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Jennifer Wheeler

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Cell: 239-292-9864
Office: 239-292-9864
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RISMedia's Content Solutions Websitefeed Feed en-us Avoid These Common Renovation Mistakes Fri, 18 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500

Embarking on a home improvement project is both exciting and stressful.
Dont let one of these common mistakes spoil the fun

Dont rush! Large scale projects take months. Plan accordingly and build in several weeks for curve balls.

Miscommunication. Tensions can run high, so find out the best way to stay in touch with your contractor – email, text, weekly meetings.
Your contractor can then mitigate issues between you and your partner.

Controlling design. Theres a big difference between what you like and what makes the best sense for your home.
Let a designer help decide what works for design and functionality.

Forgetting to budget. Go into the project with a number, then add in another 10 – 20 percent.

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4 Ways to Win in a Seller's Market Sat, 19 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Buying a home in a sellers market can be difficult, but it doesnt have to be impossible.

A sellers market occurs when there is a low inventory of homes for sale and a large number of buyers creating high demand. It can lead to competitive bidding and high prices.

A real estate agent can help you determine if youre in a sellers market so you can adapt your home-buying strategy. A market absorption rate calculator can help by calculating how many months it would take to sell all the remaining homes, or inventory, for sale in a given area. A low number means youre in a sellers market.

Here are four ways to be a successful buyer in a sellers market:

Be Ready to Bid High
Whatever your budget is, be prepared to go in with an offer for the listing price. It can prevent other bidders from coming in and can help you avoid competing with multiple buyers.

If that tactic doesnt work, be prepared to increase your offer to your best offer, but not your final offer. Add an escalation clause of 2-3 percent more than the highest bid, but only if youre able to pay the most for the property.

Another tactic is to work a bidding war into your budget by only looking at houses listed for up to 90 percent of your maximum budget. This will give you extra money if a bidding war starts.

Dont Counter
There are no counter offers in a sellers market.

Put your best offer on the table early. Sellers could see a dozen offers at once, and theyre unlikely to counter with buyers if they have a lot of high offers to choose from.

Show Them the Money
Show a seller how serious you are by offering more cash than normal in earnest money " a deposit made to the seller to show a buyers good faith in a transaction. If a high earnest money deposit in your area is $20,000, then increase it by $10,000.

Offer Non-Price Factors
Some sellers will accept your price if you provide some non-price considerations that can speed up the transaction, also called contingencies.

These include waiving the financing contingency, limiting the home inspection to three to five days or eliminating the home inspection completely, giving sellers extra time to move out.

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Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays at Home Sun, 20 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 When it comes to protecting our eyes against harsh, damaging UV rays, most of us think about popping on sunglasses for long days at the beach; however, it’s possible to incur UV damage right at home, especially if you have an abundance of wide, bright windows. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), nearly half of all eye injuries occur at home.

Untreated windows protect the eyes from only about 25 percent of damaging UV rays. As the AAO states, continued exposure to UV light raises the risks of many issues for the eyes, from cataracts to cancer.

To battle this, the International Window Film Association (IWFA) suggests consumers consider the real estate trend of professionally installing window film to all windows in their homes. Window film will help protect your family’s eyes from the damage caused by UV rays.

Professionally installed window film can block up to 99 percent of UV rays from entering the home, protecting eyes from damage over time, while at the same time reducing glare and eliminating the need to squint when enjoying the view outside.

While extremely thin and virtually invisible to the eye, window film provides powerful protection without altering the look of a home. Though it can be tinted in several shades, homeowners can also opt for clear film, which does not alter the view in any way.


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Hidden Backyard Deal Breakers That Are Lurking on Your Property Mon, 21 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Every time a prospective homebuyer walks onto your property, there are a few things that they will absolutely not put up with. These deal breakers can be anywhere in the home, but there is one area that we often forget about: the backyard.

The backyard is very important to family life. After all, this is the place where children will enjoy their childhood and play in a safe and secured environment. Most homebuyers prefer single-family dwellings solely because of the usable outdoor space! Take some time to focus on your backyard. After all, there are ways that you can update your backyard without spending money.

Pool in the Backyard
To many buyers, a pool can be seen as an expensive maintenance fee that they will have to pay for on top of the mortgage. Once they see a pool, they’re going to start doing some calculations in their head thinking, “Now how much is this going to cost me?” Whether it’s above or below ground, a pool can raise a flood of concerns over child safety.

Size of the Plot
The appraisal of your home is typically made in two elements, the plot size and the actual value of the physical home. That said, the size of your yard comes into play so you want to make sure that you spend a generous amount of time prepping your backyard for visitors. Getting rid of clutter and opening up the yard to make your lot feel larger will help you when it comes time to sell.

