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Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 161

Montgomery Mother’s Day Happenings

by The Hat Team


Mother’s Day is just a few days away, but it’s not too late to plan a special day for the Mom in your life.  Here are some fun events for celebrating Mom in Montgomery this weekend:

  • Mother’s Day Lunch Cruise

No Mom should have to cook on Mother’s Day…unless she wants to!  Treat Mom to a lovely Mother’s Day Lunch Cruise on the Harriott II.  Enjoy a scenic cruise that not only includes lunch, but live entertainment as well! Boarding at 12:15 PM and cruise goes from 12:45 PM to 2:45 PM.  There will be a cash bar and concessions available as well.

Purchase tickets HERE.  Ticket price includes a gift for Mom!  For more information call 334-625-2100.

  • 9th Annual Agape’s Run for Mom 5K and Fun Run

This annual run takes place on Saturday, May 11, 2019.  Dedicate your run to your Mom or another special woman in your life.  Course begins at Vaughn Park Church of Christ and continues through the Vaughn Meadows community.  All proceeds from the run will benefit Agape of Central Alabama and its mission to support women, children, and families through foster care, adoption, and crisis pregnancy counseling.  For more information call 334-272-9466. Register for run HERE.

  • Take her out to the ballgame!  Does Mom love baseball?  Then what better way to celebrate her special day than by heading out to a Montgomery Biscuits game?  The Montgomery Biscuits experience is a fun time for the whole family.  The Biscuits will be playing the Mississippi Braves Saturday, May 11 at 6:05 PM (Family Faith Night with pre-game concert and MAX Fireworks), and Sunday, May 12 at 2:05 PM (Mother’s Day Stemless Wineglass Giveaway).  Purchase tickets HERE. For more information call 334-323-2255.
     
  • Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Montgomery Zoo!

Sunday, May 12, 2019 - 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (last admission at 4:00 PM)

Celebrate Mother’s Day with FREE ADMISSION FOR ALL MOMS!  This includes admission to Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum.  If Mom loves animals, this is the perfect way to spend her special day!  For more information, click HERE.

Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team would like to wish all Moms a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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: lorensworld.com

April Showers Bring May Flowers

by The Hat Team

Spring seems to fly by so fast. Especially in years when the temperatures stay cool longer.  Before you know it the end of April is here and you haven’t even started your spring planting.  But even if you miss the early spring planting period, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a yard full of fragrant, colorful flowers in late spring and through the summer. There are several types of plants that grow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8-10 that thrive in the summer months when planted in April.  And luckily, Montgomery falls right within those zones! Plant Hardiness Zone Map - Alabama

Here is a handy list of plants that are ideal for planting in late spring:

Bare Root Perennials

These plants are perfect for April planting because they are fast growers and will fill your landscape with radiant color during the summer.  Bare root perennials are sold by nurseries and online catalogs after they have grown for a year and had their growth trimmed to about an inch above the crown.  When purchased they are ready to be transplanted outdoors after removing soil from the roots.  Some examples of bare root perennials are: Daylily Plants, Astilbe, Clematis

Daylilies

Photo Credit: burpee.com

Annuals

There are several, easy to grow, summer-blooming annuals that can be planted in April. Sunflowers are quite sturdy and don’t require a lot of attention once planted.  They will thrive in a variety of soil conditions and they include short ones that grow a few feet tall, to tall plants that can grow to be 8 feet and taller.  Cosmos are easy to grow flowering plants as well and provide brightly colored blooms for your garden.

Sunflowers

Photo Credit: pexels.com

Flowering Shrubs and Citrus

Choose drought-tolerant shrubs to plant in April and they will do well through the summer.  Ceanothus, otherwise known as the California Lilac, produce blossoms of delicate, tiny blue and purple flowers.  Because there are so many, the entire bush looks like it is blue or purple.  Another good bush to plant in April is the Common Flannel Bush.  Also a California native, this bush produces vibrant yellow flowers that bloom all at once.  Rosemary Bushes have fragrant leaves that can be used for cooking and little blue or purple flowers for color.  Citrus Trees come in many varieties that have sweetly scented blooms.

California Lilac

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

So, if you didn’t get a chance to plant flowers in early spring, it’s not too late to add a garden full of vivid colors to your landscape!

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!

Your Guide to a Successful Home Showing

by The Hat Team


When your home is for sale and potential buyers are coming to see it, it’s vital that they not only feel comfortable in the home, but that they can envision it as their own. Here are some tips for showing your house that will help engage buyers emotionally and leave them feeling like they have found their future home.

