Appliance Therapy: What to Do If Your Dishwasher Is Terrible at Cleaning Your Dishes

Appliance Therapy: What to Do If Your Dishwasher Is Terrible at Cleaning Your DishesAs kitchen appliances go, there are few loved more than the dishwasher. They can be a major time saver – that is, if your dishes are coming out clean. Let’s take a quick look at a few steps you can take if your dishwasher is not doing its job.

Give It A Good Cleaning

It may seem a bit strange to think about having to clean the dishwasher, but they do require maintenance from time to time. Grease, bits of food and leftover detergent can all build up, leading to reduced performance.

Here’s one cleaning recipe to try. On the top rack of the dishwasher, place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container and run a cleaning cycle. Once it has finished, sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher, and run it again.

Check That You’re Loading It Correctly

You might be surprised to learn that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to load a dishwasher. And that loading instructions vary between different models. If your dishes are not coming out sparkling clean, see if you can track down the operator’s manual. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to load the dishes in the dish racks. This is a simple step that might fix the problem.

Check That The Drainage Is Clear

Although you can’t see anything clogging the inside of the drain filter, that does not mean that the drain itself is clear. Most dishwasher models allow you to take the internal drain assembly off so that you can get at the drain without having to pull out the dishwasher. If yours does, it is worth taking some time to get in there and clean out the gunk. A partially-blocked drain will lead to dirty dishes. A fully-blocked drain can lead to a messy catastrophe.

Still Not Working? Make The Call

If you have exhausted the list above and your dishwasher still isn’t working correctly, it is time to call in an appliance repair professional. If you continue to use the dishwasher, it may end up failing and causing water damage to your kitchen flooring. If the dishwasher is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer as they will likely have a contract with a local repair shop.

If you’re in the market to buy a home with a fabulous dishwasher, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to help.

‘Pine’-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to ‘Spruce’ up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some ‘pop’ to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room’s paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some “rip and refinish” hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman.

While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best new home to put them in. When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact your local professional real estate agent.

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful Sources

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful SourcesAre you in the market for a new house or condo in 2018? With the new year just around the corner, now is the time to get all of your financial details in order. As you may know, buying a home is a significant financial transaction. But it all starts with your down payment, which is the lump sum that you invest in order to purchase the home. In today’s blog post we will share a few sources of funds that you can tap into for help saving up your down payment.

Peer Into Your Financial Future

A helpful first step is to map out your financial future. Do you have any lump-sum payments such as an annual bonus or a tax return coming up? If so, those are excellent sources of funds to help build up your down payment.

Put A Stop To Unnecessary Spending

Any time you want to save money, an obvious step is to cut as much unnecessary spending as you can. Invest the time in creating a strict monthly budget which includes setting money aside for your down payment. Be sure to watch for any daily habits that are eating away at your savings, such as high-priced specialty coffees or eating out regularly.

Research Local Homebuyer Assistance Programs

Don’t forget that you’re not alone in your quest for home ownership. There are numerous federal, state and municipal homebuyer assistance programs that offer financial help when buying a home. Your local real estate professional will be happy to share some insight.

Check In With Your Employer

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your employer to see if there are any home ownership grants or subsidies. Down payment and home-buying assistance programs are becoming more popular with companies as an extra perk to offer employees. Send a quick email or stop by the human resources department to let them know you’re in the market for a home and to see if any programs are on offer. If your workplace does have a program like this, it’s the perfect time to take advantage.

Having your down payment funds ready will make the buying process faster and show your mortgage lender that you’re prepared for home ownership. For more information about local real estate opportunities, contact your local real estate professional. We’re happy to share some amazing listings that perfectly suit your needs.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 20, 2017

Last week’s economic news included remarks by Fed Chair Janet Yellen about the diversity of opinions in the Federal Open Market Committee, readings on inflation, and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department issued reports on housing starts and building permits issued; Freddie Mac and the Commerce Department issued weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Fed Chair Discusses Pros and Cons of Diverse Opinions Among Policymakers

During a panel presentation of global economic leaders, outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen discussed the pros and cons of having 19 members on the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for the Fed’s policymaking decisions.

