Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 43

Finding the Right Home Is Like Finding a Mate

by The Hat Team

home buyer

When you are looking to find a mate to marry you may spend years and years before you find the one that is meant for you to be with, however you don’t need to look for years to find “the one” when it comes to house hunting.  There are ways to know when you have found the right house for you but you may need to make a few tweaks in your wish list to make it all possible.  Below are a few ideas to help make finding your dream home a bit easier. 

  • A good way to get started finding the house that you have always dreamed of owning is to make a list of your expectations.  You should list your must have items in order of how important they are to you.  As you begin house hunting you may want to rearrange your list a little depending on what you find on the market.  It may be helpful to put a star beside the expectations that are most important to you so that you don’t forget something.
  • It’s perfectly alright to look online as much as you want at houses when you are shopping for a home but it may be wise to limit your actual house viewings.  If you visit too many homes during your house search you may find that it becomes a bit overwhelming and you may also realize that you are trying to create the home of your dreams by piecing together bits and pieces of each house you look at.  Narrow down your actual house viewings to about four of your top picks.  This will help you to more easily narrow down your search and to make a final decision more quickly.  
  • If you find that you simply cannot find what you are looking for in the current real estate market, perhaps it may be best for you to stop looking for a month or two and wait to see what may pop up.  You may find that the home of your dreams is only a few short months away from being found. 

Again, you may need to make a few adjustments to your wish list once you start looking for a home but that doesn’t mean you cannot find the perfect home for you and your family.     If the house you choose doesn’t have everything you hoped it would, you can always add things once you move in. 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtor Sandra Nickel, Hat Team!

3 Tips For a Smooth Home Inspection

by The Hat Team

home inspection

Whether you are selling your home or you are looking to buy a home, there are a few things that you need to know to help your home inspection go as well as it possibly can.  Home buyers need to know that the house they are buying is in good shape and home sellers need to be on the up and up when selling their home. When it comes to home inspections there are a few tips that can help the inspection go smoothly and the process be as stress free as possible. 

  1. If you are selling your home and you have a home inspection on the schedule, do your part to make it easy on the inspector by getting your pets out of the house while he or she is doing the inspection.  Your home inspector may love and adore animals as much as you do but your pets being under their feet during the inspection will not make the job any easier. 
  2. During a home inspection, typically the potential buyers are inside alone with the inspector and they may want to look around to take one last look at things before making a final decision.  If you want to make a good impression on those potential buyers, you may want to clean up the clutter you have left laying around.  Believe it or not clutter can cause a potential home buyer to walk away without making an offer.
  3. As a homebuyer don’t freak out if the home inspector comes up with a list of things that need to be taken care of in the house.  You need to realize that most houses have some sort of upkeep or maintenance that needs to be taken care of and that inspector’s are known for being nit-picky.   Realize too that most everything can be fixed.  Even the dreaded mold and radon.  Realize as well that home inspectors cannot predict the future and won’t be able to tell you how long something will last; they will just be able to tell you that it needs attention. 

Hopefully these tips will help you out the next time you have a home inspector coming to your home, whether you are selling or buying.  Remember that the home inspector is there to help you not to harm you or to ruin your dreams.

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

How to Get Your Free Credit Report

by The Hat Team

free credit report

Did you know that you are entitled to a free credit report once a year from all of the major credit reporting companies?  I don’t know about you but that is news to me!  If you are in the market to purchase a new home and have not had your credit report pulled lately you may be happy to find this news out!  By checking your credit report before you purchase a home or for any other reason for that matter you will be able to  see if there is anything on your credit report that is not accurate and remove it and you may also be able to find out if you have been the latest victim of identity theft.  The major credit reporting companies are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  If you want to get your yearly free credit report  all you have to do is go to each of these sites and click on “Request Your Credit Reports”.  You can also send a letter to each of the three major credit reporting companies.   A few tips to follow are below.

  • Be sure that if you get on a credit report website and are asked for money that you do not respond. There are many hackers out there trying to get your information and this is just one of the many ways in which they do it. 
  • Do not give out your social security number unless you are on a site that you know is secure. 
  • Check your credit report every four months or so to be sure that your account hasn’t been compromised. 
  • There are credit monitoring companies you can hire to keep a watchful eye on your credit report if you feel it is necessary to do so. 

