Posts Tagged ‘buying a home’

Preparing Your Home For a Virtual Tour

virtual tourTechnology is helpful in so many areas of life, even real estate. Twenty years ago, if someone were moving across the country, they’d have to wait to buy a house until they arrived to start their new life, or they’d have to buy a home without seeing it in person beforehand. Both options would cause extra unwanted stress on top of moving to an unfamiliar place. Luckily, with the rise of technology, virtual tours are here to save the day!

When it comes to creating a virtual tour, don’t panic. Your real estate agent will be there to guide you through the entire process. An agent may help to schedule a videographer to come to your house, or utilize software like Tour Wizard or My360 to create a virtual tour of their own that can be added to the listing. Real Estate Agents can also use FaceTime or other apps to give their customers a tour of a house that doesn’t include a virtual tour of the listing.

There are a few ways to prepare your home before filming a virtual tour. Start by turning on all the lights in your home and opening the blinds or window coverings. You’ll need optimal lighting to get the best footage, so your realtor will most likely schedule filming in the morning or late afternoon. Take time to clean your house before the virtual tour and remove all clutter and any furniture you don’t want to be seen. Your realtor will help you with a simple staging of your home beforehand so it looks presentable in the video. The great thing about staging for a virtual tour is you’ll only have to keep it that way for a couple of hours before you can put everything back where it belongs.

Once the virtual tour of your house has been edited, it’ll be ready to show potential buyers. Your real estate agent will show you the final footage and add it to your listing. Anyone interested in taking a virtual tour can easily watch it online to get a good idea of what to expect in person.

When you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, a virtual tour can be a great way to get more people to see it and secure a buyer in less time than a traditional open house. Not only does it give potential buyers a first glimpse, but it also ensures that only people who are seriously considering purchasing your home request a tour or show up to the open house.

For this, or any other real estate questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am ready to help you list your house – so we can focus on finding your dream home. Contact me today!

Colors Of The Year 2020

colors of the year 2020Companies use color trends to boost brand awareness and product sales, but the research behind colors and how they impact consumers is anything but arbitrary. Color trends aim to appeal to emotions cause by world events, history and cultures, the economy, and the human need for change.

Ever since Pantone Color Institute’s first introduction of the Color of the YEAR (COTY) in 2000, a subtle blue called Cerulean, many paint manufacturers are announcing their own COTYs as well as curated “collections” of the year.

Behr’s choice for COTY 2020 is a fresh split-pea green called Back To Nature. The Behr 2020 Color Trends palette “was inspired by” natural elements such as sky, earth, water and plant life. Sherwin-Williams 2020 COTY is Naval, a classic ocean blue. The company’s 2020 palette is called Simply Blissful Color Collection. A pale peachy pink called First Light is Benjamin Moore’s selection for 2020. Their Color Trends 2020 palette combines “optimism and understatement.”

These color trends all have characteristics in common: they help promote familiarity, serenity, coziness and comfort.

Pain is among the easiest ways to update a home, so trying one of these soothing colors may help you create the serene room(s) you’ve always wanted.

I have definitely seen my share of paint colors over the years. So I am happy to give you my opinion! Contact me with any questions that you have about any of your current home or your future real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Four Things To Do Before You Move In

to do before you move inYou’re almost done! All that’s left to do is to pack up and move in to your first real home. Here are a few tips that will make your moving day as a new homeowner easier.

  1. Sort your belongings. Moving can be more expensive when you cart along items you don’t really want or need. A great way to do it is to sort and pack at the same time. Think in terms of three piles – keep, donate, trash. Trash the trash and drop the donations off at the first opportunity. Put your “keep” pile into moving boxes labeled by room.
  2. Plan your storage options. Closets, attics and cabinets can fill up quickly, especially if you’re downsizing. Where will the out-of-season sports gear go? What about holiday decorations? How are you setting up your kitchen? What goes in the garage besides tools? Where will you put valuables?
  3. Plan your car trip. Whether you’re moving across the country or near the same neighborhood, pack your car or rental with necessities, including first aid, drinks, and snacks. Each family member should choose their favorite items to bring, like blankets, pillows, games, books, and a change of clothes – just in case you don’t have time to unpack those items the first day in your new home.
  4. Meet your neighbors. If possible, introduce yourselves to your neighbors beforehand to let them know you’re moving in. You’ll have a greater sense of familiarity and belonging on moving day.