Chair Yellen said that it was “challenging” in terms of expressing diverse member opinions into a pat statement of Fed policy. She noted that multiple opinions on any aspect of the Fed’s decisions could be confusing for the public. She also said that individual and varied opinions were essential in considering all aspects of the Fed’s policy decisions: “The most important strength is that we avoid ‘group-think,’ which is a real pitfall for policy committees.”

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Hits EightMonth High

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest housing market index reading in eight months. The monthly survey of home builders consists of readings on builder confidence in present housing market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and the volume of buyer traffic in new housing developments. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions.

November’s reading of 70 was two points higher than in October; analysts expected a one-point decline to 67. Concerns over tax reforms potentially impacting homeowner tax deductions for mortgage interest were expected to impact builder confidence, but NAHB did not mention tax reform in their summation of builder confidence readings for November.

Component readings used to comprise the HMI reading were mixed. Builder sentiment increased two points to 77 for current housing market conditions. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped by one point to 77 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose two points to an index reading of 50.

Builders have repeatedly cited concerns about shortages of lots and labor as well as increasing costs for building materials. NAHB said in a statement that November’s Housing Market Index reading was a “strong indicator that the housing market continues to grow steadily.”

According to the Commerce Department, October housing starts rose to 1.29 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts expected 1.20 million starts based on September’s reading of 1.14 million starts. 5.30 percent of housing starts were single-family construction.

Builders also took out more building permits in October; 1.30 million permits were issued against 1.23 million permits issued in September. The increased volume of building permits was partially attributed to reconstruction after hurricanes in Florida and Texas, but in the Northeast, building permits rose by 42 percent. The Northeast region is the smallest reported, but warm weather was cited as boosting permits issued.

Builder sentiment has been strong all year and was propelled by healthy job markets and lower mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Fixed mortgage rates rose last week with the average rate for an average 30-year fixed rate of 3.95 percent; the average 15-year mortgage rate rose seven basis points to an average of 3.31 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped one basis point to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 249,000 last week as compared to estimates of 235,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 239,000 new jobless claims. Jobs lost and a backlog of first-time claims due to recent hurricanes were cited as the primary cause for the rise in new jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on previously-owned home sales, minutes from the Fed’s last Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 Questions

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 QuestionsHave you been dreaming about a larger, roomier or more luxurious living space? Or perhaps just want to experience the joy of owning your own home and building your net worth instead of renting? Let’s explore a few questions that can help to answer whether or not you’re ready for a new lifestyle as a homeowner.

Can You Realistically Afford To Buy A Home?

The first consideration to make is a financial one: can you afford it? Buying in a home is a significant financial investment. In most cases you’ll need to manage monthly mortgage payments for many years. The good news: owning a home is a more affordable than you might think. If you’re already a stable renter then you’re most of the way there.

Do You Have Your Down Payment Saved Up?

If you’re confident that monthly payments are no problem, then the next step is saving up enough to cover your down payment. This is a lump-sum investment that you make when you buy the home. Typically your down payment is around 20 percent of the home’s cost, but there are assistance programs which can reduce this further.

Do You Know What Type Of Home You Need?

Once you’ve cleared all of the financial hurdles, you will next need to decide exactly what kind of home you need. If you’re a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home from which you can upgrade later. Or you might prefer something more rural which comes with more yard space, perfect for pets.

Are You Ready To Set Down Some Roots?

Finally, it’s worth taking some time to decide whether or not you’re ready to emotionally and physically invest in your local community. Is your career stable enough that you won’t be moving for at least a few years? What about that of your partner or spouse? If you don’t already, do you envision having children in the future? All of these are considerations that will help you choose the right neighborhood.

When you are ready, our professional real estate team is here to help you find the home of your dreams. To learn more about buying a home and to view homes that are perfect for first-time buyers, contact us today.

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let’s Take a Look

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let's Take a LookIs it time to upgrade or move on to a new home? If you are planning on listing your home for sale in the near future, you will have a few key considerations to make. Do we paint? Finish the basement into a suite? Renovate the bathroom, or leave it?