Again, be sure that you are not asked for any monies when trying to get your free credit report. Be assured that there are many companies out there that claim they will give you a free credit report only to ask you for your credit card information at the very last step.  Step away from those companies and continue with your search until you find one that lets you leave the page without asking for any form of payment.  Once you get your report you can then be on your way to making any changes needed to help improve your score.  When you get your credit where you want it and where it needs to be, the world will open up to you in ways you never thought possible. 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

Tips for Settling Into Your New Home

by The Hat Team


Congratulations! You’ve survived the process of leaving one home and finding another and the onus of packing everything up and then unpacking the same boxes.  You’ve found a new bank and a new doctor; you’ve investigated trash pick-up times, licensing requirements, and car registration; and your mail is being forwarded on a regular basis.  So far so good, but now that you’re somewhat settled in your home, it’s time to become familiar with your new environment.

The following tips are designed to help you become part of your new community and re-create the sense of belonging you had in your previous location.

  • Go online to learn about the new area and what it has to offer. Look at the city or chamber of commerce website. Research religious facilities, cultural opportunities, parks and outdoor activities, and so much more!
  • Acquire a regional map and drive around. Explore shortcuts and pinpoint the location of shopping malls, medical services, libraries, the post office, city offices, etc.
  • Talk to neighbors. Ask advice about home maintenance companies, babysitters, doctors, or the civic league or homeowners’ organization association.
  • Take a walking tour of your neighborhood. Introduce yourself to and initiate conversations with neighbors who are outside. Compliment their yard or ask directions, for starters.
  • Attend garage/yard sales in the vicinity of your home. Shoppers at these events are generally friendly and gregarious, so talk to them.
  • Read the local newspaper to discover places of interest and happenings in the area. Look for clubs or group meetings that focus on your interests--art, gardening, books, sports, crafts, e.g.
  • Join a recreation center or gym. Attend classes there or work out with a group that you know will share your interests.
  • Volunteer. Check with a church or synagogue, a hospital, library, or school near you. Volunteering is a terrific way to meet people and to make you feel an integral part of the community.
  • Give a house warming party and invite all your neighbors. Such an occasion is a good reason to finish unpacking and decorating your new home and a wonderful way to make friends..

Before long you will become familiar with your new environment and be comfortable there. Best of all, you’ll “belong” once again! 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

How to Raise Your Credit Score

by The Hat Team

credit score

We have all been there before, getting ready to buy a house and then suddenly something of a negative nature pops up on our credit score that poses to keep us out of our dream home forever.  There are ways to make sure you DO NOT end up in this sort of predicament however. Hopefully, the following tips for raising your credit score  will be beneficial to you so that you can find your new home!

  • Pay credit card bills before the statement date.  Many times folks wait until the due date to pay a bill but if you are willing and able to pay them before the statement date, your credit score is likely to improve.
  • If you can afford to make multiple payments on your credit balance throughout the month, this will also show favorably on your credit score.  Check with your credit card company to make sure you are allowed to do this before beginning because some do not allow it. 
  • If you only have a couple bad marks on your credit, you can ask for a "good will deletion" .  Of course if you are late over and over again you will not be able to reap this reward but if you can show that you otherwise have paid your bills on time you may be able to get those couple nasty marks off your credit and therefore raise your score!
  • If one of your accounts has recently gone into collections you may be able to pay it off and have it removed from your credit report as a result.  Be sure to get any type of promise to delete in writing so that you can be sure it will be taken off once you pay. 

Credit issues can be hard to deal with especially if you are looking to purchase a new home in the near future, but take it from someone who knows….it CAN be done and you CAN have the house of your dreams maybe sooner than you had imagined!  Keep working at it and you will succeed and come out the other side ready to move forward into your future!

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

How To Make Your Move a Success

by The Hat Team


The big day is almost here!  You and your family are moving out of your old house into the new home you have finally closed on!  It’s an exciting time, however moving can be a huge headache if you go into it unprepared.  Below are a few tips and ideas on how to make your move a success.

  • If you plan to hire a moving company to take care of your move for you, don’t be afraid to do your homework on the different moving companies.  There are some moving companies out there that will help to make your move a lot easier while there are others that can simply make the entire process a nightmare.  You owe it to yourself to do a bit of research and to find the best moving company you possibly can.
  • Another bit of advice for moving from one house to another is to prep for the move ahead of time.  Make sure that your movers know if they will be moving heavy things such as kitchen appliances and have them unplugged and cleaned out before the movers arrive so that they can easily and quickly get the heavy objects taken out of the way. 
  • Get your packing done before the big moving day arrives.  Moving companies do not want to be tripping over you while you are frantically packing last minute items into boxes that have yet to be taped and ready to move.  If you have your job done before the movers arrive, they will be able to get their job done in a quick and successful manner.  It’s also a good idea to stack your boxes against the walls of the rooms so that the movers can easily move about as they are working.  Again, if your job is done, their job will be easier and all will be happy.
  • Label your boxes so that movers will understand what room it goes in.  If you label the boxes with your kid’s names, it’s likely the movers will have no idea which room the box belongs in once they arrive at your new home.  Keep it simple and label the boxes accordingly. 

