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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

A How-To Guide to Buying a House Quickly

by The Hat Team


If you are in the market to purchase a home right now, I am sure you would like to be moved in and settled by the time the holidays arrive.  Does that sound too good to be true?  Well, no promises, but there are steps you can take to buy a home fast.

Whether you are buying a house for the first time, or you have navigated the home buying process before, chances are you know that it can be lengthy and complicated.  But there are certain strategies you can use that will speed things up. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Chose the right type of house.  There are certain types of homes you will want to avoid if you’re in a hurry.  Co-ops, for example, can be problematic because it can take six to eight weeks to get a board interview scheduled, finalized and approved.  You should also avoid bank-owned homes or foreclosures, which generally take much longer to close.  The fastest way to go is to focus on condos or new developments. Closings for condos and new developments can take as few as three to four weeks to happen.
     
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This is a strategic move that will give you a head start so that when you do find a house you want to purchase; you will already be approved for a mortgage loan and can make an offer right away.  This will also help you to stay within your budget when looking at homes because you won’t want to waste time looking at properties that cost more than what you are pre-approved for. How to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
     
  • Have your documents in order and ready to go.  Get all the paper work that you will need organized so that it is ready and waiting when you find the right home.  Generally, a home buyer will need the following: federal tax returns for the past two years, supporting information such as W-2, 1099, or other tax forms for the past two years, two months’ worth of bank statements for your checking, savings, 401K, retirement and other accounts, and pay stubs from the past month. Homebuyers: What to Bring to Your Closing
     
  • Find the right Realtor to guide you through the process.  You will want an experienced, professional Realtor like Sandra Nickel who knows the area well and can use their expertise to get you into a home quickly.
     
  • Offer to shorten contingency deadlines.  Don’t risk waiving home inspection or financing contingencies, but consider a shorter time frame to effect a faster closing.
     
  • Be prepared for your move.  Don’t wait until you have closed on your new home to start packing and preparing for your move.  Start early so that as soon as you close, you are ready to go!

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: veteransunited.com

How to Simplify for a More Peaceful Life

by The Hat Team


With summer in the rear-view mirror and the holidays approaching, life has likely gotten a lot more hectic. Chances are you have multiple schedules to juggle and little free time.  Now is a good time to simplify your life and eliminate as much stress as possible. Get started with the following steps:

  • Let go of extraneous possessions.  Having too many "things" can be detrimental to a peaceful life.  They cause clutter, drain your bank account and use energy and attention that could be elsewhere.  Take the time to remove unnecessary possessions from your life and you will not regret it!
     
  • Learn to say no.  Too many commitments will not only take up time, but will leave you feeling like you can’t really give 100% to anyone or anything.  Prioritize what is most important to you, whether it’s a book club or a hobby or volunteering.  After working and taking care of your family, you want to make the most out of the free time you have. Filling it with activities you don’t really care about out of some sense of obligation will leave you feeling tired and unfulfilled.
     
  • Get organized.  There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find something when you need it.  Imagine the time and energy that will be saved if you don’t have to search for your keys or the phone charger or your child’s permission slip that you signed last week.  Having a place for everything and knowing where it is when you need it will make your life much less stressful and free up more time for fun and relaxation. How Clutter Affects Your Health
     
  • Reduce screen time.  How many times have you run late for something because you just had to read one more article on the internet.  It’s easy to get sucked in when so much information is available so easily.  But too much screen time means too little REAL time.  Don’t let the screen dominate your life.  Make a conscious effort to unplug and free up more time for other activities.
     
  • Stop multi-tasking.  It may seem unavoidable when life is so busy, but research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity.  Focus on one task at a time, give it 100% of your attention, and when you are done move on to the next task. How Multitasking Affects Productivity and Brain Health
     
  • Ask for help.  Sometimes life is hard.  Trying to do everything yourself can leave you feeling defeated and deflated.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

These are just a few ideas for ways to simplify your life.  If you are buying or selling a home, you can count on Sandra Nickel and Her Hat Team of professionals to make the process as simple as possible for you! Give them a call today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: frugalfamily.co.uk

616 Clayton Street: Historic Cottage Hill Beauty!

by The Hat Team

616 Clayton Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104

MLS# 454962 

2 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 2,057 sqft | Cottage Hill

This marvelous Queen Anne-style historic Cottage Hill home features wide wrap-around front porch perfect for relaxing with family and friends. Stunning architecture inside includes heavy moldings, 12 ft ceilings, decorative mantles, and large wood pocket doors. Spacious rooms and great restorations add to the charm of this vintage home. Just minutes away from booming downtown and all it has to offer. 

