Tracy Tidwell Real Estate Commercial

Thursday, July 6, 2017

8 Week Moving Checklist

Map out everything you need to do, week by week, until the big day. 
When it comes to moving, proper organization is the defining difference between ultimate success and complete failure.
Even if you’re already an excellent organizer, you might still feel overwhelmed by the number of relocation-related tasks you have to complete before moving day — unless you find a way to bring order to the chaos.
Here’s a moving timeline that will do the trick. It will help you organize your time, prioritize your tasks, track your progress, and reduce moving stress. What’s more, you’ll never forget anything important, because your week-by-week moving checklist will remind you of what to do every single day until moving day.

Eight weeks before moving day

Organizing a safe, efficient, and trouble-free relocation requires about two months of careful planning and hard work. So, start your moving preparations about eight weeks before the big day:
  • Start looking for an appropriate new home in your future area (you may have to start sooner if you’re moving to a particularly hot real estate market).
  • Inventory your possessions and decide what you’re going to take to your new home.
  • Research your moving options and decide if you’re going to move on your own or use professional moving services.

Six weeks before moving day

  • Contact a few trustworthy movers and request an in-house estimation of your relocation costs. If you’ve decided on a DIY move, contact several truck rental companies and compare their rates and conditions.
  • Review your finances and designate your moving budget.
  • Notify all the relevant people and institutions of your move: your landlord (if you’re a renter), employer, family physician, children’s school (if applicable), and bank, for starters.
  • Start looking for a trustworthy health provider and a good school for your kids in your new city.
  • Schedule your move and book your chosen moving company (or book a rental truck of appropriate size for the day of your move).

Four weeks before moving day

  • Obtain your and your family’s medical records and your children’s school records.
  • Take your pet to the vet for a complete checkup and get all the necessary papers: vaccination records, health certificates, etc.
  • Get rid of unwanted items. Organize a moving sale, sell items online, donate them to charity, or give them away to relatives and friends.
  • Obtain packing supplies and start packing the items you won’t need before moving day. Make sure you don’t pack any nonallowable items.
  • Cancel subscriptions to delivery services and memberships to clubs and organizations.

Two weeks before moving day

  • If you’re driving to your new home, have your car serviced to make sure your road trip will go as smoothly as possible. If you’re flying to your new city, book your ticket and find a trustworthy auto transporter to ship your car.
  • Change your address with the United States Postal Service.
  • Transfer utilities — arrange for services in your old home to be disconnected the day after your move. Contact service providers in your new city to have utilities running in your new home on move-in day.
  • Reserve a parking place for the moving truck (directly in front of the entrance to your home) and an elevator for the time of your move (if applicable).

One week before moving day

  • Contact your moving company and confirm that everything is going according to plan.
  • Say your goodbyes — organize a farewell party, spend some quality time with your closest friends, visit your favorite places in town, etc.
  • Check on your packing progress. Most of your belongings should be packed up and labeled by this point.
  • Prepare an “open first” box that contains all the essentials you’re going to need as soon as you arrive in your new home.
  • Hire a sitter to look after your children and/or pets on moving day (if necessary).
  • Check if you’ve paid all the bills, picked up your clothes from the dry cleaners, returned library books and borrowed items, etc.

Two days before moving day

  • Finish packing — leave out only a few items you can’t do without during the last couple of days in your old home, and the cleaning supplies you’re going to need to clean the place before leaving it for the last time.
  • Defrost and clean your fridge and get all your household appliances ready to move — empty them, clean them, and make sure they’re fully dry and safely wrapped for transportation.
  • Disassemble large furniture pieces and pack them for shipment.
  • Make sure you have all valuables and important documents with you.

Moving day

  • Have a good night’s rest and get up early in the morning to have enough time for last-minute moving tasks.
  • Double-check your home for forgotten items.
  • Meet your hired movers and provide them with all the information they need to perform a quick and efficient move.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the hectic moving procedures.
  • Carefully read all the paperwork you need to sign.
  • Prepare some refreshments for your movers and have some cash ready to tip them if you’re satisfied with their work.
  • Give the truck driver your exact new address and your phone number.
  • Clean your old home, lock it safely, and bid it farewell. The time has come to set foot on the road to your new life!
Even though most moving tasks are common for all residential moves, you can modify them to meet your personal needs and requirements. Certain aspects of your move will be unique and will require a different approach, so personalize this moving timeline checklist and make it work perfectly for you.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Home Buying Myths


Home buyers get a lot of advice from friends and family – some good, some bad. A lot of myths can pop up and negatively guide their home purchasing experience. Make sure your clients don’t fall for one of these common buying falsehoods.
1. The only upfront cost is the down payment.
Buyers need to be prepared for several expenses – everything from fees, taxes, costs for inspections, credit reports, insurance, and others. Closing costs can be anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent of the purchase price. Those costs can fluctuate greatly depending on the state you live in too.