  1. Make them feel WELCOME!

      The buyer may be a guest in your home, but don’t make them feel like an intruder.The idea is for them to be able to imagine it as their own.Leave the house while they are looking so that they can speak freely and comfortably about what they are seeing.Let them take their time. If they feel rushed they won’t have a positive experience.Leave a bowl of candy or small treats near the front door with a short note thanking them for coming to see your home.

  1. Check the temperature.

      If it is hot outside, turn on the AC. Set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler than usual so that it runs consistently and isn’t kicking on and off while people are looking.Sometimes HVAC systems can be loud.The same applies with heat when it is cold outside (set temp a couple of degrees warmer than usual).You want them to be comfortable in your house so that they will linger as long as possible.

  1. Create a mood.

     You want potential buyers to get good vibes from your house the minute they walk through the door.When weather appropriate, light a fire in the fireplace.Set your dining table in a way that is appealing.Have soft music playing.Create and ambiance that is irresistible!

  1. Be careful with scents.

      Some people are very sensitive to certain smells, so don’t spray the air or use plug in deodorizers.Avoid burning strongly scented candles for the same reason.If weather permits, open the windows (unless it is too noisy outdoors).Most people enjoy the smell of freshly baked cookies, but if you are going to bake, make sure you leave some treats out for the visitors so they aren’t disappointed! How to Make Your Home Smell Great During an Open House

  1. Make it visually pleasing.

      Open window coverings to let in natural light.Display appealing seasonal photos in prominent      places. If your yard isn’t looking so fabulous, keep window blinds partially closed so that buyers aren’t distracted by what’s outside while looking at the interior of the home.

  1. Light it up!

Turn on every light in the house…even the closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with extra lighting.  A spot light on the floor behind a piece of furniture is a great idea for brightening up a room with few windows.  Lighting Tips to Help Sell Your Home

  1. Encourage touching.

Drape lush fabrics such as velvet or silk throws over chair arms.  Leave doors slightly ajar so that visitors feel welcome but must open the door to enter the room.  If a room is carpeted, vacuum it in one direction.

  1. Finish off with food.

Encourage buyers to stick around and notice even more details about your home by offering them food.  You don’t need to have a catered lunch; finger sandwiches, cookies, tea, water and desserts will all suffice. Be sure to have serving utensils, plates, cups and silverware available along with a waste basket in plain sight.

  1. Encourage feedback.

Have a guestbook or a short pre-printed questionnaire and some pens next to the food.  Feeding the buyers will allow them time to give you some feedback.  This will provide invaluable information to you. Allow buyer anonymity. 6 Feedback Questions Every Listing Agent Should Ask

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!

Fabulous Front Porches

by The Hat Team


When driving around looking at houses one of the first things you will notice are the front porches.  They are a reminder of the “good old days” and evoke feelings of nostalgia and comfort.  Front porches foster a sense of community, enabling neighbors to spend time out from behind closed doors where they can get to know each other.  There’s nothing better than summer evenings spent on the shady front porch with an ice-old beverage, listening to the crickets chirp and enjoying the gentle twinkling lights of fireflies.  Big front porches are great gathering places, providing an “outdoor living room” where neighbors can join you and impromptu parties can take place. But they can also be private; the perfect spot to snuggle into a comfy chair and read a good book…or even take a nap out in the fresh air.  And if you’re planning on selling your home, a well-appointed front porch provides fantastic curb appeal and is a big draw for potential buyers!

Perhaps you have a front porch that needs a little update, or maybe you are looking for a home that has one. Either way, here are some ideas for creating your own personal outdoor haven or gorgeous gathering place on your front porch:

  • Use a Bold Color Palette

Bold tones and bright hues can brighten up a dreary front porch and turn it into vibrant, delightful space. Outdoor rugs, painted furniture, or colorful cushions are all items that can add a pop of color to your front porch. 34 Colorful Porch Ideas

  • Think “Comfy”

It’s nice to have a beautiful front porch, but if it’s not comfortable, you probably won’t spend much time there.Use overstuffed cushions, add extra pillows, and be sure to have tables close to seating so you have a place to set your drinks.

  • Add a Lighted Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans pull double duty on a front porch. They not only provide the much-needed function of moving air, but they also provide illumination as the sun goes down and dusk turns to dark.Add to the charming aesthetic of your porch by choosing a unique fan/light fixture. Outdoor Ceiling Fans

  • Hang Artwork

Most porches offer a lot of wall space that often goes unused; the perfect spot for some artwork.Use your imagination and add paintings, framed photos, or sculptures that bring you joy.

