Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 31-38 of 38

Reasons to Purchase a Home before the End Of 2017

by The Hat Team

Now is the time, now is the best time, now is the best time to purchase a home.  Do yourself a favor; don’t wait to purchase your dream home until the end of 2017.  If you have even given a small thought that you might want to move in the next year or so, go ahead and begin looking now so that you might be able to make that purchase today instead of tomorrow.   A few of the reasons why you should purchase your home before the end of the year are listed below for you. 

  1.  One of the many reasons you should go ahead and purchase a home   before the end of 2017 is because interest rates are already beginning to rise.  The current average interest rate is a little above 4 percent but that rate could reach 6 percent by 2019.  Begin looking for the home of your dreams now so that you can purchase one and get moved in while the market is in your favor.
  2. Fewer homes are available as the years go on.  Just a few short years ago there were plenty of homes to choose from; however this list is getting a bit smaller yearly.   Buyers of today will have many more homes to choose from than buyers of tomorrow so get out and get house shopping now!  Call your Realtor today if purchasing a home is on your mind. 
  3. House prices are rising and will continue to rise in the future.  If there ever was a reason to go ahead and purchase a home before the end of the year, this is the one!  You just might be able to get more of a house for your money now than if you waited until later to purchase. 

Again, if purchasing a home has even been on your mind at all and you think you might want to move in the next year or so, get a jump start on your search by starting today.  It can’t hurt to start looking now because you just may be more likely to find it now than later.   Buying a home is a big deal and can cost quite a bit of money so it’s best to start looking now to find the home you have always dreamed of.  

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Decorating Ideas for Your Pho Fireplace

by The Hat Team

It’s during this time of year that many of us start to put our fireplaces into use.  Since fireplaces are used typically to burn wood, those of you who have a fireplace that is just for looks may not know that you can decorate it to make it stand out and look very nice.  Below are a few ideas for decorating your pho fireplace  this season. 

  1. If you want your fireplace to look like it has some sort of warm glow like a fire can add, you should put a few candles inside of the fireplace during the winter months.  You can choose to use real candles to give a very warm firelight glow or you can even use battery operated candles to add a similar effect.  Ether type of candle you choose will be sure to add a touch of class to your fireplace this winter. 
  2. Another way to decorate your non working fireplace  is to use it for something other than it is designed to be used for such as a bookcase.  If you have students in your household and you find they like to spend a lot of time in the main room of the house, (where the fireplace can typically be found) using the space as a bookshelf is very beneficial not only for decorative purposes but also as a way to get your students to pick up a book or two and read it. 
  3. A great way to decorate your fireplace is to add some sparkling lights to it.    A few glass ornaments with some lights draped around them is a great way to liven up your fireplace during the holiday season. 
  4. If you have a special piece of artwork that you have no idea where to display, you may want to use your fireplace for this.  Typically a fireplace is the focal point of a room and adding a piece of art to this will only make it stand out that much more. 

These are just a few ideas on decorating your pho fireplace, there are many more ideas out there you just have to be a little creative and open minded in using the space for something other than fire.  When you think outside the box you never know where your decorating ideas may take you.   

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Tips for De-cluttering Your Bathroom

by The Hat Team

De-cluttering any room in your house can sometimes feel like a huge job to take on but for some reason de-cluttering the bathroom can seem to take on a whole life of its own.    Truth is there are many items in our bathrooms that we no longer use.   Take an hour or so to go through your bathroom with this list of tips for de-cluttering.

