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How to Be a First-Time Homeowner With No Regrets

Posted by KTG on February 7, 2014  |   No Comments »

First Time Home Owner

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be a First-Time Homeowner With No Regrets

Wandering into the great unknown that is first-time home ownership takes guts, money and guidance. You have to have the guts to take the leap, so that one’s on you. To help you foresee some of the financial pitfalls, there are great resources available, like this one and this one. You can also turn to an experienced lender such as Marty Mates (Caliber Home Loans) or Misi Johnson (Access National Mortgage), or a real estate agent you trust. And you probably won’t be wanting for advice — whether you asked for it or not — from family, friends or coworkers.

Despite all the well-meaning resources available, I meet buyers and sellers everyday who tell me stories of first-time home-buying regret. I hate regret, so to help you act like a pro, even if it’s your maiden buying experience, here are four common regrets I’ve heard about and how to avoid them.

Regret No. 1. “When we bought our first home, we paid attention mainly just to the price.”

Only seeing the value of a home in terms of price and not paying close enough attention to other details can lead to regret. Before making an offer, think about how long you plan to live there. You aren’t likely to stay in your first home forever, so even though it may seem far away, factor in the home’s potential resale value.

When you judge a house by its reasonable price, you might be tempted to focus on the amenities — walk-in-closet, garden tub, big laundry room, etc. — and fail to notice the power lines in the back, lack of a coat closet or “eccentric” orientation of a room with windows. (How are you going to fit a sofa in there?) A “good deal” might not seem like such a good deal after all.

When a number drives your buying decisions, you can also lose sight of your goals. Why are you buying a home? How do you want your home to accommodate your lifestyle? Often, buyers are scared to pull the trigger on the first few houses they see because they are fearful that they are acting too soon. Your real estate agent should help you uncover your goals and priorities and select houses that are the “best fit,” pre-qualifying your options so that you see the best of the best.

Regret No. 2. “We didn’t think through our move very well, and it turned into a real nightmare.”

Whether you’re a typical DIYer or a hire-it-out kind of person, take into account all of your options before committing to a moving strategy.

If you are considering moving yourself, and you have a team of very tolerant, strong, patient friends and family, go for it! Otherwise, I would almost always recommend hiring a professional moving company.

These companies do moves daily and know how to take tricky turns and bends without damaging your walls and belongings. Movers also carry insurance that will cover your items should they break during the move. I’m guessing Uncle Mike isn’t going to re-patch your drywall or replace the Target dresser that loses a leg on your DIY moving day.

Hiring pros can also save time and stress. Before the big day, they will come in and evaluate your move, taking into account everything to be transported, especially items requiring additional security or care, and then provide you with an estimate for your move.

If you are like me, you would rather pack yourself so that you have an opportunity to purge some things (silver lining).  Other people would rather stand in rain for a week rather than pack their own things. If this is you, hiring a mover to pack and move is a good idea. However you pack, be sure to label everything to save time when you unpack at the new place.

 

Regret No. 3. “I fell in love with a rug/color/pattern/style, dropped a lot of money on it, and it never really worked in our house.”

Do not spend money on new décor before you move into your house! Live in the space, friends. Far too often people get sucked into the weekend “Big Bang Sale” or “Door Buster Savings” and walk away with a sectional for the basement that won’t make it down the stairs. I know moving into a new house is exciting, and decorating is even more exciting, but taking the time to know scale and orientation of how you want to live in a house will save you big bucks down the road. I’ve personally made this mistake several times and I wish I were more patient. When in doubt, consult someone who has a keen sense of style (I love sharing my “decorator” two cents) or an interior designer for feedback.

A lot of people get hung up on defining their personal style and decorate accordingly, which can make your home feel dated fast. Instead of going all out Arts and Crafts, Victorian or modern, consider first what you want from your space. For example, is your family room meant for formal gatherings or do you want it to be your everyday TV-watching-kids-playing room? Let your lifestyle guide your decorating decisions.