Pre-qualify, Pre-approve – What’s The Difference?

prequalify preapprovalSome mortgage terms can be confusing, none more so than the similarities and differences between prequalification and preapproval. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean very different things to lenders, real estate professionals and home sellers.

Prequalifying is a rough-idea process that tells you how much money you’ll likely be able to borrow to buy a home. You can prequalify yourself on any banking or real estate-related website simply by putting your salary, type of loan you want, down payment amount and a ballpark home price into a mortgage calculator. You can talk with a lender, who will also give you a ballpark amount without a credit check.

When you apply for a mortgage loan, you’ll share your income records, the source and amount of your down payment, and your social security number so the lender can pull your credit. This is the key difference between prequalification and preapproval – when the lender is able to review your application and verify your credit standing to make a lending decision.

The lender will get back to you within three days or less with a preapproval letter stating the maximum amount of money you’re approved to borrow.

Preapproval gives you the real numbers so you know exactly how much you can spend on a home. It lends you credibility with real estate professionals and with sellers who will take you seriously as a buyer.

Prequalification becomes preapproval once you have a purchase contract on a home. Then, the preapproval is real.

For this, or any other real estate questions, you can contact me any time! I am here to help you find your dream home!

Prep Hearth and Home Now for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

stress free holiday entertainingReady or not, we are fast approaching the season for holiday entertaining – but no matter how much you enjoy the season, it can come with a level of stress. To ease the burden, home economists advise you to do as much as you can in advance. Prep for cold weather:

Outdoors:

  • Ready the plumbing – Drain the water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses and minimize the prospect of frozen water pipes in the house by using heat tape on potentially problem pipes.

 

  • Prep for warmth – Have the chimney inspected and cleaned, and have a professional check your home’s heating system. Replace the furnace filter and consider installing an energy-efficient thermostat.

 

  • Seal off drafts –Install storm windows and doors now. Add or replace worn weather stripping around doors and windows and caulk any gaps.

 

Indoors:

  • Do the heavy cleaning – Yes, you’ll need to keep up with basic chores, but deep cleaning now, like shampooing the carpets and vacuuming baseboards and crown molding, will pave the way for easier management later.

 

  • Check the linen supply – Be ready for overnight guests. Check your supply of bedding and towels and add new ones if needed.

 

  • Create a stockpile of candles – Whether for the dining room table, or any place in the house, nothing adds warmth and coziness like candles. Lay in a supply now of pillar candles, tapers and candles in pretty containers.

 

  • Stock the pantry – You won’t get caught without a side dish or a last-minute dessert if you stock up now on canned and frozen staples and baking supplies.

 

  • Check bed and bath essentials – Put together an assortment of toilet paper, tissues and hand towels along with basic toiletries like soaps and cotton balls so you don’t get caught short when company comes. Tucking a few nice things in a basket in the guest room will make any guest feel welcome.

 

  • Print out your Wi-Fi info– Help holiday guests connect to your wireless network by printing out a few cards to make the info readily available. Put a few of the cards in a small basket in the front hallway or in the guest room.

Contact me with any questions that you have about any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Why Realtors® Still Rule

Today, Americans can shop for anything and everything online. Need groceries delivered? Order them online. Want dog food, a new wardrobe, new car, or even a mattress for your bed? If you have a computer, you can have anything you want with just a few clicks. If you’re looking for a new home, resources like Zillow, Trulia, and others offer resources for anyone wanting to move or list their homes, searching zip codes, neighborhoods, and price ranges. Since there are so many resources online you may ask yourself, “are real estate agents still important”?

Because of today’s technology, home-seekers are able to be better informed during their new home search because of the internet, but that doesn’t mean a qualified Realtor® isn’t important. Agents do more than simply unlock the door to potential, future homes and serve donuts at an open house. It’s true that the role of the traditional Realtor® of yesteryear has been transformed, but the initial home search is really only a small portion of the overall home buying process.

Before internet home-searching became available, consumers needed information on the homes exclusively from the Realtors®. Today, that information still needs to be analyzed by the real estate agents and the process of negotiation is more multifaceted than it has ever been. In today’s market, there’s usually low inventory and a high-demand, making the agent a home-seeker’s “best friend”. When a property is under contract, there’s a lot happening at the same time and a Realtor® can help keep it all straight. Realtors® help with heated negotiations, the inspection process, and dual-offer maneuvers when they happen.