  • Decorate with Flowers

Flowers and plants serve multiple purposes when used on a front porch.They provide color with beautiful blooms, create a soft transition from landscape to house, and if you plant the right flowers and plants, they will help to keep pesky insects away.Use window boxes on your railings, containers on your floor, and/or hanging baskets from the ceiling. 12 Plants that Repel Unwanted Insects

Spring is the perfect time to update and decorate your front porch so you can enjoy it during the warm seasons.  If you’re looking to purchase a home that has a desirable front porch contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals and start your home search today. Give them a call at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Negotiation - A Guide for Home Sellers and Home Buyers

by The Hat Team


It seems that negotiation has become a lost art in the world of real estate, and that’s unfortunate because the truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask…you don’t get. While sellers want the highest price and buyers want the best deal, they must meet somewhere in the middle for the deal to close. Negotiation is a crucial part of selling or buying a home because it is the largest asset people own and there is a lot of money at stake. Here is a simple guide for what sellers and buyers might ask for in real estate negotiations:

  • Price

Negotiating the best price means different things for sellers and buyers.  The seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants to pay as little as possible.  For a successful transaction, they must compromise and come up with a price that is acceptable to both.

  • Closing Costs

Prepaid closing costs are paid by buyers for their mortgage.  These are funds that the mortgage lender holds in escrow for expenses like taxes and insurance.  A buyer may ask a seller to cover some or all their closing costs either with a flat dollar amount or up to a percentage of what’s an allowable contribution for a lender.  If a buyer asks the seller to do this, they are likely going to pay a higher asking price. What is Escrow and Why is it Needed?

  • Closing Date

Sometimes sellers want to get out of a home quickly because they need the money from that house they are selling to put toward a new real estate purchase.  The closing date will also affect the buyer’s monthly cash-flow because when a buyer closes on a house, they skip the next month’s mortgage payment, therefore they may want to negotiate to close at the beginning of a month.

  • Financing Contingencies

When there is a financing contingency in place for a real estate transaction, it can tie up a seller’s property for a required 30 to 60 days.  For this reason, many sellers prefer buyers coming to the table with cash offers. If you are competing with cash buyers, you can shorten the closing timeline substantially by getting pre-approved for a home loan prior to making an offer.   Mortgage preapproval shows that your finances are in order and you can afford the home.  5 Things You Need to Be Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

  • Home Warranty

As a buyer, you can request a home warranty.  As a seller, you can offer one.      This home protection plan covers things like appliances and systems such as the hot water heater or air conditioning, in the event they need repair or replacement.

  • Leaseback

The moving process is stressful and labor intensive.  Sometimes a seller will need extra time to get into their new home.  When this happens, buyers can offer a zero-cost rent-back for 30 to 90 days to persuade the seller to accept their offer over others. 

  • Home Repairs

With a home that needs a lot of updating there comes ample opportunity for negotiation. Buyers need to consider the cost of bringing the home up to current standards and use the estimate of that cost to request a lower asking price.  The seller, on the other hand, can specify that the house is being sold “as is” and not offer any repairs.

  • Appraisal Contingency

A seller can push for a buyer to waive the appraisal contingency. However, if for some reason the appraisal falls short of the expected amount, buyers need to be prepared for the amount they might have to pay should the bank only be willing to lend them money based on the appraised value. How an Appraisal Contingency Can Protect You

  • Furniture

Personal property such as patio furniture, window treatments and chandeliers is all up for grabs. The buyer can ask for these things to be included in the contract.  Sellers need to determine what they are willing to leave behind.  And any exclusions need to be specifically listed in the contract as well.

  • Appliances

Depending on the market, sellers don’t always leave every appliance for the buyer.  They may include the dishwasher, stove and built in microwave in the contract but not the refrigerator, washer and dryer.  Sometimes they don’t want to give everything away up front so that they can use these as items for negotiation.

  • Inspection

When buyers waive inspection, they often find themselves with "buyer's remorse", but they can try to shorten the time frame for inspection, from ten days to five.

  • Condo/Co-op Assessments

These are fees that are used to maintain common areas in a community. If there is an open assessment, it can become a negotiation between the buyer and seller as to who will pay for it.

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!

Making an Offer on a Home - Tips for Success

by The Hat Team


You’ve found the perfect home, and now it’s time to make an offer.  This is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It requires some thought and strategy. It’s vital that you plan carefully and have your finances in order prior to making an offer on a home.  Here are some things to consider when you are preparing to make an offer:

  1. GATHER INFORMATION - While your Realtor can assist you in deciding on an offer price, it’s important that you understand what you are getting into. This is likely the largest financial investment you will make, so you need to know what is going on. Take advantage of your Realtor’s expertise and learn about the Current Market so that you will be aware of what’s going on in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something that you don’t understand.
     