However, before you start worrying about renovations it can be helpful to understand how your home has stood the test of time. Let’s have a quick look at a few reasons why you may want to consider investing in a professional home inspection before selling your home.

Assessing Your Home’s Current Condition

Give some thought to your home’s current condition. How old is it? When was its last professional inspection? Has your home suffered any significant weather or other kinds of damage? Take a walk around and look at the key structural areas. Do you see any issues with the roof? How do the walls or siding look? Are there visible cracks in the home’s foundation? If there are obvious issues, it is time for an inspection.

Do You Need A Speedy Sale?

Another excellent reason to get your home inspected early in the selling process is that it’s likely to speed things along. If there are any repairs required, you can have them taken care of before you start staging your home, having professional photos taken and hosting open houses.

A recent inspection can also give you a competitive edge over nearby or similar homes that are for sale. It signals to potential buyers that you have done some of the heavy lifting in the process and that they are unlikely to uncover any major issues when they have their own inspection done.

Take Care Of ‘Deal Breaker’ Problems

Finally, a home inspection ensures that you will be able to take care of any potential deal-breaking issues that could ruin a sale. Even if you decide to skip repairing some of the minor issues, taking care of things like cracks in your foundation, mold problems or old electrical wiring will all help with keeping your sale on track.

These are just a few of the great reasons to invest in a professional home inspection before listing your home for sale. To learn more about the home selling process or to get started, contact your local real estate professionals.

4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making Them

4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making ThemAre you thinking about selling your home? If this is your first time going through the selling process, you may be wondering just how well things are going to go. Selling a home is usually a smooth process – there are thousands sold each day – but issues can arise if you’re not careful. Let’s explore four mistakes that are commonly made by first-time home sellers and how you can avoid them.

Trying To Sell Without Experienced Representation

The first and most significant mistake that some first-time sellers make is to try to go it alone. Selling a house is a major financial and legal transaction and one where experience is crucial in getting things right. Invest in an agent who has a track record of quick, efficient sales and you’re going to have an advantage.

Choosing Emotion Over Reason

Next, you’ll want to avoid letting your emotions control how you react or respond during the selling process. Many homeowners become emotionally attached to their homes, which is fine while you’re living there but can be a problem when you’re selling. It’s important to let logic and reason guide the sale. Don’t let yourself get caught up emotionally or you may make a critical mistake.

Pricing Outside Of A Realistic Range

Asking too much – or too little! – for their home is another common mistake made by first-time home sellers. It’s critical to understand that the local real estate market has a lot of influence on the correct asking price for your home. Current listings and recent sales of similar homes in the area tend to set a price range in the minds of buyers so these will need to be observed. Your real estate agent will be a big help in choosing the right sale price.

Selling At The Wrong Time

The final mistake we’ll cover today is listing your home for sale in the wrong environment. The local real estate market is in a constant state of change due to a variety of factors. The seasons, other local home listings, interest rates, new home construction, local municipal zoning changes and all sorts of other factors can influence your sale. Unless you are under a time constraint, it’s best to let your agent advise you when it’s a good time to list your home.

Selling your first home can be a daunting experience, but with the right frame of mind and professional representation, it will go smoothly. To learn more about the home selling process or to list your home for sale, contact us today. We are happy to assist you.

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won’t Refuse

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't RefuseAsk any experienced homeowner and you’ll learn that buying in a ‘hot’ real estate market can be challenging. A high supply of buyers competing for a low stock of available homes is a combination that can lead to bidding wars, price inflation, and other headaches. The good news: with some careful preparation and the right mindset, a bidding war is one that you can win. Read on to learn how you can beat out other bidders by making an irresistible offer.

Start With Strong Representation

Answer this question honestly: are you an experienced negotiator? Unless you have made a career out of buying and selling homes, you may find that your skills are lacking. The middle of a bidding war is a poor time to have this realization, so it’s best to start the process with strong professional representation. Invest the time in securing the services of an experienced real estate agent who has a history of successful home purchases and happy clients. For extra assurance, ask them for recent testimonials so you can hear how they helped other buyers.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage Financing

Now that you have a good real estate agent on your side, you’ll want to move to the next step: meeting with a mortgage lender. Your goal is to secure pre-approval for your mortgage financing, which will show the seller that you’re both prepared and serious about buying their home. Gather up recent financial information like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements before meeting with a mortgage professional. Being prepared will make the approval process a bit easier.