Knowing your budget will help you avoid regrets, too.  Decorating is not cheap, but it also doesn’t need to break the bank. Look at photos of rooms and décor that catch your eye. Create a look-book on Pinterest or Houzz. Browse issues of Architectural Digest and House Beautiful. The Indiana Design Center in Carmel is open to the public and offers fabulous resources, from flooring, to fixtures, to countertops. Showing someone an example of what you like will help her or him understand you and assist you with buying decisions.

Be cautious with trends.  I love chevron, but if I put it all over my house, it will look crazy in, say, five years.  It is better to select your staples (couch, rug, etc.) in timeless fabrics and prints, and then use your accessories to “pop” your room.  It is much less expensive to buy a new lampshade or pillows every few years than it is to recover a couch and buy new rugs. I love adding drapery to rooms to warm things up.  This could be a great way to bring in your own style.

My budget go-to shop for those “pop” items is TJ Maxx HomeGoods. Browse their accessories, rugs and lamps. Of course Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma Home have great products and ideas. I also think Target has come a long way in the home décor game, often featuring designers such as Nate Berkus who create seasonal pieces.

Regret No. 4. “We never made friends in our first neighborhood.”

When you are buying a home, you are also buying into all those homes around it. Once you buy, adapting to the neighborhood is a lot easier and more fulfilling when you are proactive about making friends and meeting new people.

Find out if your neighborhood has a homeowners’ association. If it does, check with the folks there regarding the “happenings” of the neighborhood and get involved. An HOA can share with you the ins and outs, and dos and don’ts of your new home base. Even better, being on your HOA board will help you get to know people and be aware and involved regarding changes or issues that may affect homeowners.

To learn the lay of the land of your new neighborhood, don’t wait for neighbors to come to you. If you see someone out and about, introduce yourself!  If there is a parade, pool party, block party, euchre night … attend! You will likely never regret it.

 

Whether you’re a first-time owner or a seasoned pro, the Kelly Todd Group can help you have the best experience possible. Contact us to meet.

Devour Downtown

Posted by KTG on January 15, 2014  |   No Comments »

 

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Have you ever wanted the opportunity to dine at the city’s most talked about restaurants? Check out Devour Downtown from January 20th, 2014 – February 2nd, 2014 and have a chance to try out one or all of these fabulous restaurants without breaking the bank.  Click on their website below for a list of restaurants and menus!  This is an event you will not want to miss!

Devour Downtown

A Time to be Thankful

Posted by KTG on November 27, 2013  |   No Comments »

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The Kelly Todd Group would like to wish you & your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We sincerely appreciate your support & business and wish you a lovely holiday season.

Cheers!

Kelly, Michael, Kris & Scott

Being Happy With 90 Percent

Posted by KTG on November 15, 2013  |   No Comments »

 

 

 

90percent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Happy With 90 Percent

When you’re in a relationship, there will be little quirks that your partner has that you would prefer he or she not have. But you live with them and it’s ok. Because 90 percent of the time, your partner is perfect.

Whether you are buying or selling, you will never have a perfect experience. I would love to tell you that everything will be sunshine and rainbows, but this is the real world. While we do everything possible to minimize unexpected hiccups and stress, we can’t control everything. Therefore, it is useful to accept these facts up front so that you aren’t unnecessarily disappointed when something doesn’t go according to the ideal plan.

BUYERS

If you are a buyer, you are never going to get 100 percent of what you want. For example, you might get your ideal location but have to concede the walk-in closets and granite countertops. The important thing is to set priorities. Your agent should know and understand what is most important to you so that he or she can figure out the best compromise when it is necessary.

I typically walk through a home with buyers and raise questions and objections. For example, they need to think about the salability of their home in the future. When you are laying out your priorities, consider how long you plan to be in the house. What are your immediate and future needs?

As they say in the market, “location, location, location.” This proves to be a major key in home hunting. This is not to say that a house on a busy corner is a bad one; it just might not produce the same market as one on a quiet street. The values for two exact homes in different locations could be vastly different.

Think of buying a home like going shopping. You can buy the $1,000 dress, but then you might not have enough money left to buy shoes and jewelry. If money is no object, you might not have this issue. But for the majority of people, you aren’t going to get what you want all the time.