  2. GET PRE-APPROVED - Before you make an offer, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.  Not only will this help you determine how much you can spend on a home, it will also make you appeal to the seller because they will know that you have already been financially vetted and you can afford the home.  That means the sale is less likely to fall through. How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Home Loan
     
  3. TURN ON THE CHARM - People can get very sentimental when it comes to selling their homes.  Being friendly and showing a seller how much you love their home can sometimes influence them to choose you over other prospective buyers. Write a letter letting them know the reasons why their home will be the perfect home for you and your family. 
     
  4. DON’T MAKE AN INSULTING OFFER - While everyone wants to get the best deal possible, a lowball offer is risky. You might end up offending the seller and creating a situation where they just say no and are unwilling to negotiate.  This one reason why it’s important for you to understand the market value of the home. Allow your Realtor to guide you in deciding what a reasonable offer is.  You can still offer lower than the asking price and leave room for negotiation.
     
  5. NEGOTIATE OTHER THINGS BESIDES MONEY - Not all real estate negotiations involve the home price.  You can ask for things like a home warranty, home improvements to be made, closing costs, and new appliances.  If the seller will only accept the asking price, but is willing to negotiate other terms, you can still come out with a great deal on your new home. 5 Things to Negotiate When You Buy Your First House
     
  6. TRY TO BE FLEXIBLE - Things may come up that require some flexibility on your part. For example, the seller might need continue living in the home for a month or two while they look for a new home. Your willingness to rent the home to them for that time period could make you stand out over other buyers.

Making an offer on a home is not just about the money; it’s also about appealing to the seller while at the same time doing what is right for you. It can be complicated, but it is worth it when the right house comes along!

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!

What is Title Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

by The Hat Team


When you are purchasing a home, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the things you need to think about.  Something like title insurance is probably not even on your radar. It’s a fee that will appear on your closing document and chances are you don’t even know what it’s for.  If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered.  Here are five things you need to know about title insurance:

  1. Like other insurance policies, title insurance is something that protects you financially should there be a loss.  In this case it protects you with regard to property ownership. It not only ensures that the property you are purchasing will be legally transferred to you from the previous owner, it also protects you from possible future Title Defects.  There isn’t a monthly premium with title insurance; it is a one-time fee paid at closing.  This one-time payment will protect the insured from title defects for the life of the loan.
  2. Title insurance is important because while a title research company will look into the history of ownership of the home to be sure there are no title defects, there is always a possibility that an issue could arise later due to several reasons such as improperly recorded documents, mistakes in ownership history or other legal matters that occurred prior to your purchase of the home.
  3. There are two types of title insurance; one that protects the home owner and one that protects the mortgage lender.  Your lender will require that you purchase the lender’s policy to protect them from any loss should a problem arise.  The owner policy protects you and will cover legal fees or other losses that occur due to a title defect. You are not required to get an owner policy, but it’s well worth it to have it in place just in case something goes wrong in the future.
  4. It can be frustrating to pay for insurance that you might never use, but it is risky to not have it in place. Think of it as paying for peace of mind.  With title insurance, you will be protected from catastrophic circumstances should a title defect be found.  You could not only lose a lot of money; you may even lose your home.
  5. Title insurance is purchased when closing on your home. You have the option of buying it from whatever company you choose, but if your lender has a preferred company, you may find it less expensive to add your owner’s policy onto your lender’s policy. Average Cost of Title Insurance 2019

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

Last Minute Valentine Date Ideas in Montgomery AL

by The Hat Team


If you turned the page on your calendar this morning and realized Valentine’s Day is only 2 days away, we’ve got you covered! Here are some Valentine's Day date ideas that range anywhere from the traditional romantic dinner to the out-of-the-ordinary.

1. Romantic dinner at the City Grill

The City Grill is a Montgomery staple. It is a beautifully appointed restaurant and a perfect choice for a romantic dinner. Reviews refer to the “City Grill as having the best menu in town. The wait staff is always good and knows their stuff. Nice appetizers and great deserts compliment some truly excellent main courses.”

2. Day at the Montgomery Zoo

Maybe a romantic dinner isn’t your thing but your special someone is an animal lover. If so, consider a day at the Montgomery Zoo. See the Zebras graze on the plains while elephants roam nearby. Discover over 500 animal residents from five continents, all housed in natural, barrier-free habitats. Consisting of over 42 beautifully landscaped acres, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of exotic wildlife and endangered species. Stroll through the Zoo on your own or ride on the miniature train, the Montgomery Zoo is a sight to see!

