Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Making Your New House a Home

There are many things to think about getting done when you move into your new house. While some may be more obvious than others, here is an easy checklist of tips and what needs to be done as you plan. 

Set up the kitchen first

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Not only is it where everyone can sit and gather, it is where your important meals are had. Set up the kitchen as one of the first rooms even if you plan on eating out a lot while getting settled. 

Do a cleaning before unpacking

There is no better time to clean the home than before any of your belongings even enter it. If you cannot do a deep clean yourself, line up a professional to assist you. 

Furniture placement

You may have an idea of how you want to arrange things from when you toured the home, but if you are at a loss you can either set it up like your previous home or check the listing photos and follow how the seller had it. Nothing is set in stone and you can always rearrange it after living in it.

Gather paperwork

Things can get hectic after you leave the closing. You will have all of your documents along with others that you collect as you deal with movers etc. Keep a folder with everything together so that nothing gets lost and can be filed away when you move in.

Utilities and Address

You should have been able to transfer your utilities and change your address prior to moving but if not do it immediately. This is also a good time to make sure you line up any other services you may need such as lawn care, pool care, etc. 

Change locks and codes

Once you move in you should arrange to have the locks changed as you don’t know who may have copies from the previous owner. Change any other codes such as garages or any keypads too. 

Smoke detectors

Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for proper function. This can be a good time as well to replace all of the batteries and get on an annual maintenance cycle. 

Comfort kids and pets

A move can be exciting for kids but with some unsettling moments. Get your children involved in fun activities like picking paint colors and furniture placement in their rooms. Get their help with unpacking their belongings as well so they know where things are. Pets can be even more of a challenge as you cannot tell them what is happening. Avoid washing their toys and beds so they retain their smell. Place these items in the home prior to letting them in so they have the familiar scents. 

Locate important panels, shutoffs and extinguishers

You don’t want to fumble through the dark looking for the circuit panel in the dark or scramble to find the water shut off should there be a plumbing snafu. Get familiar with the location of all important controls for the home as soon as you move in.

Walk or bike around

Walking or biking the neighborhood is a great way to not only check out the nearby parks and businesses but can also help you meet the neighbors. Introduce yourself, family members and even pets. 

Celebrate and relax

Once you have taken care of all of the essentials then take a moment to enjoy your new home and relax. Perhaps it can be opening a bottle of champagne in your new kitchen or enjoying your favorite take out on the lovely new patio. It is now yours! 

 

How To Create The Best Outdoor Space

Regardless of how big or small your home may be, everyone these days is looking to create the best outdoor spaces even more so. With more time being spent at home the value of extending your home’s outdoor space is fast increasing as it opens up more options for entertaining. Many home designers will recommend that you treat your outdoor space just like another room in your home and decorate it accordingly.  Here are some tips as you outfit yours. 

Identify the function

Decide on what you have room for as well as what you want. If you have limited space will you furnish it with a dining table with chairs? Or if it is more of a lounging area will a couch and rocking chair be best? If you are fortunate enough to have space for more then design it with zones for different types of furniture. Be mindful of cramming too much into a smaller space. 

Consider the flow

When you furnish your outdoor space consider what you already have on the inside. If your style is more modern, stay consistent with that design when you choose your outdoor furniture. Also, a great way to continue the flow throughout your home is to select the same materials, colors and fabrics that you have inside. This can help ease the transition inside to outside and make it feel more like you are just going into another room.

Flooring

Take a look at what you have for flooring in your outdoor space now and where you plan on placing your furniture. If you need to create flooring then choosing a warmer material like pavers can provide a nicer look. If you have a simple concrete now then you could consider covering it with a stone material. In your zones you can add an outdoor rug that will really warm things up and make it cozy while it defines the space. There are some great options these days for outdoor rugs that hold up well through the elements. 

Overhead/shade

Especially in the summer months it can get very warm in the direct sunlight here in South Florida. Bear in mind that you may want to have some partial shade so that you can create a comfortable temperature while you enjoy the outdoors. This could be achieved by planting some taller hedges for natural daytime shade with the sun’s positioning or you could consider retractable umbrellas or awnings depending on your personal preference. 

 

Tips for Winning Offers

At any given time, even in a slower market there can be more than one offer on a property for sale. In today’s market despite the current economic situation the buyer demand is still outweighing the supply for many types of homes. So how can you make your offer stand out among the rest? Here are some great strategies to consider.

