Test Drive a Home Before an Offer

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While that newly renovated home looks great in photos, what’s really behind that real estate listing could be too good to be true. When it comes to assessing a potential new home, the savvy buyer knows to relentlessly sleuth for any hidden problems. Like you would at a car dealership, test drive your potential future home for important features that easily go unnoticed. Here, Trulia.com explains how to make like a crime-scene detective and put your potential home to the test—before you submit an offer.

1. See what the neighbors are like

Before you step foot into a potential new place, drive by a few times. What’s the foot traffic like in the neighborhood? Do the strolling neighbors look more like young professionals or married couples with children? How much noise do the neighbors make? (Sneak in a Saturday night visit to get the full taste.) If you drive to work, test your morning and evening commutes and time how long it takes you.

2. Head out on a walking tour

Once you’ve examined the place by vehicle, it’s time to repeat on foot. See how long it takes you to get to the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, and make sure you love the local cuisine or cup of joe. (A walkability score considers only quantity, not quality, of amenities.) Scope out the nearest public transportation stations while gauging the condition of sidewalks and public plantings—a well-manicured neighborhood usually suggests stronger civic engagement.

3. Test out the plumbing

Don’t get seduced by the stand-up shower with the exposed copper pipes and wraparound glass doors—try it out yourself. How hard is the pressure? How quickly does the water heat? Test the bathroom and kitchen sinks while you’re at it. Water pressure shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but low pressure could indicate a damaging leak and more water problems (and expenses) down the road.

4. Open the windows

Even if it’s chilly, open a few windows, especially in the room that may be your future master bedroom. This is a good way to check if any windows are stuck, but also an opportunity to listen. Can you hear a lot of traffic or neighborly noise? Do your windows seem to bring in a lot of cross breezes, or do neighboring buildings block the airflow? When the windows are closed, can you feel drafts around the edge of the frames? Windows are crucial for the look and feel of your home.

5. Inspect the home’s natural lighting

If the open house happens on a cloudy day, schedule a follow-up visit when the sun is shining. See how the natural light flows through each room, especially high-traffic areas. If a room seems especially dark, consider whether the paint color is causing the problem. On the same note, you’ll want to see how dark the bedrooms can get. Close all the shades in all the bedrooms and see if the light still filters through; you might want to throw room-darkening shades onto your shopping list.

6. Keep your ears open for any unwanted noise

This is a biggie—condo sounds, in particular, can drive homeowners insane. Make multiple visits to a unit to catch surrounding neighbors when they’re home and making noise. If there are multiple condos for sale in the building, bring a friend and walk around upstairs or in the adjacent unit to see how noise travels. And be sure to ask if children live in the building; the pitter-patter of little feet is far less charming to those who live below them.
Once you’ve assessed noise levels, you should determine how sound travels within the home. Turn on the dryer to hear how loud it is. March around in the guest bedroom to determine how thick the walls are. If you’ll need to invest in sound insulation and throw rugs, it’s better to know now.

7. Scope out storage space

Some sellers clear their homes of all clutter, but many don’t. Rather than turn up your nose at an overstuffed bedroom closet, take out the tape measure and record some dimensions. The space may be larger than it seems; you can also take those measurements home and plan out a closet scheme online to see how much stuff it can really handle.

8. Don’t forget your marbles

Are those newly stained hardwood floors level? Bring a marble to find out. Discreetly place the marble on the hardwood floors: Does it stay put or start rolling? If the slope is especially steep, there might be a structural problem at play, but even a slightly uneven floor can become a bargaining chip.


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Everyone wants to retain a high home value, and location plays a key role. Although not many people would imagine living next to a specialty grocery store makes a difference, Zillow uncovered homes near Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have the highest values.
This phenomenon is linked to ” The Starbucks Effect.” During the time period of 1997 to 2014, homes situated a quarter-mile from a Starbucks Cafe increased in value by 96 percent. This was approximately 30 percent more than other locations. In major metropolitan areas, this makes a big difference. For instance, the largest increase occurred in Boston. Home values near Starbucks in this city were boosted 171 percent. Taking a look at the bigger picture, values were not dependent on coffee alone. It had much more to do with neighborhood modernization. When a new Starbucks chain is built, it gives developers the idea that the area is in an upward swing.
Since 2000, homes near specialty food stores had higher property values than other pieces of real estate. The trend was especially evident in 2014. By the end of this year, houses within one-mile of these retail outlets had a value doubling other areas.
There is a great lessen to be learned, especially if you are searching for a new place to live. Looking through listings near a specialty grocery store or Starbucks Cafes will almost guarantee a retained or increased home value. However, you should be careful not to spend all your savings on groceries or coffee.wpid-20110910_104935.jpg


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Instead of wasting money on Christmas presents no one uses, you may consider giving the gift of real estate. Although it may seem overly generous, if you are in a solid financial position, gifting a home may be a smart option. However, it is essential to keep tax rules in mind.
Purchasing a Home OutrightTo fill all preferences, it is recommended to choose a home after collaborating with the recipient. Instead of giving the house, accountants explain it is better to give money.When you give cash, you must remember two tax limits. Each year, you can give up to $14,000 tax-free. However, lifetime exemptions cannot exceed $5.45 million. Most individuals will never reach this limit, which means there are no tax implications, but the gifter must file a gift tax return.
Gift a Down Payment
Gifting cash for a down payment works in the same manner. However, this may cause problems during the mortgage process. Most times, it is necessary to submit a certified letter that explains the money is a gift.
Gift an Existing Home
Although your children may be interested in your family home, gifting it may not be smart. Down the road, when your children sell, they will have to pay expensive taxes.
If you still want to gift a home, there are other options:
Revocable Trust. This helps heirs avoid probate costs and allows you to gift your current home after you die.
Sell for a Low Price. The difference between your home’s value and the sale price follows your lifetime exemption, and the sale is tax-free.
Give Seller Financing. Instead of sending your children for a mortgage, you may consider offering seller financing.
When gifting a home, it is essential to watch your allowed exemptions. Besides these issues, it is a possible tax-free solution that helps family members retain a nice place to live.
Tags: gift, home buyers, home owner, real estate
« Pending Home Sales Post First Gain in Three Months10 Tips to save energy over the Holidays »

Save Energy During the Holidays!