  1.  The first tip to de-cluttering your bathroom   is to do what was just mentioned, take the time to go through your entire bathroom looking for items you no longer use.  If you haven’t used an item in the past week you should consider either getting rid of the item or at least finding a spot for it that will help to cut down on clutter in the bathroom.
  2. Another tip for de-cluttering your bathroom is to throw out old toothbrushes.  Some folks may not know this but you are supposed to change out your toothbrush once every three months to keep it from forming bacteria.   If you want to keep your old toothbrushes you could do so and perhaps use them as cleaning tools in other areas of the house.  You might find that they are good for such things as cleaning in between tiles and other small areas that you can’t otherwise reach.
  3. Take a look in your bathroom medicine cabinet when de-cluttering your bathroom.  If you find medications that have expired, go ahead and toss them in the garbage right away. 
  4. Another tip for de-cluttering your bathroom  is to toss out any old makeup or nail polish you may have stored away in a drawer.  Old makeup and nail polish will not work like it is suppose to so there is no use to keep it around. 
  5. If you have a lot of half empty shampoo and/ or conditioner bottles laying around your bathroom you can use what is left in them to refill your soft soap container.  Throw out all the old bottles once you have used their contents to help de-clutter your bathroom in a great way. 
  6. If you have a lot of hotel soaps, shampoos etc, why not toss them into your gym bag and use them there to help make your bathroom less cluttered. 

De-cluttering your bathroom is quite simple really; you just have to take the time to do it.  Once you do, I am sure you will like the clean fresh feeling you have as a result.  

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Money Saving Ideas for Furniture Shopping

by The Hat Team

If you have recently purchased a new house and you would like to fill it up with new furniture you have likely found that it can be quite the overwhelming task and an expensive one as well.  There are a few money saving ideas for furniture shopping that can help you out quite a bit in your search for new furniture and those have been listed below.

  1.  One good thing you can do to help you save a bit of money when furniture shopping is to call a few of the stores you are going to be visiting ahead of time.  This way you can find out if they have prices you can afford and also if they have brand names that you are interested in.  This can save you a little bit of time and money so that you don’t waste it traveling long distances.
  2.  Another money saving idea for furniture shopping  is to make sure to look at every piece of furniture that the store has by walking the entire shop.  Many times there are clearance items or items that perhaps are slightly damaged in the store but they are not out for all to see.  Do your due diligence and walk the entire space so you don’t lose out on any good deals. 
  3. Yet another good way to save money when furniture shopping is to purchase consignment furniture.  You can find lots of really nice pieces by shopping consignment. 
  4. If you find a piece of furniture that you have your heart set on do your best to bargain with the seller.  You never know unless you ask.
  5. Shopping estate sales is another way to get good prices on furniture.  Many times you can get pieces at estate sales that are worth much more than you pay for them so you can make your home look very nice. 
  6. Lastly if you want to save a good amount of money on furniture  why not refinish what you already have!  Old furniture can become new again if you are able to successfully refinish it.  

Hopefully this list of money saving ideas on furniture buying has gotten you thinking in the right direction before you begin making your purchases.   Now get out there and save some money and furnish your home with beautiful new furniture.  

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

How to Help Your Child with Their First Home Purchase

by The Hat Team

If you have an adult child that has just graduated from college you may want to know how you can help them afford to purchase their very first home.  Hopefully your child already has a job lined up so that they can afford to pay for their new home once you have helped them to achieve the goal of home ownership, if not you may want to postpone this plan until they do. 

home buyer

  • Many kids just out of college have a huge student debt that has accumulated over the last four years but that doesn’t have to stop them from owning their own home.  Parents can help their children be able to purchase their own home and to come up with the down payment by gifting the down payment to them.   Make sure that you do not loan them the money because that can work against them in the long run, rather give them the down payment as a gift.  This type of gift is much better than any house warming gift you could ever give them and it’s the gift that will keep on giving.  You will need to write a “gift letter” so that the lender realizes that the money is in fact a gift and not a loan.
  • If you simply cannot afford to gift the money for the down payment to your child then you can give them a loan but the lender will have guidelines that you must follow.  The lender will consider the loan a second mortgage on the house and you may also be prepared to have interest in the loan as well.  The interest rate will most likely be the current market rate. 
  • You can apply for a mortgage jointly with your child if you want to help out in that way.  You will be considered a non-occupant co-borrower.  If however your child fails to pay the mortgage, guess who will be responsible for it?  Yes, you.  This type of help towards a home purchase should only be done as a last resort.
  • You may want to choose to let your recent graduate move back home with you until he or she can afford to take on a home mortgage without having to have help from you.  By letting them move back in you are allowing them to be able to save money towards a home purchase and that in itself is a huge help in the right direction. 