As a local Realtor®, I am a fan of today’s technology because I find that my clients are better informed, knowing what they want in their new home and what they can afford. My job description is plentiful, but one of my main objectives is to keep my clients organized during the entire process, getting the best deal for their dream home. Technology is a wonderful asset to all of us, but it’s my ultimate goal to share my knowledge as a Realtor® so clients can rely on me during complex negotiations and more. Mobile apps, for example, can help keep clients organized and see homes more quickly. However; one recent Forbes articles does state, “While the internet is replete with information, it’s the agent’s knowledge that makes the difference between mediocrity and extraordinary.”

My real estate knowledge will help you as the seller price your home accordingly and at the same time help you as a buyer know the best home investment for your particular needs. I do research on behalf of my clients, communicate, and listen to them…and relationship-building is something I take seriously. Want to make the most of your home search? Contact me and I’d be happy to answer questions or assist you in any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Holiday Home Décor Ideas for Buyers

holiday home decor ideas for buyersThere are still home seekers that will look for that perfect new home over the holidays, with the intent of moving into their new space in the New Year. Even though it’s not the most popular time to buy or sell real estate because of everyone’s hectic schedules and cold temperatures, house hunting will still be happening. An HGTV article cites that staging your home for the holidays should be stylish and neutral, giving a vibe of the season without going overboard.

So, what do you do so your home is styled in a festive manner without making it look like a scene from “Christmas Vacation”? The following real estate tips will help, offering ideas for decorating your home and keeping your buyers in the right spirit!

Start with a clean slate. Staging your home, no matter the season, should not be overdone. And before you even unpack that first holiday decoration, make sure to clear out and clean the clutter! Take a look at your house “pre-décor”, and make sure it’s already staged, which means the extra tchotchkes and collections have been put away. If you add your ceramic Christmas tree collection to the mix without cleaning, it will surely look cluttered.

People tend to use all additional spaces in the home when they decorate for holidays, and when staging your home, this isn’t a great idea. You still want the rooms in your home to look as spacious as possible, which means limiting the holiday décor. If you think you may miss your 20 Santa figurines, keep in mind that with a little staging strategy, you’ll be celebrating your nextholiday in a new home…and you can decorate in any way you like!

Holiday flair should be cozy and coordinating. Items like a crystal bowl with pinecones or an evergreen wreath can really spruce up your house. It’s best to also match your existing décor with your holiday style. If you have a dining room painted in a soothing sky blue, stay in harmony with it by opting for white snowflakes or silver-toned ornaments and table coverings. Adding red and green to the mix would clash and not complement. The traditional red and green color scheme works well as accent tones if your room has more earthy colors like forest greens, oranges and golds.

Also, tone down gaudy light displays while your home is on the market. It’s best to use simple string lighting to play up your home’s structure or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.

Highlight the positive. As stated earlier, too many holiday items scattered throughout the home will distract, but if you add the right accessories in the right spots, it will accent your home’s best features. Think about placement of mistletoe in the arched doorway or displaying your menorah on the ledge of your living room’s bay window. When decorating, just make sure to not block a beautiful view or place cheap-looking window decals that may distract the home buyer from your lovely backyard’s vista. Own a custom fireplace? It may be best to not place 6 personalized stockings over it, taking away from its architectural details.

Neutrality is key. When trying to sell your house, it’s best to leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year as well as multiple blow-ups in the front yard like snow globes with a Santa. Because you want to attract any type of home buyer, it’s best to keep low key décor that isn’t overly religious. You also want to make sure the front yard is safe and not scattered with extension cords to activate the Christmas inflatables. An example of neutral décor may include nutcrackers, reindeer and snowmen.

Trim the tree. If a Christmas tree is in your holiday décor plans, make sure the tree fits your space nicely and not overwhelm it. Have a small living room? Use a skinny tree to save space. When your house is on the market, it also may be best to use cohesive ornaments instead of the mismatched, homemade ones your children made in school. Although those ornaments are sentimental, homebuyers will not understand their significance. Instead, set the stage for a perfect holiday in your home with a tree that looks tailored and tasteful.

Have questions about purchasing a new home in the Metro-east or selling your existing one during the holiday season? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Why You Want To Work With A Realtor®

work with a realtorAnyone that has worked with me knows that I have a genuine passion to find the perfect home for my clients. I love real estate and truly believe that investing in your home is one of the most important investments you can make. A home is where memories are made, love is shared, and your true personal taste and style can be expressed.