Pet Products
Hide dishes, play toys, and photos of your pets as this may make the buyer feel like the home is dirty, especially for a homeowner that doesn’t like the idea of having pets inside the house. This will be a deal breaker if the buyer is allergic to cats and/or dogs.

With the price of water rising rapidly and droughts in California, grass isn’t as appealing as it once was. When frugal buyers see grass, they see a sky-high water bill that will eventually lead to a dead yard and a new project to be undertaken. Think about landscaping trends like xeric landscaping, native plants, and artificial turf to make your home more appealing to all home buyers.

Leaving Backyard Photos Out of your Listing
This is a rookie mistake. If you leave out photos of your backyard, homebuyers will think that you have something to hide. If you have a gorgeous yard, why wouldn’t you want to showcase it in your listing? Are you hiding any skeletons in the closet?

Noisy Neighbors
Now this may be seen as something outside of your realm, but it may be worth a knock on the door to let your neighbors know that you will be showing your house at a given time. Rowdy neighbors can be an instant turn off to potential buyers. Make sure your neighbors’ parties are held on a different day than your open house to give buyers a better peace of mind. After all, they will share a fence with these neighbors for an indefinite period of time.

So What Are Homebuyers Looking For?
A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders found that new homebuyers are looking for exterior lighting, lots of trees, a deck or patio, and a fenced in yard. Beyond the basics, an outdoor amenity that is rapidly gaining in popularity is the outdoor fireplace/fire pit, outdoor kitchens, and the outdoor living room.

Investing in the backyard can net you some of the highest returns. Knowing what real estate appraisers (and homebuyers) are looking for will help you sell your property faster. That said, the exterior of your home is just as important as the interior of your home. Many people assume that the front and backyard aren’t crucial to the buying process so they overlook these pitfalls. Make sure that your backyard does not have any hidden deal breakers that could steer away new bids!

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How to Make Sure Your Food Is Safe to Eat Tue, 22 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500

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6 Major Mortgage Mistakes Wed, 23 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Whether you’re scoping out a vacation property or looking into becoming a homeowner for the first time, applying for a mortgage is a lengthy and complicated process. While your real estate agent and lender will be there to walk you through the details, knowing what possible errors could lay in waiting will help you make the best decision. Let’s review some of the most common mortgage mistakes so you can avoid making them.

1. Weak credit history
Loans are all about credit history " it’s hard to land a mortgage without one. But having a credit history doesnt mean you have a lot of credit; it simply means you have been given credit in some form and have a documented history of repaying it. How much credit? Lenders often like to see at least three lines of credit with a minimum two-year history on each.

And of course, you don’t just need a credit history; you need a good one. Pay down credit cards and loans regularly to heighten your score.

Pro tip: Paid off that credit card? Don’t cancel the account. Keeping the account active, even if it’s unused, helps build a strong credit history.

2. Weak work history
You’re less likely to get a loan if you can’t prove you’re able to hold down a job. And even if you do get approved with a weak work history, you may not be able to qualify for a good interest rate. What is a strong work history? Aim for at least two current, consecutive years of employment in the same occupation.

Of course, certain circumstances may provide an exception to this rule. If you are a recent graduate with proof of future income, or someone who is coming back out of retirement, some lenders may not hold a lack of recent employment history against you.

3. Opening new credit accounts
Maybe you got a big raise and are applying for a mortgage and leasing a brand new car all in the same month " bad idea. If you’re thinking of applying for a loan, avoid opening brand spanking new credit lines. Lenders like to see solid, stable credit histories, and a brand new line of credit can’t offer that. Unfortunately, some people make this mistake thinking that it will help their credit score, when in truth it can hinder it.

4. Making big purchases
Slow down there, big spender. Just like lenders want to see stable credit history and employment, they want to see stable spending. If you make large charges to your existing credit accounts around the time youre shopping for a mortgage, you can increase your debt-to-income ratio. So hold off on that new furniture set or big screen TV until after you’ve purchased your home.

5. Not reviewing your credit report
When is the last time you checked your credit? Often, credit reports have errors, and you want to right these before it’s time to apply for your mortgage.

6. Not knowing what you can afford
These days, it’s very easy to figure out how much home you can afford. Simply find a mortgage calculator online, take a look at how much you can pay each month, and plug in the numbers. This will give you a solid idea of how much house you can afford, which can help you avoid disappointment down the road. It’s also important to get pre-approved for a loan before you begin your home search. There have been many instances where a home sale falls through because the buyers made an offer that they couldnt back up with a mortgage. By showing that pre-approval letter, the buyers are showing the sellers they can afford to make good on their offer, and may also be in a better position to negotiate. And these days, many real estate professionals won’t work with a buyer who isn’t pre-approved.