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

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!

How to Host a Fantastic Game Day Party!

by The Hat Team


Football season is here and whether you are cheering for Alabama or Auburn, that means party time!  Gathering with friends and family to watch your favorite team will be all the more fun with these game-day party tips!

GUEST LIST: Make sure to invite people well in advance so that you know how many to plan for.  If you are a die-hard football fan, you may want to consider only inviting other die-hard fans, but if you are just using the game as an excuse to have a party, invite anyone and everyone you enjoy socializing with. The more the merrier!  You also might want to make it an adult only affair. A day of watching tv and eating junk food might not be the best idea for little ones, especially if there isn’t a lot of space for them to run around and burn off energy. 

PARTY LOCATION: If you live in a tiny apartment with one small couch, you are going to want to either limit how many people you invite to just a few or you might want to totally steer clear of hosting a party at your home.  The optimal setting for a football watching party is a large room with lots of seating and a casual atmosphere.  Oh…and don’t forget…a BIG television!

WHAT TO SERVE: As far as drinks go, make sure to have a variety. Remember that some people don’t drink alcohol, so you should have non-alcoholic beverages available.  Now, for the most important aspect of a game day party…THE FOOD!  Creating a game day menu is one time when you can be a junk food junkie and feel good about it!  Think finger foods that are easily consumed while sitting on a couch watching the game. You can’t go wrong with chips, dips and nachos, but if you want something a little more substantial, great options are wings, ribs and chili.  You want to stick with foods that can be prepared ahead of time and served up easily so that you don’t have to miss any of the game.  Have some sweets on hand for dessert. They should be portable and easy to eat - like cake pops, cupcakes and brownies.  If you really want to impress your guests, make some football shaped food.  Whether you keep it simple, or go all out in terms of presentation, just make sure you have enough for everyone! 8 Football-Shaped Foods for Your Game Day Party

USE TEAM COLORS FOR YOUR THEME: Make things festive by adding decorations in your favorite team’s colors.  Think streamers, paper plates, napkins, and cups. Decorating can be the difference between a gathering and a true PARTY!

If you love to host parties and relish the idea of going all out, then go for it!  But if you just want to kick back with people to watch the game, keep it simple and don’t stress.  Most importantly, enjoy the time spent with friends and family!

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: mydish.com

Creating a Colorful Fall Garden

by The Hat Team

Fall gardens bring to mind vivid, jewel toned colors such as scarlet, deep purples and gold.  Planning for a fall garden needs to start early so that plants are established. Even if they bloom late in the season, they will be hardier and bloom best if they’ve been in the garden longer.  Before planting, research what kind of flowers and plants will do best in your area.  To help, here is a list of some that thrive in hardiness zone 8 (Montgomery, AL): Alabama USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Chrysanthemums:  Commonly called “mums”, these richly hued plants are true sign of fall. When buying mums, look for ones labeled “hardy mums” or “garden mums” for the best chance of having them thrive throughout the season.  Plant them as soon as you buy them.  Given the opportunity to develop a strong root system, they will last longer. Chrysanthemums: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Mums

Helenium: Part of the daisy family, this cheery flower blooms in yellow, orange and red bringing a vibrant ambiance to your garden. These tough, easy-to-grow perennials bloom late in the season and last a long time.

Asters: Available in a variety of hues in shades of pink, purple, blue and white, these perennials bloom from mid to late fall.  Loved by bees, butterflies and other pollinators, they provide a late feeding opportunity for them.   Plant them as soon as they are available in early fall so that they can establish a strong root system.

Pansies: One of the most popular cool weather annuals, pansies are favorites for fall flowerbeds. They are very hardy and can continue to bloom through winter and into spring, thereby adding lively color to your garden almost year ‘round! All About Pansies

Sedum (Stonecrop): Robust, carefree, pretty, and long-lasting, sedum is about as close to perfect as you can get for a fall flower.  Sedums comes in many various sizes and colors, including mat forming, creeping, and upright varieties. Easy to grow, they are great for beds, borders, or even a rock garden.  How to Grow Sedum

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!

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