3. Scenic Boat Ride Down the Alabama River

The Harriott II Riverboat offers a wonderful dinner, dancing, and a romantic cruise down the Alabama River. This is a one of a kind experience and will show your loved one just how much they mean to you. The Valentine Day special includes a two hour intimate dinner cruise, surf and turf dinner, roses, commemorative champagne flute, live entertainment and cash bar access. This special is available Feb 14, 15, and 16.

4. Weekend at Gorham’s Bluff

Gracing the banks of the mighty Tennessee River, Gorham’s Bluff offers gorgeous views as far as the eye can see. The Lodge features splendid views of the Tennessee River form its expansive porch, rooms with stone fireplaces and a restaurant with candlelight dining.

However you celebrate, enjoy being with the special person in your life and Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you are in the market to sell or buy 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!

Building Wealth by Investing in Real Estate

by The Hat Team

 

Investing in real estate is a time-tested way to successfully build wealth.  While there are many ways to invest your savings, investing in real estate is unique in that it offers cash-flow, liquidity, profitability, and tax and diversification benefits that other investments do not.  If you’ve been thinking about how to build wealth for your retirement, you would be smart to consider investing in real estate. Diversification and Real Estate Investing

There are four primary ways to make money in real estate:

  1. Appreciation. When a property increases in value, you have real estate appreciation. Sometimes is happens due to changes in the market and other times it may be due to upgrades made on the property.
  2. Cash flow income (rent). Cash flow income is a nice perk of real estate investment that you don’t have in other types of investments.  It is generated when you purchase a home or apartment building or an office building and rent them out.
  3. Real Estate Income.  This is income earned by people who earn commissions through real estate transactions or buy property managers who oversee the operations of rental properties.
  4. Ancillary Real Estate Income - This can be a huge source of profit.  Things like application fees, vending machines and laundry facilities are money makers that go beyond the monthly rent.  Increase Your Bottom Line - Supplementing Rent with Ancillary Income

While there are certainly Risks of Real Estate Investing, there are a lot of benefits that outweigh the risks:

  1. Real estate is something that people who grew up lower to middle class are familiar with.  They may not have been exposed to things like stocks and bonds, but they likely know the importance of owning a home.  Buying a home is an investment that is reachable for them.
  2. Having an investment that you can see; something that is tangible, is psychologically important.
  3. You have the control in a real estate investment.  You don’t have to worry as much about being defrauded the way you might when entrust your money to someone else to invest for you.
  4. You will reap the benefits of tax advantages.
  5. You can Leverage Your Debt to buy more real estate and increase your net worth.

Whether you are thinking of purchasing a home for yourself and investing in your own future by building equity or you are considering buying property to rent out, investing in real estate is great way to build wealth!

If you are in the market to sell or buy 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!

Wallpaper - It’s Back!

by The Hat Team

Wallpaper has been out for a long time, but as most trends do, it is making its way back into homes everywhere.  Wallpaper designs have changed a lot and unlike the dark floral prints of the 80s and 90s, new wallpaper looks more like murals or custom wall art.  So, if you’re thinking about a new look for a room (or several rooms) in your house, you may want to consider using wallpaper instead of paint.  Here are some current popular wallpaper trends to choose from:

  • Eastern Influence - Think Japanese and Indian designs with hand finished patterns; the perfect backdrop for classic decorative designs and geometric prints.


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

  • New Retro - Everything old is new again! Geometric patterns such as chevron, honeycomb, and zigzags are back in vogue in retro colors like orange, teal, and mustard.  Use as the backdrop for your funky mid-century modern furnishings.


Photo Credit: wordpress.com

  • Traditional Florals - Florals inspired by watercolors and oil paintings have been given a more modern look with oversized prints. Plain linens and lush velvets create a beautiful contrast to floral prints.


Photo Credit: archiexpo.com

  • Modern Rustic - Influenced by mother nature, modern rustic wall décor is a beautiful collection of faux textures. Cover your walls with paper that represents the natural beauty of the untamed wilderness and features raised patterns that mimic elements like brick, bamboo, limestone, cork, rock, and wood.


Photo Credit: blackforestdecor.com

  • Quiet Patterns - Create a peaceful, calming landscape with nature-inspired prints in the modern-country style featuring layered designs in a color palette that includes pale tints of gray, taupe, pink, and blue.


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

If you are in the market to sell or buy 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!

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