There are some things that I would not call “deal breakers” for buyers because they can be updated or changed relatively easily. These include:

  • Outdated kitchens and baths
  • Bad carpeting or flooring
  • Paint colors
  • Poor landscaping

And then there are those things that buyers should not compromise on. For example, you can’t control how your neighbors treat their homes. If the homes are run-down and in poor condition in the neighborhood you’re considering, this is a bright red flag. Look around the neighborhood and see if it is a place you would like to call home. If every other home looks like it is falling down, but the one house you want to see is perfect, it won’t matter in the long run — keep on looking.

Another deal breaker is if the home doesn’t have the space you need now, and you aren’t willing to add on — move on. Also, consider if the home is located next to immovable items. You will forever be next to power lines, water towers, rail road tracks, highways, sewage treatment plants, etc., if those things are in place today.

As a basic point, the right house should meet your criteria for numbers of bedrooms and baths. The overall space should fit your needs. Oftentimes, people tackle their dream list (think four bedrooms, three full baths, finished basement, fully updated, etc.) but don’t want to face the price.  You may not get everything on your wish list, but you can certainly find 90 percent.

While you need to stick to your guns only your top priorities, you do have to be flexible on location and price. If you prefer to have it all and not adjust the price, you may have to move to a slightly different area from where you are currently searching. If that isn’t an option and you have a set area, you will likely have to scale back your expectations.

SELLERS

The same 90 percent “rule” applies to sellers as well as buyers. Sellers’ biggest hot-button issue is the inspection. Buyers will likely request inspection items the seller doesn’t want to perform. Repairs the buyer considers important often seem ridiculous to the seller, but you have to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

A major disappointment can also rear its head when there’s just not a buyer for your home. If there isn’t a buyer, you can’t create one. But you can think about how you might be able to improve the situation.

First, consider the facts. If 15 homes have pended in your market over the past month and you haven’t gotten an offer, look at the condition, price and location of your home. You can’t change your location, so you may want to consider improving the condition or lowering your price. If only one house has pended, the market is just soft and there’s not enough evidence to suggest you need to change either your home’s condition or price.

For sellers, the wait for a buyer is the most common headache that makes the selling experience less than perfect. To improve your odds, your agent should make sure the condition and price of your house are done right, looking at statistics and market research to compare.

They should do everything they can to get people in your house. Consider the number of showings you’re getting; this should be a direct reflection of the market. Hold your agent accountable for generating showings.

It often takes patience for the right buyer to come, and when they come, you have to have the best house — priced competitively, right size, right location, the amenities the buyer wants, curb appeal, etc. Or, you have to at least have 90 percent of what they’re looking for in a home.

Whether you’re selling or buying, the Kelly Todd Group can help you have the best experience possible. Contact us to meet. 

How Do I Get Paid When I Sell a House?

Posted by KTG on November 6, 2013  |   No Comments »

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How Do I Get Paid When I Sell a House?

It’s taboo. We aren’t supposed to talk about religion, politics or money, but I know that many of my clients want to know exactly how and why I earn a commission on a home sale. While I certainly can’t answer this question for every Realtor in Indianapolis, I can speak for myself. If you want more information, I am happy to discuss this “taboo” subject in person.

First of all, I am not paid until your home sells. At the time of closing, after all the work has been completed, I receive a commission.

So how do I earn my commission? With the Kelly Todd Group, you receive a blend of tactics, experience and street smarts to set you up for success. That includes the following:

Market Research

Asking the right price at the right time for your home is critical to a successful home sale. We know how to carry out a thorough market analysis to establish fair market value. At the Kelly Todd Group, regular market updates help us identify sales and competition to ensure we are competitive for our sellers.

We are checking comparables like a teenager checks her cell phone — constantly. At any given time, we know what’s under contract. We are previewing properties. We know the market to keep you competitive throughout the selling process.

