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5 Signs That Fixer-Upper Might Be a Money Pit
By Peta-Gay
August 25, 2016

Deals are always appealing, especially in a hot market. So if you're looking to buy a house and you see the chance to nab a fixer-upper for a low price, you'll be tempted. Just be careful – sometimes that hidden treasure turns out to be a disaster. Here are five signs that the fixer-upper you're eyeing should be left on the market.

Bad Location

There are some things about a house that cannot be fixed, no matter how dedicated you are – like location. Check that the house isn't next to an unsafe natural formation. An unsteady hill signals shifting ground, which means an unsteady foundation for your house. Consider what you would if you were looking for a new house – proximity to schools or work; accessibility of public transit, green spaces, grocery stores; trees or a garden on the property. If there's nothing nearby, walk the other way.

Bad Layout

In any house, including fixer-uppers, the layout of the rooms is a primary indication of how (or if) the space will suit your needs. Pay attention to how the space is organized – like where the kids' bedrooms are in relation to the master bedroom. Keep in mind, though, that you can knock out non load-bearing walls and make more open-concept spaces – as long as you know which walls are which.

Bad Plumbing or Electrical Wiring

Simple: if the plumbing or electrical system needs an overhaul, leave that fixer-upper alone. The cost of fixing those problems will outweigh the benefit of anything you save on the house itself.

Badly Done Renovations or Repairs

If a house has had major renovations and is still listed as a fixer-upper, be warned. The renovations didn't take the first time, and will have to be redone. Similarly, be wary if the house shows signs of natural disaster damage (flooding, foundational damage), or if there have been rooms added. They could be illegal additions, not to code. Avoid these!

Bad Bones

This is the most important thing to watch for when fixer-upper-hunting, because these are the problems that will take time and money and energy, potentially turning your deal into an ordeal. The bones are the physical fundamentals of the house – the load-bearing walls, the foundation, the structural integrity of what's holding it all together. If there is anything questionable about the foundations or the drainage – look for slanting floors and water damage, for example – this isn't the fixer-upper for you.

We all like a good deal – but when looking for a house, be careful to consider what could turn a fixer-upper into a money pit. For referrals and advice, reach out to one of our trusted real estate agents.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

5 Tips to Make Moving With Kids Easier
By Peta-Gay
August 24, 2016

Sometimes a move is unavoidable, regardless of how much you or your kids' would rather stay in your current home. If your young ones are not looking forward to a change in scenery, here are a few tips to help them make a smoother transition into their new home:

1. Involve Them

Involving your children in the moving process will not only help them to better understand the move, it will also make them feel as though they are more in control of the situation.  By taking them to open houses they'll become familiar with the neighborhoods you're considering moving to, and will have the chance to see first-hand some of the benefits that a new home would offer over your current one. 

2. Say Goodbye

Moving can be an emotional time for children, and it's important to allow them to face and embrace their feelings.  Hosting a goodbye party will provide closure to an important chapter of their life, and creating a memory book will offer comfort on days when they miss your old home.  It is totally normal for there to be some sadness associated with a move, so do not feel guilty if your child is upset, but be there for them if they struggle with letting go.

3. New Beginnings

Although it's okay for your child feel sad about leaving your old home, it will help their transition if you give them something to be excited for, such as a new bedroom.  By allowing your child to help plan and pick out the layout, paint colors, or bedding for their room, you will give them something to look forward to.

4. No Benchwarmers

When it comes to packing and unpacking, don't let your kids sit on the sidelines as mom and dad do all the work.  By helping you pack and unpack, your children will feel secure knowing that their belongings are all on their way to your new home, and will feel more welcome knowing where items have been put when they're unpacked.

5. Make Friends

Being the new kid on the block can be lonely, which is why it's important to encourage your child to socialize within your new community.  Make an effort to meet the neighbors, enroll them in an extra-curricular activity, and schedule play dates with classmates if they have had to move to a new school.  It can be intimidating for a child to socialize when faced with a whole new environment, but a little extra encouragement can go a long way.

Considering moving your family into a new home?  Speak with a real estate professional who is experienced in family relocations today!

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

4 Tips For Negotiating a Better Rental Agreement
By Peta-Gay
August 23, 2016

Renting is hard. It's easy to get lost in the length and language of rental agreements, but it's important not to get discouraged when that happens. Rental agreements are fundamental documents that lay out the details of your tenancy, so when you're ready to negotiate their terms, give them the attention they deserve with the help of these tips.

Research the Property

Like prepping for a job interview, make sure you know about the property you're negotiating. Research the market so you know a reasonable price to ask for (and to expect). Read up on comparable properties in your neighborhood so you can use them as references during the rental discussion. There are resources that can help here, including online rent indexes that list comparable prices and vacancies for major cities.

Research the Landlord

As a tenant, you're in partnership with your landlord – so get to know them. Look at other properties they own to see those rental rates. You could even gently reach out to other tenants to see if they've negotiated their agreements, and how those negotiations went. The more prepared you are (to a reasonable degree – leave off the Facebook stalking), the more comfortable you will be while negotiating. And remember that negotiations are two-sided; so try when you can to consider what both parties will get from the deal. Be ready to compromise.