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas on how to help your child afford to purchase a home of their own.

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.

Enjoy Your Improvements and Profit by Them

by The Hat Team

Homeowners can raise the basis or cost in their home by money spent on capital improvements. The benefit is that it will lower their gain and may save them taxes when they sell their home.

capital improvementsImprovements must add value to your home, prolong its useful life or adapt it to new uses. Repairs are routine in nature to maintain the value and keep the property in an ordinary, operating condition.

Additions of decks, pools, fences and landscaping add value to a home as well as new floor covering, counter-tops and other updates. Replacing a roof, appliances or heating and cooling systems would be considered to extend the useful life of the home. Completing an unfinished basement or converting a garage to living space are common examples of adapting a portion of the home to a new use.

Other items that can raise the basis in your home are special assessments for local improvements like sidewalks or curbs and money spent to restore damage from casualty losses not covered by insurance.

Here’s a simple idea that could save you money years from now.

Every time you spend money on your home other than the house payment and the utilities, put the receipt or canceled check in an envelope labeled “Home Improvements.” Regardless of whether you know if the money would be classified as maintenance or improvements, the receipt or cancelled check goes in the envelope.

Years from now, when you’ve sold your home and you need to report the gain on the property, you or your accountant can go through the envelope and determine which of the expenditures will be adjustments to your basis.

Some people disregard this idea because of the generous exclusion allowed on principal residences. At the unknown point in the future when you sell your home, circumstances may have changed and the proof of these expenditures will be valuable. The tax laws could lower the exclusion amount or eliminate it altogether. Your marital status may change because of death or divorce. The market value of your home may skyrocket.

Since the future is unknown, it is better to keep track of the improvements as they are made and how much is spent on them. Download an Improvement Register and examples or read more in Publication 523 on Increases to Basis.

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtor Sandra Nickel, Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

5 Reasons To Buy a Home Now

by The Hat Team

Many Montgomery AL home buyers wait until Spring to buy but there are 5 reason why buying now might be a better decision. Yes, spring is the busiest market time but take a look at why NOW is a great time!

reasons to buy

1. Homeownership is the one leveraged investment available.
Real estate is the only investment where you can use other peoples' money, i.e. the lender, to increase your purchasing power and take advantage of the asset's appreciation.

2. You're paying for housing whether you rent or own.
There is no getting around it, housing costs money. Whether you are putting money out each month for rent or for a mortgage, you are still putting it out. You are paying your mortgage or your landlords. Wouldn't you rather pay your own?

3. Owning is usually a form of "forced savings".
Most to us find it difficult to save routinely save money each month. Paying a mortgage is a "forced savings" as you are paying down your loan balance, or debt, each month, thus gaining more equity in your home.

4. There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes lowering the amount of federal taxes owed each year. Many of the cost of purchasing your home are also tax deductible.

5. Owning is a hedge against inflation.
Housing costs and rents historically increase over the years while your principal and interest payment remains the same...unless you have obtained a variable rate mortgage.

Another factor to consider when thinking of buying a Montgomery AL home now rather than the spring is interest rates are expected to increase in the spring. Take a look at what an increase in rates will do to your buying power.

buyer purchasing power

According to, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.5%. Monthly principal and interest on a $180,000 loan is $1,013. Look at what happens if the rate increases by only 1%...the monthly payment goes to $1,022. This looks like a small increase by adds up over time.

Ready to take advantage of today's rates? Click here and learn how much home you can afford!

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

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

Displaying blog entries 31-38 of 38




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