Staging

Most of our clients keep very nice homes, but that is not enough when it comes to selling their homes. When you’re selling your house, it needs to look like a model home. As part of our services, we help with staging, from the curb to the coat closet. As a general rule, half of what you have in your house needs to be removed, and the majority of personal items need to be taken out. Deshrine your rooms of too many family photos, but not so much that your home looks sterile. We make sure buyers can see themselves in the house. Your kitchen can’t look like you just made breakfast and walked out the door.

The only tell-tale signs that someone actively lives in your home should be a fully stocked fridge. And even your refrigerator, stove and closets should be immaculate. What’s behind these closed doors is a direct reflection of the overall condition of a home.

Prospective buyers don’t care about how much you paid for it, how much money you put into it or the stuff you have in it. They just care about their needs. We know what it takes to get the best response from your showing and solicit a high offer. This expertise is part of how we earn our money on a home sale.

Administrative Services

No seller wants to mishandle the administrative tasks that go along with listing and selling a home. Typically, our sellers simply don’t have the time or interest in dotting all those i’s and crossing all those t’s. As part of our commission, we complete and manage all listing documentation and contracts. We gather feedback from showings and communicate it with our sellers.

We also negotiate the transaction with the buyer’s agent once an offer has been made. Once a sales contract is drawn up, we confirm that all contingencies are completed. We also closely monitor all lender and escrow activities to ensure a successful closing.

Marketing Tactics

We know what works when it comes to marketing your home. To market a home to its fullest potential, we complete the following:

  • Listing entered into the BLC: This is the multiple listing system service that is available to all cooperating Realtors so they can immediately see that your home is ripe for the picking.
  • Weekly reverse-prospect searches: These types of searches help us pinpoint prospective buyers and directly contact their agents.
  • “For Sale” sign and flyer box: Of course, nothing says your home is up grabs as well as a sign in your front yard.  If traffic and safety allow, we include a brochure box so passersby can grab a highlight sheet for their own use or to share with a friend in the market for a home.
  • Lock box placed on your property: Your home’s security is paramount. When we contact you to schedule a showing, and you approve the date and time, we use a lock box to get in and out. For added security, our lock boxes electronically document who enters and exits your home.
  • Advertising:  An “Open House” ad featuring your home will be marketed on websites and on TalkToTucker.com. Your home will also appear in ads in Tucker Talks Homes Magazine
  • Online listings: A Tucker survey found that 88 percent of consumers begin their home search online, and 32 percent of buyers found a home via the Internet. That’s why we promote your home on online sites including msn Real Estate, Home Search, HomeFinder, Luxury Portfolio, Yahoo! Homes, Aol Real Estate, MIBOR, Homes.com, Zillow, Overstock.com, Trulia and Realtor.com.
  • Social media: People looking for a home are talking to friends, checking local agency’s social channels and sharing like crazy. When you list with Kelly Todd Group, expect to see your home on Kelly Todd Group and Tucker’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
  • Professional photography/tour: Frequent showings aren’t the only way interested buyers can take a look around your home. When your home looks its very best, we hire a professional photographer to take video and photographs — inside and out — to create a virtual tour of your home and to produce glossy, poster-size promotional pieces. (Ask someone at the Kelly Todd Group to show you a sample.)
  • Direct alerts: When we list your home, we can send direct alerts to potential buyers regarding your listing. Working through a vast network of agents, we get to hot leads fast.
  • Open houses (if desired): If an open house is requested, we will handle all the details.
  • Professionally scheduled showings: The Kelly Todd Group uses Tucker’s Centralized Showing Service to schedule showings. When someone wants to show your home, you are contacted quickly. Before anyone visits your home, you must approve the showing date and time.

In a nutshell, that’s what you, as the seller, receive from the Kelly Todd Group when you work with us.  If you have other questions about our process or services, please contact us. If you want to talk politics and religion now, it might be best if you contact someone else.

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  • Contact Info:

    Kelly Todd, REALTOR®
    F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.
    First Vice President, Residential Division
    317.580.7822 Direct
    317.258.5253 Cell
    317.524.7563 Fax
    kelly@talktotucker.com

    F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.
    9279 N. Meridian St.
    Indianapolis, IN 46260