Have The Appraisal And Inspection Team Ready

Once you have found your dream home, you will need to move quickly to have it appraised and inspected. As with your other professionals, it’s best to pre-book these companies ahead of time so they’re ready to go. Ask your friends and family for referrals now so you can chat with potential appraisers and inspectors.

Be Serious About A Quick Closing Process

Finally, if it isn’t already obvious to them, make it clear to the seller that you’re interested in closing quickly. Every home seller is interested in a fast, efficient close so they can move on. Pushing the pace a bit will demonstrate that you’re not going to reverse course.

When you are ready to buy your dream home, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us today and we’ll share how we have helped other locals buy some amazing properties. We look forward to meeting you!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 13, 2017

Last week’s economic news included a survey of senior loan officers, Freddie Mac’s average mortgage rates, and new jobless claims. An index reading for consumer sentiment was also reported.

Loan Officers: Standards for Residential Real Estate Loans Eased or Unchanged

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Senior Loan Officers,72 institutions surveyed reported that all types of residential real estate loans saw easing of lending standards or no change in lending requirements. Demand for real estate loans eased, which likely influenced financial institutions decision not to tighten lending criteria for home loans. In contrast, banks surveyed indicated tighter lending requirements for auto loans and credit cards.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week.30-year fixed rates averaged 3.90 percent; 15-year fixed rates averaged 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.22 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Lower mortgage rates were good news for home buyers who continue to face high home prices coupled with competition by cash buyers.

First-time jobless claims increased by 10,000 new claims to 239,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 231,000 new claims based on the prior week. The week-to-week reading, which can be volatile, was eclipsed by the four-week rolling average of new claims, which hit its lowest reading since March 1973.

The bump in weekly first-time jobless claims was caused by a backlog in jobless claims filed in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Computer and infrastructure problems caused delays in claim filing.

Consumer sentiment dipped in November to an index reading of 97.8 as compared to an expected reading of 100.7 and October’s reading, also 100.7; Indicators of rising inflation concerned consumers, according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, housing starts, building permits issued and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Monthly readings on inflation and retail sales will also be released.

What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let’s Take a Look

What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let's Take a LookAre you thinking about selling your house? Before you decide to list your home up for sale, it is helpful to get a clear picture of how much it’s going to cost. Whether you are sprucing things up with a fresh coat of paint, replacing the roof membrane or just covering your taxes, there will be a few bills to pay. Let’s take a quick look at some of the true costs that you’ll incur when selling your home.

Is Your Home Ready To Sell?

The first question you will need to answer is whether or not your home is ready to sell. Unless your house is relatively new, it will likely need repairs and maintenance. Depending on the age and condition of your home, you may also decide to invest in a full home inspection. Having a professional inspector look things over is a good investment – especially if they find problem areas that require immediate attention.

Invest In A Good Real Estate Agent (And Their Commission)

To get the best price for your home, you will need to be represented by a great real estate agent. Of course, they are not going to work for free. Once the home sells, the agent is compensated with a percentage of the sale price, which is known as a commission. In some cases, the home seller also pays the commission for the buyer’s real estate agent as well.

Factor In Costs During The Sales Process

The selling process will also have its costs. From lawyers’ fees to excise taxes, there is no shortage of small costs that can start to add up. You may decide to invest a bit in your open houses in order to make them more welcoming. Or you might need to close out your mortgage. Whatever the case, be sure to leave some space in your budget for these costs.

Moving Out Will Cost You Too

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the cost of moving to your new home. Many families fail to budget for moving expenses, which can be significant if you are moving out of a large home with a lot of furniture.

As you can see, selling a home is a major financial transaction and one that should be led by an experienced professional. When you are ready to begin the process of selling your home, give us a call. Your trusted real estate professional can advise you of local market conditions and ensure that you receive top dollar when you sell.