2. Just looking for a house casually is not a big deal.
Some people may want to just start looking at homes to get a feel for the area, before they even sit down with a REALTOR®. But they could be setting themselves up for major heartbreak. “A buyer might be viewing homes that are in a higher or lower price range than what they are qualified for,” Connie Antoniou, a broker associate in Barrington, Ill., told®. Home shoppers – even at the earliest stages – should get pre-approved for a mortgage so they know their budget from the get-go and don’t waste time looking at homes that are out of their price range.
3. You must have a 20 percent down payment.
A 20 percent down payment will help a buyer avoid paying private mortgage insurance. But 20 percent down isn’t required. Many lenders will still qualify a buyer for home loans with 10 percent or 5 percent down. Some buyers can even qualify for only 3.5 percent down with a Federal Housing Administration loan. There are many options for down payment assistance that lenders can explore with a buyer who has a limited amount to put down.
4. Schools shouldn’t matter if you don’t have kids.
“The neighborhood you choose matters – both now and later when you might consider selling,” notes the® article. “Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a sign of a good neighborhood.” Buyers should explore all factors with their REALTOR® on items that could influence their homes appreciation and desirability so they don’t run into trouble later on one day when they try to sell.
5. You don’t need a home inspection.
When the housing market is extremely competitive, some home shoppers may be willing to waive the home inspection in order to get the home they want. “But beware: sellers are banking on your skipping this crucial step,” the® article notes. “It means you’ll get the home as is, including any and all problems that come with it. And sometimes those problems aren’t exactly visible.”
Source: “9 Home-Buying Myths You Need to Stop Believing Immediately,”® (Sept. 6, 2016)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

10 Essential Supplies for DIY Movers

Sure you’ll need boxes, but add in these other must-haves and you’ll be moving like a pro.

Moving can be a stressful time, especially if you’re taking the DIY route. Aside from the day-of essentials — coffee and donuts for you and your crew — you’ll want to gather these 10 must-have supplies ahead of time to make packing (and unpacking!) as smooth as possible. Most of these items can be ordered online or picked up at a local storage company, rental company or hardware store.

1. Boxes: Heavy-duty, wardrobe & specialty

When you’re doing all the heavy lifting yourself, it can be tempting to scrimp on boxes and ask for used ones from local stores. This is a time-consuming process, and you’re likely to get odd-shaped boxes or produce boxes without lids. While some hand-me-down boxes are fine, you’ll also want to invest in new heavy-duty boxes built for moving. Don’t forget to pick up specialty boxes for mirrors and artwork, and wardrobe boxes with hanging racks to make putting your closet back in order a snap.

2. Packing tape

Next, you’ll need packing tape, and lots of it. Packing tape can be expensive, but price indicates quality. Cheap tape is often flimsy and sticks to itself, requiring you to use more of it. Heavy-duty tape is a one-strip operation on the bottom and top of the box. Buy in bulk to get the best deal and avoid last-minute tape runs for expensive single rolls.

3. Moving blankets

These can be standard blue moving blankets or just ones that are on their way out anyway and that you won’t mind getting a few grease strains or tears. These are mostly to protect furniture from jostling and so you can stack boxes or more furniture on top. If you’re packing a car or pickup truck, blankets are also useful for lining the trunk or bed so you don’t leave stains or scratches. Moving blankets also can be taped around bannisters to avoid damaging them on moving day. The more blankets you have on hand the better, so ask friends or family if you need more, or hit up a thrift store.

4. Stretch plastic wrap

A roll of mover’s stretch plastic wrap that seals to itself can be a miracle-worker on moving day. Use it to bundle boxes together, keep plastic bins closed, hold rugs rolled, keep cabinet doors in place and so much more. The plastic wrap sticks only to itself and leaves no residue, so it’s a mover’s best friend.

5. Bubble wrap

Of course, bubble wrap is a must-have for any move and is particularly useful for keeping delicate plates and bowls secure inside boxes. Use small bubbles for more delicate items and larger bubbles for larger items. With bubble wrap and the next two items on this list, all of your fragile items will be well-protected.

6. Packing paper

Packing paper is a different animal than standard tissue paper or even brown paper used for mailing. This is a thin, flexible paper that is unbeatable for filling in boxes to keep items from shifting. You can use it much like bubble wrap for less-fragile items. The rule of thumb for moving is that nothing should move inside a box, so stuff packing paper to your heart’s content — or at least until nothing is rattling around anymore.

7. Paper towels

Paper towels are another essential tool to keep within arm’s reach during your move. Not only are they useful for spills and cleanup, but they also can be a packing tool. Stuffing paper towels inside fragile vases or mugs will help keep them protected. Place a paper towel between dishes when stacking to prevent scuffs and dings. The best part: You can collect all of the paper towels when you get to your new place and use them for cleaning.