Appraisal gap coverage

You may find yourself in a bidding situation where you offer more than asking, but that can be an issue when it comes time for the home to be appraised. What if your offer is more than the home appraises for? You can offer appraisal gap coverage as a solution. Essentially you can offer to pay any overage of the appraisal value in cash.

Increase earnest deposit

Your earnest money deposit amount shows your intent and level of commitment to buying the home. There may be some outs should there be issues with inspection or the like, but the more money you put down the higher the risk. In a seller’s mind this shows that the deal may be more solid with a better chance of closing.

Tighten up inspection

You can do this a few ways. First, instead of a 10 day period for inspection, tighten this up to 3-5 days. Also, once you have your inspection you may want to accept the list of items that are found and deal with them on your end unless they are truly so substantial they make you no longer interested in purchasing the home. 

Pay your own closing costs

Buying a home requires a lot of money up front for your down payment but also your closing costs. For those with less money on hand or especially first time buyers it can be common to request that the seller cover a certain amount of the closing costs. It would be advisable to not do this if entering a competitive bid situation if you can avoid it as a seller will most likely choose a deal where they don’t have to pay.

Escalation clause

This can be a very powerful option for a winning dollar offer. Essentially you can craft an offer stating something like you will pay $1,000 more than any other offer up to a certain purchase price. This can give you a big advantage if any of the competing offers are within your capped amount. 

Accommodate seller timing

This can be done a few ways as well. First, if you can be flexible you can alert the seller you can close in the fastest possible time or that you can work with them on a more preferable closing time. Sometimes sellers need more time before moving to their next home. Finally, should they need to close but stay in the home a short time you could provide occupancy to them. In cases like these you can even collect rent or a fee for them to remain in the home as short term tenants.

 

Essential First Time Homebuying Tips

Buying your first property is replete with emotion. Excitement, thrill and perhaps a little anxiety and fear until you proceed through all of the steps. A home purchase is usually one of biggest investments that you will make so naturally you will want to make sure you are prepared and do it right. Here are some key things to consider. 

No Home is Perfect

Even if a home appears to be perfect, no home is. Just because the home was recently renovated doesn’t mean that there may not be some issues. Some things may not have been done properly or perhaps a system or appliance may not have been replaced with the home’s overhaul. The takeaway is that you always want to have a home inspection to be 100% clear on the home’s true condition.

Official Pre-approval

Many people go online to start googling for how much they can afford or look at online calculators for home payments that appear to be reasonable. However, the only way to truly know how much you can be “approved” to afford by a lender is to consult a professional mortgage agent. Give them your financial profile and they will run your credit and provide you with a number stated in a letter of how much you can afford.

Keep a Tight Schedule

One thing to note is that time is of the essence with all things real estate. From submitting your offer quickly on a home you like to getting your required steps on time as you progress through the home purchase process. Your typical closing is about 45-60 days when there is a mortgage involved. You will need to have things done in time such as a home inspection, home appraisal and loan application details completed.

Choose Professionals

From a lender to an agent you want to arm yourself with an experienced professional team. Before you simply call your friend’s uncle in another state because he is a mortgage broker, make sure whoever you decide to hire is experienced and professional. Someone who is responsive is imperative as it can make or break a deal. 

Patience

At any given time despite how hot the market is you can find yourself getting outbid on one or more properties. This is why it is important to act fast but also keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. While you may be heartbroken that you missed out on one home the one you eventually purchase may be twice as nice. 

11 Home Improvement Ideas For Smaller Homes

Regardless of the price of a home they can come in all shapes and sizes. Even a smaller home with less square footage could be a less expensive property in the suburbs or even a high end coastal condo with amazing waterfront views. Whatever the situation may be smaller homes can feel even smaller depending on how they are set up. Here are some really good tips for making your smaller home feel less cramped and more spacious. 

Paint colors

Choosing neutral colors is always best when selling, but even for making a smaller home look larger this can help too. Avoid your rich, darker colors as they can close in a space and make it feel dark and smaller than it actually is.

Art

Avoid doing the busy collages of artwork and stick to a few, large pieces. Modern and abstract design pieces are always best over anything too ornate or detailed. 

Millwork

Molding that is added to the ceiling is always a nice touch to elevate the room’s appearance, but it is also a good trick to bring the eye up creating an illusion of height. For smaller spaces, stick to a more simple molding.

Lighting

Lighting in any situation is key. Especially for those smaller spaces adding recessed lighting can really help illuminate the room without cluttering up the space. Follow up with some under cabinet task lighting as well to reflect even more light. 