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Decorating 101: How to Hang Pictures Thu, 24 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500

First, establish eye level, which in most houses is 57 to 60 inches from the floor.

The center of the picture should be at this point.

Second, consider your space. Is your artwork landscape or portrait?

Coordinate that with the space, or hang portraits side by side and landscapes one on top of the other.

Third, keep it neat.

If you’re creating a gallery wall, align them on a grid.

You can also begin with one in the center, and arrange outward.

Above all, look for symmetry. It’s important that everything is even throughout your home.

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5 Tips for That Garage Clean-Out Fri, 25 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 For many of us, cleaning out our garage is no simple afternoon task. Most garages hold years of accumulated and forgotten items, and clearing them out is a serious job. Below are five tips to help you make the most of the big clean-out.

Pick a date. To avoid procrastination, choose a hard date on your calendar for your clean-out. Depending on the size of your garage, a full weekend may be in order. Tell your family members about the date to make sure they will be around to pitch in.

Gather your resources. Stock up on large trash bags, visit your local grocer’s for discarded cardboard boxes and"if you have enough lurking in your garage"consider calling your county’s waste management service to see if you can order a dumpster.

Ask for help. Do you need to borrow a friend’s pickup truck to lug your unwanted items to the dump? How about a power washer to clean the floor once it’s clutter-free? Line these things up in advance for easy cleaning.

Pile it right. At the start of your clean-out, create three piles: to keep, to sell, and to donate. As you come across items in your garage, add them to their respective area and keep moving. Once something has landed in a pile, try to resist the temptation to move it.

Organize, organize, organize. Set yourself up to re-organize your space once it’s squeaky clean. Do you need more shelving units? Hooks and bins? Gather these items in advance.

I hope you found this helpful. Contact me for more home and real estate insights and info.

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Loan Options for First-Time Homebuyers Sat, 26 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Affordability is a big issue for renters looking toward homeownership. Beyond the purchase price, putting together a 20 percent down payment is a big roadblock for many people.

It doesnt have to be, however. While 80 percent of millennial renters say they cant afford to buy a house, according to an Apartment List survey, there are various options that they may not be aware of.

Youve probably heard of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and of Fannie Mae, a government agency that backs mortgages, but there are other programs to help buyer into their first home.

FHA / VA / Fannie
FHA loans are insured to give lenders a layer of protection if you default on the mortgage. They typically have competitive interest rates, smaller down payments and lower closing costs than conventional loans. A low credit score can still warrant only a 3.5 percent down payment.

The VA guarantees home loans that help active military members, veterans and surviving spouses. VA loans dont require a down payment or minimum credit score.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored entities that back home loans for low- and moderate-income families. Down payments can be as low as 3 percent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, focuses on homes in rural areas and guarantees the home loan. Borrowers dont have to buy or run a farm.

A credit score of 640 or higher typically gets an applicant streamlined processing. A lower score is allowed but may require extra documentation about payment history.

Good Neighbor Next Door
This program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development helps law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and K-12 grade teachers buy homes.

A 50 percent discount off a homes listed price is available through the program in areas labeled “revitalization areas.” Buyers must commit to living in the home for at least 36 months.

FHA Section 203(k)
If a fixer-upper fits more easily into your budget, a Section 203(k) rehabilitation program loan thats backed by FHA can help. It considers the value of the home after youve made improvements, and lets you borrow the money for these fixes, rolling it into your mortgage. The down payment can be as low as 3 percent.

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Tips to Remove Stubborn Home Odors Sun, 27 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Odors are a huge turnoff for potential homebuyers and can be difficult to remove. The truth is that most homes have some sort of smell to them. Most often, the people who live there dont even notice.

This is especially true of pet odors. Owners become accustomed to their pets smell, such as from litter boxes for cats or from shedding. Visitors, however, are going to notice these odors, especially if the home is not properly cleaned.

Pet owners should use a carpet deodorizer when vacuuming"one that is designed to remove animal smells. Check your furniture for odors as well. If you smell your pet, wash the cushion covers or use a deodorizing product if they arent machine washable. If the pet smell is very prominent, consider having the carpets and furniture professionally cleaned. Cat owners should clean out the litter box daily and should wash it with water and liquid soap regularly.

Non-pet owners arent off the hook odor-wise. Many things can make a home smell, but there are four easy steps to take to cut down on strong odors.