When finding someone the perfect home, it’s important to really be able to relate to the client. A Realtor® definitely needs to be a “people-person” to be successful! Listening is one of the best traits of a good Realtor® because finding the perfect home goes beyond the zip code and the price per square foot – matching the needs of the new homeowner is paramount! Tailoring the home search to the client saves time and ultimately is a more enjoyable experience. Open house visits are fun, but when it’s time to get serious in your home search, it’s always best to hire a Realtor®.

One of my favorite mottos is “extraordinary efforts produce extraordinary results.” I offer more of a personal concierge service to ensure that my clients receive the most information about neighborhoods, techniques and recommendations regarding the home buying or home building process, with on-going communication throughout the process. If you’re looking to relocate or change homes in the Metro-east area, I can help make the transition a smooth one!

There are many fantastic neighborhoods in the Metro-east. Here are just a few of my favorites along with some features to fall in love with, time and time again.

Ebbet’s Field
Niche.com ranked Edwardsville and Glen Carbon two of the BEST places to live in Madison County. Statistics were based on low crime rates, cost of living, job opportunities, and amenities. The Niche website gave both communities an A+! The Ebbet’s Field subdivision is a good representation of why these communities impress. This neighborhood is mere minutes from shopping as well as the excellent schools in District 7. The newer, full-service and local YMCA is also just down the street. Prices range from $400,000 and up.

Savannah Crossing
Another family-oriented development, this subdivision is located in Glen Carbon. Prices range from $300,000 and up and this development boasts a collection of craftsman and traditional style homes. Community-minded and located conveniently by the many Madison County Bike Trails, Savannah Crossing is also close to shopping and is a part of the Edwardsville School District.  Another good reason to think about living in one of the “Top 100 Places to Live”, as ranked in CNN Money.

Brookshire Hamlet
Another beautiful development in the heart of Edwardsville is Brookshire Hamlet. Easy access to everything we love about Edwardsville, it’s also easy access to all major Interstates and only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis. This is a simplified living community, which means it’s maintenance free living with lawn and landscaping care included along with snow shoveling and exterior maintenance responsibilities. Looking for a home site to build your next home? This might be it!

@Cloverdale
A perfect place for friends to gather, share day’s events or simply relax.. @Cloverdale the neighborhood has tremendous walkability factor for a relaxing evening walk with the family, friends, the dog or on your own for a bit of solitude. Hit the trails for a morning workout & easily traverse the 100 plus mile system full of the best that nature can offer. Another bonus: @Cloverdale is only a 20-25 minute walk to downtown Edwardsville for a beautiful morning at the farmer’s market or a delicious trip to one of the local coffee shops

Other neighborhoods that many of my clients now call “home” include Timberwolfe Estates, Arbor Lake, Somerset, Governor’s Way and Stonecliff Manor. Nearby Troy, Illinois is another emerging community that offers a great school district, restaurants, parks and shopping. Hampton Glen and Shadow Creek are two neighborhoods in Troy that are highly suitable when a new home is in your future.

I’ve only named a few of the neighborhoods and communities in the Metro-east area that offer wonderful homes with great features and amenities. My knowledge of the area goes beyond the neighborhoods I’ve listed here, and once I know your budget, ideal location and “wish list” items, I’ll be able to help determine which neighborhoods will best suit you. You can also find  additional communities highlighted on my website at https://SandieLaMantia.com/.

It’s my ultimate goal as a Realtor® to find you the perfect home. I can also assist you when selling your existing home because I have a comprehensive knowledge of the local market and what works! I can help you determine which home features will lead you to a higher sale price, negotiating with the right buyer so you can sell your home efficiently and stress-free. Want to learn more? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

How to Properly Winterize Your Home

winterize your homeThere are a number of different things you can do as a homeowner to winterize your home. Where we live, we can experience the mildest of winters one year and a bitterly cold mix of winter storms and below zero temperatures the next. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so here are some simple ways you can winterize your home in the next month to make sure your home is safe and sound.

Have a winter storm kit prepared. A home safety kit is a good idea, no matter the weather. The experts recommend having a container filled with food, bottled water, and other supplies that will last up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Some companies even offer pre-made kits! If a big ice storm hits and the roads become too treacherous to travel on, you’ll be glad you took some time to make a storm kit. It’s also beneficial to have one on hand just in case you lose power because of storms taking out power lines.

Trim trees in your landscaping. If you live in a wooded area and there are tree branches next to your home’s roof, windows, or electrical lines, it’s a good idea to trim them now. Keep in mind that ice and snow will weigh branches down even more, so there is definitely potential for damage to your home or landscaping.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector check. Unfortunately, the winter months have an increase in home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces more often. Keep your loved ones safe and make sure your detectors have new batteries and if one isn’t working properly, change it out.