If you do your part to make sure you have done all you can do to make the move an easy process,  the moving company will be free to do their job and do it right.

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Experts Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

On the fence about renting or buying??? Free info here!

by The Hat Team

buying a home

Many young people are debating whether they should renew their lease or sign a contract to purchase their first home. If you’re one of these people who’s on the fence about renting or buying, check out our FREE Fall 2015 Buyers Guide, Things to Consider When Buying a Home! You’ll learn why now is a good time to buy, what you need to know about the mortgage process, where home prices and interest rates are headed and so much more. No obligation, of course! Download your FREE Buyers Guide then contact us to get started in the purchase of your dream home.

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

What Every Homebuyer Should Know About FHA Loans

by The Hat Team

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a government agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHA is not a lender. It provides an insurance fund that protects lenders against borrower loan defaults. Therefore, to obtain an FHA loan, a homebuyer must get their loan through an FHA-approved lender. The actual loan and mortgage for your home is actually with a commercial lender.

home buyerNot all FHA-approved lenders offer the same interest rates and costs, even for the same loan. Therefore, borrowers need to shop around with multiple lenders for the best total package for an FHA loan.

Here’s some good news…

  • Perfect credit is not a requirement of FHA. The FHA does not dictate a minimum credit score. However, lenders can overlay their own requirements on top of what FHA requires. FHA provides leeway in underwriting for the lender by insuring the loan, but the final decision about the loan is in the lenders hands.

    The lenders’ underwriting of a loan is targeted at ensuring that the homebuyer “has the willingness and capability to repay the loan, but we do have flexibility beyond pure credit score to look at the borrower’s financial situation,” according to Vicki Bott, HUD deputy assistant secretary.
  • The minimum down payment is 3.5% of the purchase price of the home. Borrowers can use their own savings for the down payment. But, they can also use other sources such as a gift from a family member.
  • Closing costs may also be covered. FHA allows home sellers, builders, and lenders to pay some of the borrower’s closing costs. However, lenders often charge a higher interest rate if they agree to pay closing costs.

Here are some cautions…

  • Homebuyers should get a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) of closing costs from the lender when shopping for their loan.
  • Mortgage Insurance is a must. Two premiums are required on all FHA loans: first, an upfront premium of 2.25%, charged when the homebuyer gets the loan (but may be financed in the loan); and second, an annual premium of 0.55% paid monthly with the mortgage payment.

Many homebuyers feel this all sounds expensive. However, the alternative is potentially not qualifying for a loan at all. The borrower must compare total costs of the purchase with the equity that potentially is possible in the long haul…along with careful shopping for the loan. Click here for more details.

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.


4 Tips for Buying Your First Home

by The Hat Team

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

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

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Are You Ready?

by The Hat Team

For whatever reason you’ve delayed buying a home, it may be time to reconsider that decision based on today’s conditions and what is expected to happen in the future.

are you readyRents are continuing to increase to the point that in most markets, it is significantly less expensive to own than to rent.  Even after you factor repairs into the equation, the low interest rates, principal accumulation due to amortization, appreciation and tax savings lower the monthly cost of housing.

Low inventories coupled with strong demand cause a rising effect on prices.  Another reason for higher values is that builders, especially in certain price ranges, have not ramped up new home starts to keep up with the demand.

Recently, the Federal Reserve announced that they intend to start raising rates. Most experts agree that higher interest rates are a foregone conclusion; it is just a matter of when it will happen.

A $300,000 home today could cost considerably more one year from now.  With a 20% down payment, if prices go up by 3% and the interest rates increase by .5%, the principal and interest payment at 3.625% would be $1,094.52 for 30 years compared to $1,198.05 at 4.125%.

The question is not necessarily “can you afford the additional $103.53 more per month that you’d have to pay for the home during the 30 year term?”  More importantly, “How would you feel about having to pay more because you weren’t ready to make a decision and what would you have spent it on if you didn’t have to pay a higher payment?”

Information courtesy of Montgomery AL Realtors Sandra Nickel Hat Team.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 43




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