  1. Think about what you cook. Even with an exhaust fan, things like fish and bacon can produce odors that linger. Baking cookies before showings or open houses is a classic trick to give a house a pleasant smell.
  1. Light a candle. Scented candles can add a pleasing smell to the home and set a relaxing mood. Pick candles with more neutral smells or think seasonal (pumpkin in the fall, pine during the holidays, etc.).
  1. Take out the trash. Empty all trash containers around the house before showings or open houses. Focus on the kitchen as its likely to contain food scraps. Also consider washing the trash container if you havent in a while. Empty trash baskets are more visually appealing anyway.
  1. Maintain a clean fridge. Cleaning a refrigerator is a must when selling a house. Empty it out regularly so that food odors dont build up. Dont forget to add a box of baking soda to absorb odors.

And if the weather permits, open up the windows. Even if its just for a short amount of time, its the simplest way to clear out odors!

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A Background on Credit Scoring Models Mon, 28 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Homebuyers who have a better credit history over a longer stretch of time than a shorter one may benefit by a change to the credit-scoring model used by Experian.

Up until about 2016, mortgage lenders didnt use trended credit data and didnt differentiate between types of credit usage.

What is trended credit data?” It’s the information that credit bureaus gather on how consumers manage their credit card balances, and it goes beyond paying your credit card bills on time each month.

The updated model"Trended 3D"uses trended credit data to provide information on borrowers balances and credit lines over the past 24 months. Thats a longer view of consumers’ behavior than traditional credit reports provide.

Lenders prefer transactors who pay off their credit card balances every month over revolvers who carry balances from month to month. The change is that Trended 3D makes a distinction between those types of borrowers, giving transactors a credit-scoring advantage.

Mortgage lenders prefer borrowers who pay off their credit cards each month. If not, they like to at least see borrowers carry shrinking balances because theyre paying more than the minimum payment each month. What they dont want to see is someone making the minimum payment on their credit cards and to have credit balances growing.

The number of borrowers who are eligible for the lowest mortgage rates could increase through the use of trended credit data if theyve paid off their credit card balances each month for most of the past two years.

Fannie Mae started using Trended 3D in 2016 with its automated underwriting software. The government-backed home loans are used by more than 1,800 lenders. The extra data is supposed to give some borrowers more access to credit than they would have under the old scoring models.

Fannie Mae only uses trended credit data for conventional loans. It doesnt use that information when making approval recommendations for FHA-insured or VA-backed mortgages.

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5 Ideas for Remodeling Your Basement Tue, 29 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500

Looking to update your basement? Here are a few ideas…

Home Theater

Basements are the perfect place to design the home theater of your dreams.

Fitness Area

A fitness area in your basement is rather simple, with the most important features being mirrored walls and a durable floor.

Relaxing Spa

A place to unwind at the end of the day, a home spa is a luxury youre sure to appreciate.

Wine Cellar

The ability to store bottles collected from around the world under ideal conditions will set your house apart.

Home Office

The basement might be the best place to put a designated workspace away from the rest of the house.

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Tips and Tricks Every Homeowner Should Know Wed, 30 Nov 2022 01:00:00 -0500 Becoming a homeowner doesn’t equip you with the basics of household know-how, although time and experience will likely teach you how to tighten up a leaky faucet. But technicians say that up to 30 percent of their service calls require nothing more than the flip of a switch or the push of a button to ‘repair’ the stated problem.

To save you from such an embarrassing experience"not to mention the cost of a service call"Readers Digest offers tips to help every homeowner recognize and ‘fix’ common issues:

  • The fridge is warm. Check to see that nobody messed with the temperature dial. Turn it up if need be, and be sure no food containers are blocking the fridge and freezer compartment vents, which supply the flow ofcold air.
  • The bathroom lights don’t work. Sometimes all the bathroom outlets or several exterior lights are powered through a single GFCI (the red button in the middle of some outlets located in one bathroom). If there’s an outage, push the reset button on the GFCI, and you could be back in business.
  • A kitchen appliance won’t turn on. When a light goes out in one room or a switch doesn’t turn on the coffeepot, check the main electrical panel for a tripped circuit breaker. Look for a switch that’s not in line with the others. Flip it fully to the off position, and then back on.
  • The toilet is running. The most common cause is a worn flapper that no longer seals properly. The flapper is easy to replace without calling a plumber. Your nearest home store can sell you the part and tell you what you need to know.
  • The paint needs a touchup. Mimic the texture a paint roller leaves on the wall without calling the painter. Dip an old washcloth in the paint, dab it on the spot, and toss it away.
  • The garage is stuffed. Before you call a carpenter to add more shelving, mount a section of wire shelving to the undersides of the beams to give you a row of neat storage nooks. Unlike solid shelving, wire lets you see what’s up there. Then pick up a pack of S-hooks at a home center, and turn a length of wire shelving intoa rack for holding garden and/or cleaning gear.

Interested in more home improvement tips? Feel free to contact me directly.

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Having Trouble Selling Your Home? These 5 Reasons Could Be Why Thu, 01 Dec 2022 01:00:00 -0500

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