Fireplace chimney inspections. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or inspected? Visit www.csia.org for information on chimney safety and to find a certified chimney sweep. Cleaning your chimney each season is just one more safeguard against house-fires.

Install proper doors and windows. The better your windows and doors, the better your energy efficiency will be. Storm doors and windows also can be beneficial, and some tax credits are even available. If you can’t afford new windows, doublecheck your insulation around doors and windows and use blinds and shades to help keep the cool weather out.

Check your heating and cooling system. There are many qualified HVAC businesses in our area, and it’s important to have your furnace inspected annually by a dependable technician. It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ducts cleaned and inspected for any leaks and to regularly change your furnace’s filter throughout the winter months. A professional HVAC technician will be able to assess your existing system and help you determine what may need to be done before the cold weather hits.

Reverse ceiling fans for better circulation. Using your ceiling fans in the winter helps to keep your house warm. On typical ceiling fans, there are switches to reverse the flow. This pushes warm air downward and helps it to recirculate throughout the rooms in your home. When warmer weather is upon us, don’t forget to switch the direction again.

Keep your house colder. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler and you’ll be pleased at the lower energy bill. Wearing a sweater or layers while at home is one of the easiest ways to save money during the winter months on your utility bill.

Other things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for the cooler weather is to bring outdoor patio furniture and accessories inside for storing, also bringing any plants and flowering trees inside before the first frost. Another good idea is to clean and winterize any outdoor equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers, inspecting any of the winter tools you have during the process.

Even though there are still plenty of nice days ahead, winter will be here before we know it. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the colder weather and you’ll be more comfortable, too. Have questions about living in the Metro-east or need some tips about home ownership? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

“Sandie’s Two Cents:” What Happens During a Closing?

what happens during a closingThe home search is over! You have finally found the perfect home in the ideal location, negotiated the price, had your offer accepted, and are ready to make the big move. After the walk-through, appraisal, and some constructive “back-and-forth” with the agents, family members, and friends, the next step is finally here: it’s closing time! The closing is an exciting milestone in the overall home purchasing process and it’s the final piece of the puzzle when buying and financing a home.

Taken directly from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, the closing, or sometimes referred to as a “settlement”, is when “you and the other parties in a mortgage loan transaction sign the necessary documents” so that the new, beloved home is finally your own! The closing documents make you responsible for the mortgage loan, so it’s important that you know what you are signing during the closing process.

One particular document, the closing disclosure, is a form that includes all final terms of the loan, closing costs, details of who pays and who receives any of the payments in the transaction. This document is a form that has replaced the previous HUD document (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Another document, the initial escrow statement (also called the initial escrow disclosure), lists what is going in the escrow account each month so taxes and insurance is paid on the homebuyer’s behalf. This document also shows the estimated balance in the escrow monthly as payments are made and how their account adjusts.

Contractual documents include the promissory note, which outlines clearly what you are agreeing to. It will include what you owe, interest rate of the mortgage loan, the dates when payments are to be made, total amount, length of time to repay, and more. Another form, a mortgage or security instrument, explains responsibilities as well as rights as a borrower. There are additional state and local government documents that are typically used to collect information about you, the new homeowner. Lender documents will also need to be signed at this time, too. When you receive the closing disclosure, you can ask your lender to provide a full set of all the documents listed here. This way, you can review them in advance and before the closing.

The closing process usually includes your real estate agent or Realtor®, the title company representative, also known as the closer, and potentially the lender. Your lender may or may not attend the closing. State regulations are different, so the closing meeting may include everyone at the conference room table while signatures are happening or it could take several days if signatures are being compiled separately. In some cases, a closing may even be via the internet or mail.

Regardless how the actual closing process happens, it’s important to understand that the paperwork has lasting financial implications. Before signing, make sure the documents have been reviewed and are understood. Don’t sign the documents if you’re unsure of making the payments or if there are errors. Ask questions if you don’t understand something involving the terms of the loan. Also keep in mind that over time, your payments may change. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, payments may increase over time so make sure you know when it will change and by how much. Even fixed-rate mortgages may change because of variations to taxes or insurance.

Being prepared at closing will help alleviate any stress and let you focus instead on this momentous event. Being a new homeowner is definitely a reason to celebrate! If you’re interested in a new home or want to learn more about selling your existing home, I’d love to help. I’ve assisted many families and individuals in the Metro-east area and beyond find their dream home. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.