8. Carpet protection

Most DIY movers won’t think of this one, but mover’s carpet protection film is a good investment. This is a different film than the stretch moving wrap and it won’t shift or drag on carpet or stairs. With the constant going in and out, carpet is sure to take a beating. If you add in a muddy, wet or snowy moving day, carpet protection is essential.

9. Easy moving sliders and/or a dolly

When you’re moving by yourself, those little disks that you place under furniture to move it across the floor without lifting can be a major back-saver. There are specific sliders for carpet and hard surfaces, so one set of each should make moving much easier. If you can borrow a dolly, this is an unbeatable combination. You’ll be able to make fewer trips and save yourself a lot of struggle.

10. Utility knives

A few high-quality utility knives within arms’ reach are a necessity. Brightly colored knives will be easy to find amidst the (hopefully organized) chaos.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Down Payment Myths

Having the spare capital to put 20 percent down on a home purchase is great, but it's certainly not the norm. Still, many people think it is and that belief may be holding some would-be home buyers back, particularly young adults.
Indeed, 39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report
But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that's just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR's survey.
As such, “aspiring first-time buyers think it takes twice as much to buy a home than it really does,” writes Jonathan Smoke,®’s chief economist, in his latest column.
How much a person truly needs for a down payment depends on their situation. Their financial circumstances, home location, and the price of the home are important factors.
But there are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.
Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. The average FICO score was 713, but® notes borrowers with a 639 were still getting approved.
As such, Smoke says the millennial dreaming about homeownership needs to get this message: They need a FICO score of at least 639 and enough for a 5 percent down payment (that is, if they don’t qualify for the other programs with lower payment options). In that case, they'll need to save about $3,500 to buy in the typical American town.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What Really Makes a Property Appreciate


A home’s value generally appreciates 3 percent to 4 percent every year, which is attributed mostly to population growth and inflation. However in 2016, homeowners saw appreciation jump to an average of 6.3 percent.®’s research team sought to find out what would boost a home’s value even more and what home features buyers may be willing to pay more for. Researchers analyzed millions of listings on® from 2011 to 2016 to calculate the annual price growth rate of homes with certain features.
Here are some of the clear winners in housing appreciation: 
Small homes: Homes smaller than 1,200 square feet appreciated by an average rate of 7.5 percent a year for the past five years. On the other hand, larger homes of 2,400 square feet or more rose by 3.8 percent a year. The smaller-home demand is being driven by millennials wanting to enter the market with a more affordable starter home and baby boomers who are looking to downsize,® notes. Further, smaller homes are in shorter supply, which is prompting prices to increase more due to the high demand, says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal firm.
Two-bedroom homes: Homes with two bedrooms appreciate at a rate of 6.6 percent a year, compared to homes with five bedrooms that appreciate at 4.3 percent a year,®’s research team found.
The Hottest Home Features
(Noted below with the annual appreciation rate from 2011-2016.)
  • Open floor plan: 7.4%
  • Patio: 6.8%
  • Hardwood floors: 5.7%
  • Fireplace: 5.3%
  • Finished basement: 4.6%
  • Hot tub: 3.9%
  • Stainless steel appliances: 3%
  • Granite countertop: 2.5%
Open floor plans: Homes with open floor plans appreciate 7.4 percent a year. It’s the hottest appreciating home feature that® studied (see side for full list). As for features like stainless steel and granite, Miller says those amenities don’t really add any value to a home. "Those are what I call 'have-to-have' features,” Miller says. “A home needs to have them in a competitive market. But they don't add long-term value. … Ten years from now, when you update your kitchen, they'll be replaced."
Modern and contemporary homes: Modern and contemporary architectural styles have the highest potential for appreciation, increasing at about 7.7 percent annually. This style of home is known for simple, geometric shapes, and large windows. Newly constructed modern homes also tend to be energy efficient. Bungalows and Traditional are the next highest appreciating styles at 6.5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, niche styles like Craftsman bungalows and Victorians are among the lowest appreciating architectural styles, at 3.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Researchers speculate that may be due to some of the maintenance responsibilities in staying true to the home’s historical architecture that is often connected to these styles of homes.
Green space views: Homes with a park view appreciate at 7.9 percent a year,®’s research team found. "[They] hold value over a longer period of time, and they recover quickly from a downturn," says Michael Minson, a real estate pro in San Francisco at Keller Williams. "Buyers appreciate the tranquility and outdoor activities. They like being close to nature." Indeed, homes with mountain views appreciated on average by 5.1 percent, and homes with a lake view at 4.9 percent. Ocean views appreciated the least of the “home views” studied, at just 3.6 percent a year. Recent storms may have spooked buyers from oceanfront properties as well as the fact that the highest-cost homes tend to be along the ocean,®’s research team notes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Environmentally Smart Landscaping Tips