Shower

Open up and show off the whole bathroom by using a clear glass door. Opaque glass doors or shower curtains will always make the smaller bathroom feel even smaller. Clear glass will allow the eye to see the entire space making it feel larger.

Curtains

Wall treatments can be a fun trick. Hang them higher to create an illusion of more space. Hang them higher than your windows and extend the rod beyond the window width as well. Vertical striped fabrics will only help further give a feeling of height to the room.

Flooring

The lighter the better. If you are replacing flooring then you can accomplish this when you select your new materials. Alternatively selecting light colored area rugs can also help do the trick too.

Outdoor space

Never underestimate your outdoor spaces as they are an extension of your living space for a good portion of the year. Invest in either a nice dining set or lounging chairs to create a gathering area. There are some great outdoor rug options these days as well that can finish off the area making it feel even more cozy and welcoming.

Creative, small spaces 

Smaller homes sometimes have little nooks or spaces that can be creatively used for storage. It may be a space under the stairs that could be used as storage shelves or perhaps you have a space in the kitchen that could benefit from overhead storage like a pot rack. Oftentimes there is more space than you think when you get creative.

Mirrors

This is an age old trick. The use of mirrors will always create an illusion of more space. Just be mindful of your usage. Walls of floor to ceiling mirrors can sometimes look outdated or less polished.

Remove a wall

This is certainly not a DIY project, but taking down a wall that may separate a kitchen from a living room will most definitely open up your floor plan making it feel larger. Consult with a professional to see if the wall is load bearing to see if it is possible to remove. 

 

The Steps of Buying a Home With a Timeline

Most buyers have a general idea of the home buying process but many want to know what exactly is the timeline of the steps. While every deal is different, the average timeline is fairly straightforward in what needs to be done and how long it takes. Here is a closer look at what is involved.

Locate an agent (1-5 days)

You’ve already done that by working with me!

Pre-Approval (1-3 days)

This is a fairly easy process that can even be done in just 24 hours. Contact a reputable lender and provide them with all of your financial information. They will also pull a credit report for you so that they have the whole picture to let you know the amount you can afford. If you need help finding a mortgage lender I’m happy to give you a list of reputable, easy to work with lenders to speak with.

Home search

While this is the next step in the process, timing for your home search can vary. This will depend on things like the market that you are searching in as well as how strict your criteria are. 

Submit offer/negotiate and sign contract (2-10 days)

Once you locate a home you like then you need to decide what to offer. That includes an offer price, closing date as well as any contingencies. It will depend on the situation of the seller on how long this process will take. If you submit a strong offer then the seller may respond quickly to arrive at agreed upon terms.

Home inspection (3-10 days)

Once your offer is accepted then it is time to schedule an inspection. You can typically do this within a week and then receive the report in hand approximately a day or so after it has been completed. The actual inspection takes roughly 2 or 3 hours depending on the size of the home.

Negotiate repairs (2-5 days)

Once you have completed the inspection there may be some items that are discovered that may need attention. If these are significant then you may want to negotiate with the sellers either to have them complete them or to revisit the purchase price.

Finalize loan (Ongoing until closing)

While you provided some basic background information for your pre-approval, once the offer is accepted then things move forward where the bank will need to dive in deeper to verify all of your information. This is where you need to provide tax statements, pay stubs, bank account info, etc. The bank will process all of this along with collecting things like the appraisal to ensure that everything is set right up until the closing. 

Appraisal (3-10 days)

The appraisal is something that you will pay for, but the bank will order. Banks will need to verify that the amount being paid for the home is not more than it is worth. It can take a couple of days to get an appointment as well as a couple of days after to receive the report. The actual appraisal appointment takes usually about an hour or two depending on the property size.

Homeowner’s insurance (2-3 days)

Shortly after your offer is accepted you will want to shop around for insurance quotes. Getting an insurance binder is required by the lender so while you can take time to shop around, you will need this locked down before your closing.

Prepare closing funds (36 hours before closing)

Three days before closing your lender will give you the final copy of the closing disclosure documents so that you will know exactly what you need to pay at the time of closing. Make sure you have funds readily available as well as any wiring instructions that you may need.

Walkthrough (24 hours before closing) 

The final walkthrough is always best to schedule as close to the closing as possible. Do this after the sellers have moved out and any repairs that have been requested have been made. Double check that all is in good condition within the home.

Closing (1 hour)

The final step is the closing where all signatures are made and the exchange of monies is done. Although there are many signatures to be made, this process is usually about an hour in duration. Once all is complete and the keys are handed over then you are officially the homeowner!