Read the Contract

It's worth repeating, even though it sounds obvious. But rental contracts need to be read, and read carefully, so that you know what rights you have as a renter, and what responsibilities are yours (versus your landlord's). Have a lawyer, or a law-minded friend, read over the contract if possible. And when negotiating changes to an already existing agreement, be sure you write them all down and both you and the landlord initial them, on each copy of the contract. This ensures the changes are legal and binding.

Rent Isn't The Only Negotiable

Rent isn't the only element of your tenancy that you can negotiate. If the landlord is unable or unwilling to lower the rent, even after you've done your research and asked for a reasonable decrease, you can address other aspects. Look at landscaping, or maintenance of the unit. Perhaps you can do a little yard-work to offset some of your other costs. Think creatively.

Approach your rental agreement negotiation with respect and preparation and you'll be well on your way to a better contract. If you have any questions or concerns, get in contact with one of our trusted real estate agents. We know your neighborhood and will be able to help you negotiate it.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

3 Smart Home Gadgets That Are Worth the Investment
By Peta-Gay
August 29, 2016

It's no secret that high-tech homes can provide a more effortless living experience while also being just really, really cool.

If you're looking to up-the-ante and introduce high-tech gadgets into your home, check out our top three smart-home suggestions:

Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Robotic vacuum cleaners are one of our favorite high-tech toys as they can alleviate a significant portion of the burden of your regular household chores.  They're even more beneficial considering the fact that they can also make your home much more comfortable to live in. 

Food crumbs, pet fur, and dust bunnies are no match for an iRobot Roomba, which will soon become your own personal home-cleaning minion.  Your house will feel cleaner and look more pristine, and you won't even have to lift a finger!

Bonus: these things have serious entertainment value.  Google "shark cat" if you don't believe us.

 Smart Thermostat

This high-tech addition is a fantastic way to boost comfort within your home while also controlling household expenses.  When you invest in a smart thermostat, a small sensor will be able to detect the temperature in each room of your home, adjusting the heat flow accordingly. 

With no more uneven heating throughout your house; the chilly den that you dread working in will now become a useable space!  On the flip side, your thermostat will no longer be blowing heat into rooms that have already hit your desired temperature.  Now that's what we call a 'smart' home upgrade.

Bonus: smart thermostats work for air conditioning as well, meaning that they can help ensure your stuffy guest room is as cool and comfortable as the rest of the house. 

Sleep IQ Bed

You've likely heard of sleep number beds, whose firmness is independently adjustable on each side of the mattress, but have you heard of their newest add on, the Sleep IQ? 

Sleep IQ beds monitor your sleep by tracking a number of factors such as your heart rate, breathing patterns, and movement throughout the night.  Based on these stats, the bed will recommend ways you can improve your overall sleep quality, and ultimately your overall health. 

Bonus: since you can adjust the firmness of each side of the bed independently, you and your partner will never have to compromise on your preferences again!

Looking for a more high-tech home?  Speak to a trusted real estate professional today to learn what exciting new options are available to you.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

4 Ways to Help Your Mortgage Transaction Close On Time
By Peta-Gay
August 26, 2016

When you’ve finally found the home you’re looking for at the right price, it’s easy to think that the hard part is over; however, there’s still a lot to do in order to ensure your purchase goes through without a hitch. If you’re tying up the loose ends on your home purchase, here are some things you should do to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Hire A Legal Professional

However much research you may have done in regards to buying a home, there’s still a lot of legal jargon in the closing documents that can be difficult for most people to understand. Instead of doing guesswork, you may want to use an attorney who will take the difficulty out of the documents for you so there will be no holdups with the paperwork.

Arrange A Home Inspection

A home inspection is a necessary step before the sale of a home, but this is an important one to get out of the way because it can seriously impact your home purchase. Because major problems can often be discovered during inspection, getting this out of the way and deciding if an item should be fixed or the total price knocked down will ensure there are no delays at the last minute.

Acquire Title Insurance

In order to make sure your property really belongs to you, it’s a good idea to have a title search completed to see if there are any claims to your future property that could invalidate your purchase. As this is a legal safeguard for your claim to your home, it will help you avoid unnecessary issues in the event of an unknown property claim.

Determine The Closing Costs

An escrow company is responsible for holding the funds until all aspects of a home sale are complete, but there are fees that go along with this service. Before you get to the end of the process, determine what exactly the company will be charging so that you can be prepared for the final total. While fees are legitimate, if you see a higher tally than expected, you may want to negotiate for a reduced cost.

Purchasing a home is a significant investment full of hurdles you might not be aware of, but by acquiring title insurance and having a legal professional look through your documents, you can make your home purchase go a little smoother. If you’re planning on purchasing a new home soon, you may want to contact you might want to contact one of our trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com