A home's landscape provides curb appeal and, if designed smartly, it can also offer wellness and environmental benefits. When your clients undertake a new landscaping project, it's important that they keep the local ecosystem and environmental considerations in mind.
Since some areas of the country are still experiencing drought conditions, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) recently created an infographic that shares what your clients living in these areas need to know before designing their landscaping project.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Staging for a Cozy, Minimalist Look

staged living room
While decluttering a listing before putting it on the market will help sellers keep their homes cleaner and get a head start on packing, this practice also helps the product that’s for sale shine through more clearly. “Staging isn’t about decorating, but putting a room and its architecture in the best light,” says Chicago-area designer and stager Paula Winter.
Watch for these signs that you’re tipping the balance too far in one direction.
Too intimate:
Yellow; rich, dark colors; and textured or faux Tuscan-painted walls
Elaborate window treatments
Family photos
Floral or oversized patterns
Every wall covered with art
Too contrived:
Orchids or other fussy plants
A set table
Matching furniture sets
Nearly empty shelves and storage
Cookies baking in an oven during the open house
But stagers also caution against stripping too much away, which can make a space feel stark and uninviting. The happy medium is instead a modern, minimalist look that permits buyers to imagine how their furnishings may fit in spatially while exuding warmth from some carefully added accessories.
Staging, once mostly for vacant homes or high-priced listings, is now more widely used. Meridith Baer, who stages more than 140 properties a month through her eponymous California firm, says the practice can help increase the sales price and decrease the listing time for homes. The Real Estate Staging Association pegs the average time on the market for homes sold after staging at 21 days, an estimated 90 percent less time than unstaged properties.
Bear in mind that different generations have slightly different design tastes and tolerance for clutter or spareness, as do buyers in different geographic markets and price points. “Many in the greater Los Angeles area have been asking for a more minimal look, but in Orange County and Northern California, high-end properties still reflect a rich layering that shows a well-lived, well-traveled life,” Baer says. Here are five recommendations to strike the right balance.
1. Set the stage. It’s called staging for a reason. The idea is to set the mood in the same way that a theatrical backdrop does. Think of how to use furnishings and accessories to tell a story about how a buyer may live there. You want the listing to look modern and gender-neutral to show a home’s bones, not to remind buyers of an antiseptic hospital or laboratory, says Winter. Certified stager Susan Batka of Aerie Interiors in suburban Atlanta suggests adding a few textured pillows, a rug, and maybe a large piece of modern, colorful artwork to give the space the necessary warmth so it looks alive but isn’t overwhelming or too personalized.
2. Declutter. This is still the number one mantra for stagers. “The key to the desired Zen feel is to pick interesting but fewer decorative items and keep upholstered pieces clean and lean,” Baer says. She describes the goal as leaving “some breathing room. Not every wall space needs art and not every surface needs accessories.” It can be difficult to decide what to keep, but one good rule is to retain only the accessories that play up architectural features and strengths of the listing. Items that draw attention to built-in bookshelves or fireplace mantels are especially helpful. For example, Winter removes half the books on a shelf and arranges the remaining ones with turned-out spines or groups them by colors that work well with the room. She’ll winnow down collectibles on a shelf or coffee table to three key items rather than removing everything.
3. Heed the size and shape of the room. You can use staging to highlight a room’s distinct features. If it has volume due to high ceilings, Baer will use a few larger-scaled furnishings. If it’s long and narrow, she generally fashions two seating groups, turning a rectangle into two squares. That way buyers can imagine a comfortable space where visitors can sit and converse intimately.
4. Retain functionality within today’s style guidelines. Because space is highly valued, making the best use of all square footage remains a priority. Show this in listings by following the principles of cozy minimalism throughout a home. For example, in a master bedroom where buyers are looking to gain a sleep sanctuary, whittle down the furnishings to only the essential items of a comfortable bed, nightstands, and good lighting. The cozy factor can come in the form of blankets, pillows, a soft rug underfoot, and a soothing palette, says Batka. To outfit a spare room or a large landing, you might stage a workspace with a clean, modern desk and comfy upholstered chair.

5. Remember inexpensive tweaks. Good staging isn’t about grand gestures, large furnishings, or scads of accessories. Minor fixes can help what’s already there stand out without cluttering the space. Replace fixtures with bulbs of the same wattage and color, and hang clothing on similar hangers for a more uniform feel, says Jennifer Ames, a salesperson with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago. “It gives buyers a good feeling as they walk through, that the sellers have cleaned and organized their homes,” she says. But in keeping with the cozy factor, avoid overwrought perfection. “Make anything you do look authentic, rather than contrived like putting out place settings at a table,” says Helen Bartlett, a RESA certified stager with Refined Interior Staging Solutions in Fairway, Kan. “Nobody lives that way.”