nerve-racking it becomes.  School is everyday business.  Talk openly with your kids about it. Acknowledge that it’s normal to be nervous, but emphasize, that you know they will be ok.  Avoid creating such high expectations that anything less than a perfect experience will feel disappointing to them.

If you are new to the Montgomery, AL area and need information about schools, check out these websites:

Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

3154 Wilmington Rd, Montgomery AL 36105

MLS# 419766

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 2,245 square feet | Southmont

Need a lot of space on a budget near Cloverdale? This could be your chance to own a three bedroom/ two bath home with a two-car attached garage for less than $125,000! Located in the popular South Hull District in Midtown Montgomery, with active neighborhood association, this home has many period details including hardwood floors and built in cabinets. Back yard is fenced, has old brick patio and walkways and could be a showplace. Make this one the 1st on your list to see. Seller needs a little notice please. Thanks!

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


Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

3627 Southview Ave, Montgomery AL 36111

MLS# 420223

3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1,825 square feet | Edgewood

Move-in ready in desirable Edgewood! This Midtown Montgomery home has recent upgrades that include kitchen with Carrara Marble countertops, master bath with marble floors and countertop, guest bath with modern tankless toilet and walk-in shower. Special mix of old and new with huge carved mirror and moldings from the old Montgomery Country Club and three antique walnut doors from France (all courtesy of local architect Arthur Joe Grant). Other features include hard wood floors, two china/silver closets, sprinkler system and master bedroom walk-in closet. Kitchen has new double paned windows that look out onto the large brick patio and the beautiful football field sized back yard (that the owners will miss dearly!) Owner is agent.

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














The Pros and Cons of Having an Open House

by The Hat Team

Is it really worthwhile to have an open house ? Some sellers will insist that having an open house is the best way to sell their home, while others will want nothing to do with having potential buyers traipse through their home.  Real estate professionals have different views on this topic as well.  Some feel they are critical to sales, while others never hold them and some just have them occasionally.  So, if you are trying to decide whether to hold an open house, consider these pros and cons:

Pro - You will attract people who are not sure how to start the home buying process. First time home buyers , in particular, will be curious to look at houses.  By having an open house, you will get the attention of those who simply want to start looking.  You may also find that a potential buyer driving in your neighborhood will see your sign and stop by.

Con - Slim chance of a sale.  Unfortunately, a very small percentage of homes sell because of open houses.  Your Realtor will benefit the most because open houses provide potential clients.  A private showing of your home is much more likely to result in a sale.

Pro - Additional exposure.  It’s your Realtor’s job to make sure your home is getting plenty of exposure.  Because open houses are advertised  through street signs, newspaper ads and internet ads, your home will get a lot of extra exposure.

Con - Unqualified buyers.  People who come to an open house have often not taken the steps to get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.  Chances are, they don’t even know if they can afford your house.  It’s a waste of time for you and your Realtor to have unqualified buyers looking at your home.

Pro - Eliminates pressure.  Because an open house is a laid-back atmosphere, people will feel less intimidated looking around without a seller or Realtor hovering over them. It also provides potential buyers time to analyze the specific details of the home that will help them decided if it is right for them.

Con - Security issues.  Vandalism and break-ins are a sad reality.  The chances of these happening are increased when you are selling a home, especially if it’s vacant. Open houses give criminals the opportunity to look around your home with little supervision, giving them time to plan their crime.

Take time to carefully consider the pros and cons of holding an open house before making a decision about it. Consult with a real estate professional to determine if it is the right thing for your home sale!

If you want our personal viewpoint, Sandra Nickel Hat Team, REALTORS, believes an open house tour of homes is a great marketing technique.  We find that we may not sell the home we’re holding open AND we meet many buyer prospects to whom we will ultimately sell a home.  The buyer for your home may be someone we meet at another open house.

First Time Home Buyers and Unexpected Expenses

by The Hat Team

Buying your first home is exciting.  After getting approved for a mortgage loan, working with a professional REALTOR and finding your dream home, it’s time to settle in and start enjoying your new digs.  Then BAM!  The shock of an unexpected expense slaps you in the face.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Being informed about the possible expenses of being a homeowner will not make spending the money any more fun, but at least you will be prepared.  Here are some ancillary costs of homeownership that you should be aware of:

  • CLOSING COSTS - When closing on your mortgage you will be presented with a long list of costs: mortgage taxes, lender application fees, attorney’s fees, title insurance, recording fees and any potential real estate tax reimbursements if the seller has paid them up front.  Altogether, closing costs are an average of 2 to 5 percent of the total cost of the home.  They will vary state to state.  Closing cost information for Alabama can be found here.
  • HOME MAINTENANCE - Now that you are a homeowner, you are solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your property.  Everything from yard work to cleaning; pressure washing to clearing the gutters…it’s all in your hands and on your dime.  Oh…and fixing things.  Yeah.  When the AC isn’t working or there is a leaky faucet, you will be footing the bill for repairs.  This all sounds a bit scary, but the key is to be prepared.  Go into your home purchase knowing that you will likely be spending about 1% of the purchase price of your home on maintenance annually.
  • PROPERTY TAXES - Property taxes vary by state and can also vary based on city, ordinance, and even specific house.  You can utilize a Property Tax Calculator to get an idea of what your taxes will be when planning for your expenses.
  • UTILITIES - If you’re coming from a rental where your utilities were included with the rent, you may not have considered how much you will need to set aside to pay for electricity, gas, water and sewage costs.  Added to internet, cable and phone bills, it can be quite a chunk of change.  Planning for utility costs is crucial to making sure you can afford to live in a home of your own.
  • HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE - When you get a mortgage, you must get homeowner's insurance as well.  Be sure to do your homework and shop around for the best possible price.  You can get discounts for things like security systems, working from home or bundling coverage for your home with your auto insurance policy.  Educate yourself on what your insurance policy covers so that you’re not left disappointed when you have to pay for something you thought would be taken care of.

Don’t let these expenses scare you off from purchasing a home.  Again, the key is to be aware of them going in so that you won’t be caught unawares when they come up.




Midtown Montgomery Home for Sale:

357 Felder Ave, Montgomery AL 36104

MLS# 419865

4 bedrooms | 3 baths | 1 half bath | 2,984 square feet | Garden District/Cloverdale

The best of everything...classic style and updated features! This beautiful federal-style 2.5 story charmer in Midtown Montgomery  has elegant formal spaces and comfortable living areas. The custom-designed kitchen features high-end appliances and a chef's stove! Spacious den/family room allows plenty of space for different seating areas. Off the kitchen and family room is a BIG covered patio overlooking a private back yard with in-ground salt-water swimming pool. Master bedroom retreat on 2nd floor runs the entire width of the home and has cozy seating area with fireplace. Access the 3rd floor from a spiral staircase and find wonderful split design AND full bath, making a great teen retreat, rec room, home theater, or tons of upscale storage. Detached 2 car garage affords additional storage and great off-street parking.

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

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8




   cdpe    crsHat Lady on Zillow