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You have probably dropped a load of money on Christmas gifts and do not want any extra expenses. To curb energy bills, here are 10 simple tips that will help you conserve energy.
1. Switch to LED LightsRunning LED lights costs a fraction of the money it takes to use standard bulbs. As you decorate your home, it is worth switching your old strands for new LEDs.
2. Turn Out the Lights
Although Christmas lights look beautiful, it is essential to turn them off when you go to bed at night. It is also possible to use automatic timers as well.
3. Shop Around
Electronic devices and appliances are popular gifts. However, it is important to choose “Energy Star” models.
4. Shop Smart
It is wise to finish all your shopping during one mall stop so that you save gas on multiple visits.
5. Kitchen Efficiency
To save energy in the kitchen, it is wise to heat leftovers in the microwave and to take all ingredients out of the refrigerator at once.
6. Cut the Heat
The ideal temperature setting on your thermostat is 68 degrees. With a fire going, this can be lowered.
7. Burn Wood Efficiently
When filling your fireplace, it is wise to use man-made logs, which are natural and inexpensive. They are good for the environment and your wallet.
8. Fireplace Smarts
When you extinguish the fire, make sure to close the flue. This keeps heat from escaping.
9. Junk Mail
Junk mail kills 53 million trees a year. To help the environment, buy online and avoid mailing lists.
10. Change Your Dress
To remain warm indoors, you should wear layers so that you can keep the thermostat turned low. It is important to wear slippers as well.
By following the above tips, you will enjoy lower energy bills and help preserve the environment.
Tags: holidays, home owners, real estate, tips

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It’s always nice to witness first hands the healthy growth of our local real estate market. Certain pocket areas have increased considerably in list price, sales price and location desirability in a short period of time.

East Manhattan is one of those micro areas.

I was happy to see a glorious new listing while out on Broker’s Open today The sun was shining, and life seemed hopeful, serene and calm (if one wore blinders).

Fresh with that new car smell we all love, sat 1304 Lynngrove Drive. 5 beds and 6 baths are the backdrop of this bright, super natural, white light filled single family home on a 5398′ lot.

Creative finishes, glitteringly gorgeous light fixtures are icing on the spacious 3746′ home. The Nano doors open to a petite  yet generous outdoor space with fire pit.

The price tag is as high as the ceilings..so the $3 Million question is indeed that! Will it fetch $2,999,900?

In this market, who knows. It just might.



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Commuting and frequent traveling consumes a great deal of time. If your work has you constantly on the road, you are probably tired of skipping between cities. Thankfully, a solution may be on the horizon. An inventive man from Texas recently developed a prototype for a mobile apartment, or “Kasita.”
This “little home” is crafted from steel and measures approximately 20 feet wide. Since it is made for downtown and contains necessary appliances and a killer sound system, it sets itself apart from conventional mobile homes.
To make the tiny home feel larger, the walls are painted white, the ceilings are heightened, and reflective surfaces line the space. One of the most unique places is a fully-enclosed glass balcony, which is used for personal expression.
This mobile space is just the beginning of a bigger plan. One day, this Kasita will be multiplied and made into a global network. Key cities will house “racks” that stack six to nine individual units. Water, electricity, and other utilities will be included. It will be simple to plug in your home and move when necessary.
The best part of this arrangement is living affordably without the need for a roommate. Since today’s workforce requires flexibility, wandering homes are ideal. Certain builders argue these spaces are not practical. Despite the “tiny home” craze in areas like the Netherlands, certain contractors question the costs associated with mobile apartments. However, anyone who has frequently moved knows the conveniences this idea would bring. Someday soon, you may be able to take advantage of this technology and enjoy your own rack in a stack.

Mini break

Mini break


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As the drought continues in California, green lawns are giving way to more water-friendly xeriscapes. The well-known grass of front lawns and golf course fairways is being replaced with drought-resistant plants as well as other natural and manufactured ground coverings like crushed stone and shredded bark. In many cases, governments, water utilities and other agencies are funding the effort to lower the demand for water. A growing number of Californians are participating in the cash-for-grass initiative, which has been around for several years. The rebate can be as much as $4 per square foot.
When looking for a new home, buyers will see more yards featuring less thirsty succulents, cacti, potted plants, fire pits and hardscapes rather than the once ubiquitous swath of green grass. More Southern California homeowners are returning to a natural form of landscaping that is better suited for the state’s dry climate rather than have an unattractive, brown lawn. As a result, the aesthetics of a neighborhood and the perception of how a front yard should look are also evolving. The drought friendly plantings provide an economic benefit as water is becoming more expensive and there are fines for using too much of this resource. In many cases, the new landscaping requires less maintenance than a lawn. The appearance of the average home may also change as builders design houses to complement desert-inspired landscapes. Homeowners and potential buyers are growing accustomed to the new norm, which presents an excellent opportunity when buying or selling a home.
Tags: california, drought, home buyers, homeowners, Los AngelesFirst Home

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